St. Augustine History
On March 27th 1503 while seeking
treasure Don Ponce de Leon landed on what is now Florida and
subsequently discovered North America. Over the next 50 years
the Spanish government made several attempts to settle the
region but their efforts were met with failure.
Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles
In 1564 the French bypassed the Spanish
treasure hunters that had been scowling the Florida coastline and
established a colony on the St. John’s River. Furious when
he received news of the French settlement, King Phillip II of Spain
dispatched Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles along with 600 soldiers
to drive out the French settlers and secure the region for Spain
once in for all, which they succeeded in doing.
Menendez and his soldier then took control of the Tumucuan Indian
village and renamed it St. Augustine. Though St. Augustine remained
under Spanish rule, maintaining the settlement did not come easy.
The British attacked and Burned St. Augustine to ground in 1586.
Then in 1668 the town was attacked and nearly destroyed by pirates.
Castillo de San Marcos
Increasing concerns over of the British colonists in Georgia and
the Carolinas were diffused with the construction of the Castillo
de San Marcos. The un-penetratable stone fortress acted as an effective
guardian against the growing British forces. To this day, the fortress
has never fallen to enemy attack. Then in 1763 Spain ceded Florida
to England in exchange for control of Cuba.
The American Revolution
During the American Revolution, the Florida colonist remained loyal
to the British. Ironically, Florida was returned to Spain in 1783
under the Treaty of Paris. Florida remained under Spanish rule until
1821, when it was sold to the United States of America. The Americans
officially took control on July 10th. Tragically the yellow fever
spread through the region in 1821 killing many of the newcomers.
The Seminole War of 1836 further stunted the development of the
In 1845, Florida became the 27th state admitted into the Union.
Though the state capital was moved from St. Augustine to Tallahassee,
the North America’s oldest city entered a period of great
prosperity. The prosperous years came to halt during the Civil War.
St. Augustine was occupied by Union Troops throughout most of the
Henry M. Flagler
The arrival of Henry M. Flagler, co-founder of the Standard Oil
Company, in 1885 marked the start of a golden era for St. Augustine
that would continue for the next two decades. Flagler recognized
St. Augustine’s potential as a vacation destination for wealthy
northerners. He invested much of his wealth into turning his dream
into a reality. Flagler was responsible for building not only hotels
and golf courses but also two hospitals, city hall, and several
churches. The state eventually took over Flagler’s work and
maintains ongoing preservation efforts. Today travel and tourism
remains St. Augustine’s premier industry.