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Prince Murat House
Huertas-Canova House
250 St. George St
St. Augustine Florida

Library of Congress
HABS No. Fla-14
Second Period Spanish
Editor Notes:
This house was used as a boarding house in Territorial St. Augustine. It was part of the Old St.
Augustine Village attraction.

This house is located on 250 St. George Street.  The lot was an official sale to Antonio Canova in
1803  (escrituras of 1803 Governor Enrique White). The lot extended from St. George Street on its
east front to the marsh of Maria Sanchez Creek at the west and Bartolome Suarez was on the north.  
It's believed to have been built by Antonio Huertas in 1815. The little balcony on the end peak was its
distinctive feature. Tradition says that it was occupied by Prince Achille Murat a nephew of Napolean
but he did not own it. Murat became accepted in the city insomuch that he was a bondsmen for a City
Treasurer. Another boarder possibility is Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the 1930s it was operated as a
coffee house.

Prince Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat (January 21, 1801 - April 15, 1847)
He was the eldest son of the King of Naples, Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, sister of
Napoleon, during the First French Empire and later in life mayor of Tallahassee, Florida in the United
States. At twenty-one he arrived in New York and became a naturalized citizen. He married Catherine
D. Willis who was born near Fredericksburg, Virginia on August 17, 1803. She was the daughter of
Colonel Bird Willis and Mary Lewis, who was a niece of General Washington. They were married on
July 30, 1826.

When he moved to St. Augustine he joined the Masonic society and served in the militia under General
Hernandez.

In 1823 he purchased an extensive property of 2,800 acres (1133 ha) and built a plantation where he
planted orange groves, rice, and indigo. He named it 'Parthenope', in honor of his onetime principality
in Naples, Italy, which was founded on the site of the ancient Greek settlement of Parthenope (see
History of Naples). Parthenope was located about ten miles south of St. Augustine on the west side of
the Matanzas River, at the mouth of Moses Creek.  

He would later become the Mayor of Tallahassee. He is buried in Tallahassee at old St. Johns
Episcopal Church cemetery.

HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY
HUERTAS-CANOVA HOUSE (CALLED "PRINCE MURAT HOUSE") (1965)

Prince Murat House (now Coffee House)
Saint George and Bridge Streets
St. Augustine, Florida

Address: 250 St. George Street at northwest corner of Bridge Street, St. Augustine, St. Johns
County, Florida,

Present Owner and Occupant: Mr. Kenneth Dow, 250 St. George Street, St.
Augustine, Florida.

Present Use: Residence

Statement of Significance: The Huertas-Canova House, which popularly is called the Prince Murat
House, reputedly was the residence of Prince Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat, son of the
former King of Naples and. Caroline, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte, for a brief period. (Prince
Murat married Catherine Daingerfield 'Willis Gray, great-grandniece of George Washington).
A. Original and subsequent owners: The research for the following chain of title was done by Alberta
Johnson, librarian of the Florida Historical Society, in December 1938. The Society was then located
in St. Augustine, Florida. A copy of the chain of title was received from the St, Augustine Historical
Society on 24 March, 1965.

1791 -129  
Escrituras Webb Memorial Library  May 6, Andres Ximanez, for Antonio Huertas,
granted lot #257 for the taxes and mortgages it for security.

1815 p. 106 Title July 4; Gov. J. J, Estrada y Toro gives title to Antonio Huertas in lot 257, block 37,
for which he gave mortgage May 6, 1791; measures north-south 29 yds. east-west 69 yds. Bounded
east oy St. George St. north by Nicholas Estefanopoly, south by cross street leading to the swamp,
west by swamp (Maria Sanche Creek).

St. Johns County Archives Deed Book "A-l" p. 104

1821 Dec. 31, Deed Antonio Huertas to Antonio Canova, same descriptionas in title of 1815, with all
of its appurtenances, privileges, titles etc. purchase price, $1000.00. This transfer of title to property
does not specify any buildings upon this lot, but in comparing the purchase price with others of
the same period, it is believed that the two house , the so-called Prince Murat and the coquina house
#46 Bridge St, included in the estate of Antonio Canova, had both been built by Huertas during the
second Spanish occupation and before the sale to Antonio Canova.

The lot extending from St. George St. to Cordova St. (marsh at that time) remained in possession of
the Canova family until 1877, when by the will of Antonio Canova (1869) the property was divided.

St. Johns County Archives Deed Book "X" p. 15

1877 Aug. 7, B. F. Oliveros, Commissioner, by order of the Probate Court sold to Amos C. Spear,
Spear to J. P. Howard, lot #13, with stone house, bounded south by Bridge St., north John C.
Canova (now Spear) west ~by Ramon Canova estate, being the same premises conveyed by A.
Huertas, 1821.

St. Johns County Archives, Order Book "A" p. 71

1869 July 17, Will of Antonio Canova "#257, block 37, fronting on St. George St. 0 ft., Bridge St.
east-west 75 ft. to John Canova, balance to wife Margaret and at her death to be divided with
children John, Paul, Raphael, Antonio, Crescencio and Ramon., and daughter Marcella."

St. Johns County Archives File Case ,[C-4n

1877- Paul B. Canova VS Camilla Canova, filed April 10, 1877, Bond of F. J. Ponce and Paul B.
Canova, Executors of will of Antonio Canova, "to made faithful distribution and appropriation
of certain monies arising from sale of certain real estate sold at public auction, May 7, 1877, B. F.
Oliveros, Com.Paul Canova had filed petition to sell as the rents and income from the property was
not sufficient for 'the expenses of the remaining heirs of estate.

1880- Deed Book "2" pp 117-119

John P. Howard to Amos C. Spear, with other property deed to lot with tenements, etc. bounded east
by St. George St, south by Bridge St. west by Col. Albert Tracy. Spear sold to Mollie Pease, 1906
Pease to Hayden; this is followed [sic] by numerous mortgages, satisfaction of mortgages and deeds,
between Pease, Hayden, Lindsley, Pespass to present owner, Miss Helen Meeker. Although this
house is called the "Prince Murat" there is no record of his claiming title but it is believed, by
descendants of Antonio Canova, that he either rented a part of the house or was a guest there during
the lifetime of Antonio Canova, as for many years the Murat name has been connected with this
well-built coquina house.

The Estefanopoly lot (adjoining south line of the "Ancient Spanish Church" lot) was acquired by
Antonio Canova in 1855 and included in lot 11, 12, 13 and 14 later dived [sic] and sold.

In 1957 the property was owned by Helen H. Meeker,

2. Date of erection: Probably erected between 1815 and 1821.

B. Historical Events and Persons Associated with the Building:
Research has not validated the local tradition that Prince Murat lived in the house at the northwest
corner of St. George and Bridge Streets even for a brief period. However, from April, 1824  when he
first arrived in Florida, until his death at his Econchatti Plantation near Tallahassee, Florida on April 15,
1847 at the age of 46, he visited St. Augustine innumerable times—for it was from this port that he
embarked on his trips to the North and to Europe, It is known. that he rented a house in St. Augustine
in April, 1824. ("A few days after my arrival I rented a small house with a rather pretty garden."
Quoted by A. J. Hanna in his biography of Prince Achille Murat,
A Prince In Their Midst, on p. 72).
His residence was brief, however, for he bought a 1,200 acre, "estate," Parthenope, (at intersection of
the Mantanzas River and Moses Creek), within two months. This was two years before he met and
married Catherine ("Kate") Daingerfield Willis Gray in Tallahassee. The two stayed in a boardinghouse
in St. Augustine in March, 1927 to await the sloop which was to take them on their wedding trip to the
North to visit his uncle, Joseph Bonaparte, on his estate at Point Breeze in Hew Jersey.

It has been claimed that Prince Murat' s wife lived in the Huertas-Canova House during the Second
Seminole Indian War, -which lasted from 1835 to 1842. Only further detailed research might indicate
that this "fact" is historically accurate.

C. Sources of Information:
Hanna, ,A.J. A Prince In Their Midst: The Adventurous. Life of Achille Murat on the American
Frontier
. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946.

Long, Ellen Call.
Florida .Breezes. Jacksonville, Florida: Asbmead Brothers, 18&3.

St. Johns County Records, County Court House, Charlotte Street, St. .Augustine, Florida,

D. Likely Sources Not let Investigated:

An extensive bibliography can he found in the A. J. Hanna, book,
A Prince In Their Midst. Of
particular value are the names of collections that contain letters written by Prince Murat.

PART II. ARCHITECTURAL INFORMATION

A. General Statement

1. Architectural character: The Huertas-Canova House is a typical one-and-a-half-story, coquina St.
Augustine house of the early nineteenth century. Because of its supposed association with the Murats
and its picturesque qualities, it is one of the city's major points of interest for tourists.

2. Condition: Partially restored and renovated; well maintained.

B. Description of Exterior

1. Number of stories and hays: One-and-a-half stories; three-bay front. Over-all dimensions: 32'-3
1/2" (front) x 28'-0" with 12'-0" x l8'-l0 1/2 rear ell and 10'-6  1/2" deep rear addition.

Layout: Rectangular with rear ell and rectangular rear addition in the right angle formed by this ell.

2. Wall construction: Plastered coquina.

3. Porches, stoops: A wooden frame "balcony projects from south (street) side of upper story; it has a
shed roof and crude wooden decorative details, A one-step stone stoop is at the main entry on St.
George Street.

4. Chimneys: Stone chimneys.

5. Openings:

a. Doors and doorways: Simple wooden door frames with simple vertical board and paneled wooden
doors, and two-section louvered doors.

b. Windows and shutters: Simple wooden window frames with nine-over-six double-hung "wooden
sash. Windows on first floor have either paneled or louvered wooden shutters.

6. Roof:

a. Shape, covering; The main section and the rear ell both have gable roofs; the rear addition has a low,
hipped roof.

b. Eaves: Simple wooden eaves,

c. Dormers: Two pitched-roof dormers on the front elevation.

C. Description of Interior

1. Floor plans: First floor has central-hall plan with rear ell and single-room rear addition; the attic
story has a central-hall plan.

2. Stairways: Solid-newel, two-run wooden staircase with simple wooden handrails, square balusters,
and both turned and chamfered newel posts.

3. Flooring: Modern tile flooring.

4. Wall and ceiling finish: Plaster on coquina, and exposed wooden rafters and boards in upper story.

5. Doors: Vertical board doors.

6. Decorative trim; Simple wooden trim.

7. Heating: Fireplace with mantel with relatively simple pilaster and reeded-panel motifs.

D. Site

1. Orientation and general setting: House faces east on St. George Street. The east (front) wall is
directly at the sidewalk line. The south (side) wall is almost at the Bridge Street curb line.

2. Landscaping: Since it is immediately adjacent to the sidewalk: and curb, the house has no front or
side yards or plantings. It has only a rear garden, which is enclosed by a masonry wall.

Prepared by John C. Poppeliers
Architectural Historian
National Park Service
March 1965
Prince Achille Murat
Prince Murat House as a Coffee House
Francis Johnson Benjamin Photo 1938
Library of Congress
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
http://floridamemory.com/items/show/111373
Photographed on October 24, 1984.
Photographer Peggy A. Bulger
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
http://floridamemory.com/items/show/111372
Folklife Collection Series 1667,
Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs Florida Folklife
Archives Florida Folklife fieldwork photographs, slides, and
negatives: St Augustine Architecture, 1984
Photographer Peggy A. Bulger
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/111374
Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs Florida Folklife Archives Florida Folklife fieldwork
photographs, slides, and negatives: St Augustine Architecture, 1984
Photographer Peggy A. Bulger
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
http://floridamemory.com/items/show/31736
1902
Historic American Buildings Survey
No Photographer listed
1937
GENERAL VIEW - EAST ELEVATION -
Huertas-Canova House,
250 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL
Historic American Buildings Survey
Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer
August 1961
EAST (FRONT) AND SOUTH SIDES -
Huertas-Canova House,
250 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL
Historic American Buildings Survey
Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer
August 1961
INTERIOR STAIRWAY -
Huertas-Canova House,
250 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL
Historic American Buildings Survey
Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer
August 1961
FIRST FLOOR, NORTHEAST (FRONT) ROOM, FACING WEST -
Huertas-Canova House,
250 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL
Historic American Buildings Survey
Prime A. Beaudoin, Photographer
August 1961
FIRST FLOOR, NORTHEAST (FRONT) ROOM, FACING NORTH -
Huertas-Canova House,
250 Saint George Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, FL
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