St. Augustine Historical Society
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The Society

The St. Augustine Historical Society is the oldest continuously operating museum and historical society in Florida. Beginning in 1881 as an informal group that met in private homes to discuss topics of historical and scientific interest, the society formally organized on New Year's Day 1883. The earliest programs were varied: historical, literary, and scientific. In 1899 the society purchased a colonial house and its contents, known as the Vedder Museum, but these holdings were lost in a disastrous fire in 1914. Undaunted, the society struck a deal with the U.S. War Department to manage the abandoned Fort Marion, a tenure which lasted until 1935, when the fort became the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and lobbied successfully for federal restoration of the 18th-century blockhouse Fort Matanzas.

- Manse -
The old Presbyterian manse on St. George Street where the society was formed in 1883.
- Oldest House 1918 -
In November 1918 the society's board of trustees arrive to inspect their newly purchased Oldest House.

By 1918 the society had recovered enough financially to purchase two colonial buildings, the Tovar House and the González-Alvarez House, the latter of which had been exhibited to visitors since 1892 as "The Oldest House." In 1970 the González-Alvarez House was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Today these buildings form the nucleus of the Oldest House Museum Complex. In 1924 the society passed another milestone when it constructed the Webb Building, the first structure in Florida designed as a museum. The Webb Building today houses the Manucy Museum of St. Augustine history. In addition, the Society is steward of the Fernández-Llambias House, another National Historic Landmark.

- Vedder Fire Start -
Fire engulfs the Historical Society's "House of History" in 1914, destroying its first collection.
- Griffin Dig at Oldest House -
During the 1950s archaeologists John Griffin (shown above) and Hale Smith conducted excavations to gather information on the structure of the Oldest House and the lives of the people who lived there.

In addition to its museum operations, the Society has built the state's best private collection of documents, maps, photographs and printed sources relating to the history of St. Augustine and early Florida. These collections are accessible to the public at the society's research library, located in the historic Seguí-Kirby Smith House, the birthplace of Confederate general Edmund Kirby-Smith.

The society has long published books, pamphlets and periodicals. Its first major book was the 1951 translation of Barcia's Chronological History of the Continent of Florida, originally printed in 1723. In 1955 the society launched a newsletter, El Escribano (Spanish for The Scribe), which by 1977 had evolved into an annual scholarly journal. The society's current newsletter is titled The East Florida Gazette after a newspaper printed in St. Augustine in 1784. Society publications available for sale are listed on the Museum Store pages of this website.

During the 1950s the society embarked on an ambitious program of restoration and renewal in preparation for the city's Quadricentennial in 1965. Projects included a major restoration of the Oldest House and a complete redesign of the museum exhibits in the Webb Building. The Society also restored four colonial houses, purchased several historic sites to create public parks, and built six houses in the "St. Augustine Style."

The St. Augustine Historical Society continues to play an important role in the preservation and interpretation of the unique heritage of the nation's oldest city.

- Council Meeting -
In May 1950 Florida Governor Fuller Warren and local officials re-enact the 1813 meeting of the Spanish City Council in the Oldest House, the home of St. Augustine's first alcalde (mayor), Geronimo Alvarez.
- UNF Class -
Students from area colleges make frequent use of the resources at the society's research library. Here Dr. Daniel Schafer leads a class from the University of North Florida.

- Be a Part of History -
Become a Member of the St. Augustine Historical Society.

By joining the Society you enjoy attractive benefits while supporting the preservation and interpretation of historically significant structures, artifacts and documentary materials in the Nation's Oldest City.

  • Free admission to the Oldest House Museum Complex (the González-Alvarez House, the Manucy Museum, the Museum of Florida's Military, the Page Edwards Gallery, the Garden and the Museum Store)
  • 10% discount on purchases from the Society's Museum Store
  • 10% discount on all Society publications and services at the Research Library
  • Membership in Time Travelers, offering discounts at history museums nationwide
  • Free subscription to the Society's annual journal of history, El Escribano
  • Free subscription to the Society's newsletter, The East Florida Gazette
  • Free or discounted admission to Society programs and events
  • Two guest passes to Oldest House Museum Complex

Membership Levels:
We have memberships appropriate to both individuals and organizations. Higher levels earn additional benefits, such as additional guest passes, gift certificates to the Museum Store, greater discounts on purchases at the Research Library and Museum Store, and recognition in Society publications.

Individuals and Families
  • Student $20.00 (must present copy of student ID)
  • Individual $35.00
  • Family $50.00
  • Contributor $100.00
  • Supporter $250.00
  • Benefactor $500.00
  • Guardian $1,000.00

Organizations and Businesses
  • Associate $100.00
  • Promoter $250.00
  • Sustainer $500.00
  • Developer $1,000.00
  • Patron $2,500.00

To join, please send a check or money order for your selected membership level to:

St. Augustine Historical Society
271 Charlotte Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084

Thank you for your support

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The St. Augustine Historical Society271 Charlotte StreetSt. Augustine, Florida 32084

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