The Gonzalez-Alvarez house is an architectural marvel and a time capsule of St. Augustine’s evolution. Also known as “The Oldest House”, this historic landmark is believed to be the oldest residence in the city and has gone through several changes and intervening alterations over the years.
And if you’re planning to go to St. Augustine soon, this is definitely a must-see and must-visit point of interest to stopover so you can fully appreciate the rich history and culture of the city.
Read more as we are going to tackle some facts and information about the Gonzalez-Alvarez House in today’s entry.
The oldest house on St. Francis Street is a Stone-Vernacular style house that was initially built in 1723 during the time of the city’s Spanish colonial period. The house was built from coquina, which is a type of sedimentary rock that’s made up of seashells and a typical example of the architectural style from the Spanish colonizers.
Trivia: Coquina is a common material in St. Augustine, and it was harvested in the coquina quarry which was located to what is Anastasia State Park today. Likewise, this same material is also used to build Castillo de San Marcos.
The house was first occupied by Tomas Gonzalez y Hernandez who was a Castillo de San Marcos artilleryman. It was believed that the Canary Islands immigrant had acquired ownership of the property after marrying Francisca Guevara y Rodriguez and their family resided there up to 1763.
In 1863, the Spanish occupants relocated to Cuba after Great Britain captured Florida. And as a result, the house was sold to Joseph Peavett, a British garrison acting paymaster, and his wife, Mary Evans who worked as a midwife. The couple made modifications by making the residence as a tavern and added a clapboard 2nd floor. Aside from that, they also added glass panes, folding partitions to large rooms, and fireplaces which served as a representation of the time when Florida and St. Augustine were under British rule for a brief period.
After the death of the second owner in 1786, his widow remarried John Hudson and continued to open the tavern for business. Mary’s new husband was a gambler, and because of his debts, she was forced to sell the property for public sale in 1790.
The house was again in the hands of a Spaniard when it was bought by Geronimo Alvarez at the auction. He was the 1st “Alcalde Ordinario” (mayor) of St. Augustine at that time. He lived with his wife, Antonia Vens and his son, Antonio, who eventually inherited the property and resided there for almost a century (1790-1882). Geronimo was also responsible for adding a 2-story tier at the rear end of the house. And this part was also made of coquina.
Trivia: Antonio Alvarez, the son of Geronimo Alvarez also became the mayor of St. Augustine during the territorial period of America.
In 1918, the property was then acquired by the St. Augustine Historical Society and turned it as their headquarters. The group also restored the house back to its late 18th century appearance sometime in the 1950s.
Now the Gonzalez-Alvarez house is open for public visits so that people can see the evidence of different nations that once occupied the city through different periods.
What To Expect When You Take A Trip Inside The Oldest House
Today, the Gonzalez-Alvarez house has a roofed balcony that is situated on the east end and has a roof covered with cypress-shake singles. And as you move inside, you will see some rooms that a furnished in Spanish-styled designs from the 1700s while other rooms reflect the aesthetic influences from the other 2 periods.
The room of Mary Peavett reflects the British architectural styles from the 18th century. On the other hand, General Hernandez’s bedroom is furnished in a design representing the American Territorial Period.
Moreover, the renovated kitchen is constructed similar to that of a typical Spanish style structure which is suitable for the hot climate. And it has a separate building to prevent cooking odors from entering the main house as well as to reduce any danger from fire.
More Information On Visiting The Oldest House
Tickets to the house are priced at $8 each and $18 for family tours consisting of 2 adults & any children below the age of 18. The entire tour includes admission to the property, a tour inside the house, and access to the historical exhibits gallery, the Manucy Museum, the ornamental garden, and the store.
The oldest house in Florida is part of the Oldest Museum Complex and is open to the public from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily, with in-house tours run every 30 minutes.
So forget seeing the Gonzalez-Alvarez house through the pictures of other people. Come to St. Augustine now and experience the beauty of this one of a kind historic landmark for yourself.