Colonial Quarter Museum
St. Augustine, Florida, USA
- 16th-century Spanish settlement: See St. Augustine's earliest days reenacted as you join in an archaeological dig and watch boatwrights craft a classic caravel.
- 17th-century Spanish city: Learn to lock, load, and fire a musket, watch a blacksmith work the forge, and climb the watchtower for sweeping views of the coast.
- 18th-century Spanish Garrison town: Visit the barracks of the Castillo de San Marcos soldiers, try your hand at leatherworking, and load up on tapas at Taberna del Caballo.
- Britain's 14th colony: Experience life in the decades leading up to independence. Visit a 1770s printing press, a one-room colonial home, and the Bull Crown Publick House.
About this St. Augustine, Florida tour
Before the upstart United States took over in 1821, St. Augustine was Spanish, then British, then Spanish again. The French also left footprints in the sand. But there's another group of Europeans that goes back to colonial times, and they're still here. You've just never heard of them.
In 1768, 1,403 indentured servants set out from Menorca, a tiny island east of Spain that was briefly a British colony, to work in Britain's East Florida colony. Back then, a few years of hard work in exchange for passage to the New World was not as bad as slavery. But it proved a subtle distinction to the Menorcans. They endured appalling conditions on an indigo plantation for nine hellish years, then abruptly walked off the job and kept walking, 70 miles north, to St. Augustine. Where they complained to the colonial governor, who gave them sanctuary in the northwest section of the old walled city: a ghetto.
The 1783 treaty that ended the Revolutionary War made Florida a Spanish colony again; the Menorcans stayed, keeping to themselves, fishing and farming. Four decades later, another treaty made Florida American; the Menorcans stayed, often brutalized and generally reviled for sticking to their language, traditions, and cuisine. Gradually, their story followed the classic immigrant course: They prospered, becoming the heart that the rest of St. Augustine grew around.
You can hear about indentured servants at Colonial Quarters; they accounted for about half of the colonies' white immigrants. You probably won't hear about the Menorcans, unless you ask. But they're still among the city's most respected families. If you crossed the Francis and Mary Usina Bridge to get here, you're already acquainted with one of them.
Castillo de San Marcos, the pointy-cornered fort you'll see from the watchtower, ricocheted among feuding powers for centuries. Spain built it in 1672 to discourage English privateers. The redcoats took over in 1763 and renamed it Fort St. Mark, then gave it back when they left for good in 1783. The U.S. named it after a Revolutionary War hero when Florida became a state, lost and regained it in the Civil War, and restored the original colonial name in 1942.
Please make your way to the Colonial Quarter Museum at 29 St. George St, Augustine, FL 32084 in historic downtown. Located near the north end of St. George Street, which is a pedestrian-only street.
This is a self-guided experience.
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
To fully participate may require leisurely walking over primarily even surfaces. There may be a limited number of steps and some standing for extended periods of time. Venue is wheelchair accessible, except for the 35-foot water tower.
Cultural, Family Friendly
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages. Children under 5 years of age participate free of charge.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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