St. Augustine History Festival: May 11-15, 2022
Showcasing every era of St. Augustine’s long and storied past.
It’s such a good idea, it’s amazing no one thought of it before – a five-day festival devoted to the history of St. Augustine from the city’s beginning 457 years ago to the present day! As the Nation’s Oldest City, St. Augustine is known for its colorful and exciting historical re-enactments and events, but this Festival is different. It features fascinating historical presentations that illuminate true stories and mysteries of the city’s past. Festival topics include many that will surprise even devoted fans of the city’s history.
Admission is free to the following events. For the latest details and a useful Festival passport, visit the Festival website. www.staugustinehistoryfestival.com
A Button Discovery: A Trophy of War
Wednesday, May 11
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Location: St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, 100 Red Cox Dr.
A pewter button recovered from a sunken British ship by Lighthouse marine archeologists recently created a perplexing mystery. Emblazoned with the letters USA, why was it on a British ship fleeing the colonies at the end of the Revolutionary War? Was the button a war trophy? Was it from the jacket of a traitor? Dr. Paul Johnson of the Smithsonian Institution and Dr. Roger Smith of the St. Augustine Historical Society reveal the secrets of this fascinating little button.
Governor's House Art Gallery Opening Featuring the Vickers Collection
Friday, May 13
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: The Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum, 48 Cathedral Pl.
For more than 200 years, Spanish La Florida was ruled from this impressive Governor’s House. Today, a new art gallery in the house opens in grand style with the Vickers Art Collection – one of the world’s most extensive collections of Florida-themed art.
Interpretive Panel Unveiling
Friday, May 13
10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Location: Fort Mose Historic State Park and Museum, 15 Fort Mose Trl.
Established by the Spanish n 1738, Fort Mose was the first legally-sanctioned community for free Blacks in what is now the United States. Today’s unveiling of new interpretive panels enhances the visitor experience at this unique historical site.
Life and Death in Colonial St. Augustine
Friday, May 13
5 – 7 p.m.
Location: Flagler College, Ringhaver Student Center, 50 Sevilla St.
Dr. J. Michael Francis, Hough Family Chair of Florida Studies at the University of South Florida, provides a fascinating look at life in Colonial St. Augustine through the baptismal, confirmation, marriage and death records of the St. Augustine Diocese for the years 1594-1763.
Sea Level Rise and History Beneath Your Feet
Saturday, May 14
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Historic Waterworks Building, 184 San Marco Ave.
Julie Courtney, St. Augustine’s Historic Preservation Officer, and Jessica Beach P.E., the city’s Chief Resilience Officer, discuss what is being done to protect St. Augustine’s historic resources from sea level rise. Next, City Archaeologist Dr. Andrea White describes the archeological challenges and opportunities in a city where no matter where you step, history is beneath your feet.
Saturday, May 14
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Encampment and Demonstrations, Oldest House Museum
7 p.m. The battle begins at the City Gate and goes house-to-house to the Plaza
In 1586, notorious English privateer Sir Francis Drake anchored 23 warships just off St. Augustine. Over the next three days, his men stole everything of value in St. Augustine and then burned the city to the ground. This exciting and colorful reenactment provides an up-close look at 16th Century warfare as Spanish soldiers fight to defend the city from the marauding English – lots of black powder musketry, sword fights and stinging insults.
The following venues not only host events, they offer special Festival programs – some may require paid admission.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, 1 S. Castillo Drive – On May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Park rangers and volunteers will demonstrate what it was like to be a Spanish soldier stationed at the Castillo – the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, 100 Red Cox Drive – It’s 219-steps to the top of the tower where visitors get an unmatched panoramic view of where more than 450 years of history took place. Plus, there are live demos, exhibits, hands-on activities, historic boatbuilding and opportunities to see artifacts discovered by the lighthouse’s own marine archeologists.
St. Augustine Historical Society Oldest House Museum, 14 St. Francis Street - At 4 p.m. on May 12, Dr. Christine Miller will discuss Colonial medical practices. On May 13 & 14, the house will host the encampment of Drake’s Raiders. On May 12, Charles Tingley will be on hand to discuss the preservation of The Llambias House, 31 St. Francis Street. The house will feature special exhibits devoted to its history on May 12-14 – and on May 14, Statz will perform live music from 12:30 – 4 p.m. The Historical Society Library, 6 Artillery Lane, will host a book sale on May 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. And for those with an interest in more contemporary history, the new Museum of Surfing at the Oldest House Complex will be open each day.
Catholic St. Augustine is featuring a History Festival scavenger hunt that takes participants to five of the most important sites in national and local Catholic history. The scavenger hunt is accessible from the Archives of the Diocese of St. Augustine or online via the National Shrine of Our Lady de la Leche App. Scavenger hunt stops are Archives of the Diocese of St. Augustine and the Sisters of St. Joseph, 34 Aviles Street (May 13 & 14, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.); Tolomato Cemetery, 14 Cordova Street (May 13, guided tours 3-5 p.m.); Father Miguel O’Reilly House, 32 Aviles Street, (open 10 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.); National Shrine of Our Lady de La Leche, 101 San Marco Avenue, (open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday); and Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, 38 Cathedral Place (self-guided tours on Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) Prizes for completing the scavenger hunt available at the National Shrine Gift Shop.
Flagler College, 74 King Street - During the History Festival, Flagler College will offer discounted tickets to its acclaimed history tour. To purchase, go to https://shop.flagler.edu
and enter code HistoryFest.
Florida National Guard Museum and National Cemetery, 88 Marine Street - “No Longer Unknown,” a special guided tour of the National Cemetery will take place at 10:30 a.m. on May 14. Receive a guided tour of the historic St. Francis Barracks at 10 a.m. on May 15.
Fort Mose State Park and Museum, 15 Fort Mose Trail - Docent-guided tours of the Museum will be presented on May 12 & 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ($2 admission). During those times, the Spanish militia will demonstrate their 18th century musketry skills.
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, 15 Magnolia Avenue - For the first time, the owner will present a private tour of the Park and share its long history, the story of Ponce de Leon’s search for the Fountain of Youth and the founding of the City of St. Augustine. History Festival passports also entitle holders to discounts at the Park’s restaurant. Beginning May 1, visit the Park’s website for tour reservations.
Lincolnville Cultural Center and Museum, 102 Martin Luther King Avenue - A special screening of the documentary “Crossing St. Augustine” will be shown at 2:30 p.m. on May 14. An audience discussion of the Civil Rights legacy of St. Augustine will follow. Attendance is free, but reservations required and can be made here.
Peña-Peck House, 143 St. George Street - On May 13 at 2:30 p.m., Dr. Roger Smith will discuss the history of the house and its former residents. As ordered by Spain’s King Ferdinand VI, the house was built in 1750 for the Spanish Royal Treasurer. The house will be open to the public throughout the Festival – enjoy the gardens, a cool drink and a slice of cake!
Spanish Military Hospital and Museum, 11 Aviles Street - On May 14 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., enjoy dueling and musketry on Aviles Street – the oldest street in the United States.
Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, 20 Aviles Street - Built as a private residence in 1798, this house later became a popular boarding house. Today, it has been meticulously restored – every room has a story! An Historic Cooking Demonstration will take place on May 13 & 14 at 11 a.m. A Women’s Historic Fashion Session is set for 2 p.m. on May 13 and a Colonial Herb Garden Tour is scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 14. A kids’ scavenger hunt will be available throughout both days!
The Colonial Quarter, 33 St. George Street - Eat, drink and be merry throughout the festival – plus, get an aerial view of the proceedings from atop the watchtower. Taberna del Caballo, a Spanish-inspired tavern and the Bull and Crown offer Old World inspired food, beer and wine with rousing sing-alongs, Spanish guitars and flamenco dancing.