On a warm summer day, nothing beats a breeze coming in from beautiful Matanzas Bay during a walking along St. Augustine’s seawall! The Bayfront has long been a hot spot for visitors to St. Augustine with beautiful views and interesting attractions. This blog provides a glimpse into the history of this area along with suggestions for places to visit, eat, and stay.
The Maria Sanchez Powder Room Site is located near Marine Street and Hedrick Street just off the Matanzas River. Since its settlement in 1565, St. Augustine was a garrison town strategically located next to the gulf stream that Spanish fleets used to return to Europe. Tensions rose under British rule in the 1760s that ultimately led to the Revolutionary War and after Spain’s reclamation of Florida in 1783, defense concerns were priority. With the munition storage at nearby Castillo de San Marcos full, engineer Berrio built a powder house out of coquina, stone, iron, and tile between 1797 and 1800.
It was reported that inventory was usually damp and it was suggested that the structure would better function as a prison, with the guard house serving as a kitchen. In 1835, the facility was used as a refugee center during the Second Seminole War. Evidence suggests the building was razed in 1860 by locals or the US Government, and by 1880 documents identified it as a site only. The foundation was excavated in 1970 by St. Augustine’s Preservation Board to provide a historical framework for the now open field; the site was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Founded in 1924, the St. Augustine Art Association is one of the oldest and most vibrant non-profit art organizations in the United States. The Art Association hosts exhibitions, lectures, workshops, tours, and special events. The gallery is free and open to the public, so be sure to save some time to swing by!
Largely forgotten by many, the Lost Colony was a group of artists from 1930-1950 who formed the St. Augustine Art Association and helped make this historic town a thriving winter art colony. Artists from northern states would capture Florida’s landscape through their work which was then sold to wealthy tourists visiting our beautiful city. The Art Association’s permanent collection includes original works by “Lost Colony” artists including Rosalie Barclay, Tod Lindenmuth, Blanche Lazzell, Emmett Fritz, and Anthony Thieme.
TOUCH St. Augustine is the Art Association’s outreach initiative to improve accessibility and appreciation for public art and the history of the city. The permanent city-wide installation was inspired by the organization’s annual Tactile Art Show made of touchable art with Braille signage. Seven public art sculptures in the Plaza de la Constitucion representing people and images crucial to St. Augustine’s growth make up the Braille Trail. Site-specific signs feature raised tactile diagrams and interpretive descriptions as well as free audio tours available through a mobile web app, online, and by phone.
Overlooking the marina and the Bridge of Lions, OC White’s is the place to go for great food with stunning balcony views. Located in the historic 1790 Worth House, erected by prominent St. Augustinian Don Miguel Ysnardy, the building was one of the first hotels in town. The cozy atmosphere is the perfect setting to enjoy fresh local seafood, choice steaks, chowder, pasta, and so much more.
Located at 10 Marine Street, just steps from the Plaza de la Constitucion, Chatsworth Pub is an English style pub in a historic Colonial Revival building. Built in 1924, the site has been home to notable cafes like Captain Jack’s and J.P. Henley’s. Take in the gorgeous marina views during brunch or high tea while enjoying savory pies, desserts, craft beers from all over the world, specialty cocktails, and root beer floats.
The Bayfront Westcott House was built in 1880 as a private residence for John Westcott, a prominent military figure with interests in transportation, politics, and research for the cause and cure of yellow fever. He also helped develop the Intracoastal Waterway from the St. Johns River to Miami. Today, the Westcott house is a 16-room full-service bed and breakfast with jacuzzi tubs, fireplaces, and outdoor seating. Take a morning stroll on the seawall and enjoy being just steps away from everything the historic district has to offer.
OC White’s: 118 Avenida Menendez
Chatsworth Pub: 10 Marine Street
St. Augustine Art Association: 22 Marine Street
Bayfront Westcott House: 146 Avenida Menendez