A ST. AUGUSTINE TREASURE WHERE GHOSTS FLUTTER THROUGH THE HISTORIC HOUSE ON A GRAY DAY IN WINTER
Oh the stories this doll might tell! She resides in the family living space on the second floor of the Ximenez-Fatio House, now a museum at 20 Aviles Street, St. Augustine Florida. This lodging in the Old City is furnished to reflect its use as an elegant inn from 1821-1860. Constructed of thick coquina rock, it was first built in 1798. As I visited the different rooms I imagined encounters with characters from long ago living the boarding house lifestyle.
Rooms for Boarders
Exceptional food provided an important element to the business of sisters Margaret Cook and Eliza Whitehurst who operated the boarding house business. The punkah or fan over the table kept flies from the food.
Cards in the parlor corner, one of several games available.
A camp desk in the room of a military boarder with bed and washstand.
A doctor’s stethoscope is one of many artifacts on a fireplace mantel.
Visiting naturalists paved the way for an increasing tourist trade.
Family enjoyed music in the parlor.
A place to work a sampler
The beds in each room were different sizes whether for family or boarders, plenty of beds for children as over the years owners provided for extended family.
Inside the detached kitchen building furnished as a 2nd Spanish Period kitchen (1784-1821).
Tart Seville oranges in the windowsill.
Other kitchen scenes
Our talented docent and the store manager Gili Lockner spoke in a musical voice, well-modulated to give us insights into the daily lives of those who might stay in this place as she lead us from room to room. I’m not sure when I’ve enjoyed a guided tour more. She made me long to come again to the house, perhaps on a sunny day and sit in the pleasant and inviting courtyard.
Here in the yard one more clearly sees how the buildings are arranged: the el shape of the main building with the bedrooms to the back, and the kitchen building and the wash house with an outdoor fire to boil the clothing on washday.
Do visit the website www.ximenezfatiohouse.org
Daring Daughters by Karen Harvey gives more information on the women who lived here and ran the boarding house.
If you would like to read more about this interesting historic house, see my essay, “At Ximenez-Fatio House” written after a previous visit and posted soon on the writing page. You may also find interesting information on construction and dating of the house at Wikipedia.