|In 1885 Smith was hired a supervisor by Flagler over the concrete construction process in
the Ponce de Leon Hotel but by January 1886 the relationship with Flagler came to an end.
Smith was an early abolitionist, a founder of the YMCA in the US and the Republican Party
Franklin: In the winter of 1882, while in Spain, I decided to build a winter home in St.
Augustine after the model which the experience of centuries had proved desirable in
semi-tropical countries. An oriental house of wood would be an anachronism; yet there was
no stone in Florida. To freight it from the north would be an extravagance. At Vevay, on
Lake Geneva, subsequently, the dilemma of material was relieved. In the neighborhood a
chateau was in construction...
In the following December (December 1, 1883) with a Boston mason, experiments were
made and the first concrete blocks of coquina sand and Portland cement were cast in St.
Augustine for the Villa Zorayda. They are preserved as valuable relics. Then the first course
around the lines of the dwelling here in depicted was laid in planks 10 inches high, and filled
with the mixture. In two days a range of handsome smooth stone was revealed. It was
followed by another immediately, and those layers hardened sufficiently to allow the raising
of the walls a course every other day. The partition walls were cast in with the main walls in
even courses also the arches of the court so that the building is practically a monolith. Arches
like the first cast, as seen in the illustration were re-enforced and anchored to the walls by
round iron rods. The outer walls were cored with an air chamber, bu a board buried in the
boxing and then raised, like a boat's center-board, beofre the concrete hardened. In thirty
days the walls were as hard as any building stone, and in ayear as defiant of a drill as granite.
The Casa Monica of while illustrations are annexed, stands as a superb illustration of
concrete. A facade of above 400 feet, a tower of 100 feet in height,, balconies, arches,
cornices, battlements, etc are a homogeneous mass of solid and eloquent stone. It was a new
departure in this building to use the sea sand simply dredged from the flats of the harbor,
having not more than 1/10 conquina. It was found that the finer the material the more dense
and uniform in color the result.
The facade of the Villa Zorayda is nearly in three detached sections. If really separate, the
least jar of earthquake or the slightest settlement would be made apparent. For security
against either, the sections are bound by imbedded railroad bars through the entire width of
From a Design and Prospectus for a National Gallery of History of Art at Washington
by Franklin W Smith.
|Franklin W. Smith