|Coquina Quarry - Spanish Ruins
Anastasia Island, St. Augustine Florida
|Coquina, tiny shells, is a natural seashell rock found in St. Augustine. The Castillo is the most significant
building using this stone, but in St. Augustine 1st, the one remaining British building and 2nd period
Spanish buildings are made of coquina. The Island itself was originally called La isla de la cantera
(Quarry island) before it was named Anastasia Island. The rock was cut by hand and moved to Quarry
creek and floated across the bay to the Castillo and city.
The men who worked there were varied in their backgrounds including people from all over the
Spanish Empire, Native Americans, Africans, and captured prisoners. An Englishman was actually the
quarry master at one time in the Spanish rule.
In 1763 King George III declared the quarry pits to be a royal reserve.
In Victorian St. Augustine the rock was used in its gravel form with concrete to build: the Ponce de
Leon Hotel, Alcazar, Casa Monica, Villa Zorayda, Grace United Methodist Church, Memorial
Presbyterian, and other buildings. Henry Flagler used the actions of the tide to move the gravel across
This picture shows the location where the early Spanish workers lived while the quarried the stone. It
contains the chimney and the old Spanish well.
"The new concrete building material is a composition of sand, Portland cement and shells. The shells
are found in deposits of vast extent on Anastasia Island. The loose shell is coquina... The loose shell is
brought over in carloads to the building site, and is mixed in given proportions with the sand and
cement. While still soft the composition is poured into moulds and hardens. A wall is built by first
setting boards up on edge, with a space between equal to the depth of the wall; into this space is
poured a layer of concrete; as each layer hardens a new one is poured in on top of it, and successive
layers are added to any required height. The wall is thus cast instead of being built; when completed it
is one stone; indeed, the entire wall construction of a concrete building is one solid mass throughout---a
monolith, with neither joint nor seam. The plastic material lends itself more admirably to architectural
and decorative purposes, and posses the very important qualities of durability and immunity from
destruction by fire." (From the 1892 Standard Guide St. Augustine.)
|Ponce de Leon Hotel