St. Augustine preservation resources

•  Master Site File: available at the City of St. Augustine Planning and Building Department and also at the St. Augustine Historical Society Research Library and Archives. This is the state survey of historic properties in Florida. St. Augustine has several thousand listings on the MSF. The survey includes an architectural description of the property, specific history of the property, and background history of the general neighborhood in which the property is located. A small photograph of the structure is also included from the time of the initial survey, circa 1978.

•  St. Augustine City Directories and Sanborn Insurance Maps: available at the Research Library. The St. Augustine Historical Society and Research Library, located at 11 Aviles Street and open to the public Tuesday–Friday 9-4, contains a massive amount of information regarding the research of one’s historic property. In addition to published local histories, antique photographs, several local maps, biographical files, thousands of reference books, and a well-informed staff, a good starting point are the City Directories and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps. City Directories are available from the late 19 th century to today. It is important to research both the property’s address and the property’s occupants in each directory as a single issue may or may not provide the same information in both of these sections. The Sanborn maps allow a researcher to see a structure’s physical changes in size and building materials over time. Sanborn Maps were created across the United States, and in St. Augustine they range from 1884 to 1946-47. One other extraordinary resource available at the Research Library is the microfilmed version of our local newspapers, specifically that of the Record and its predecessors. A patient researcher will find this an invaluable source.

•  Deed records: available at the St. Johns County Clerk of the Courts Records Room. Every thorough research project includes a full title search. Also available at the County courthouse are a few tax, bond, and miscellaneous books dating to the 19 th century as well as the Probate Office and historic Will books for those interested in learning about the people who built our city. Be sure to ask for the listing of those resources now maintained by the Historical Society at their storage facility on Charlotte Street.

•  Architectural Guidelines for Historic Preservation (AGHP), City of St. Augustine: available at City Hall. This is the document from which the city’s Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) determines its decisions regarding the exterior treatment of those properties within any of St. Augustine’s locally-zoned historic districts.

•  St. Augustine Zoning Code within the City Code of St. Augustine: available online at Learn how new construction can possibly adversely affect an historic neighborhood. Note the absence of protection from demolition for historic resources.

•  Tax incentives for the rehabilitation of income-producing properties: applicable in St. Johns County. The Planning and Building Department of the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Property Appraisers Office can explain who is eligible and how to apply.

•  Members of the community: As in every city, the ‘old-timers’ can provide a wealth of information not otherwise available to the public. Their memories should be tapped and recorded for posterity as they provide insight into a window of time that many of us may not have shared. In addition, there are a number of people that can offer advice regarding the history and research of a property. Don’t hesitate to ask everyone. As an example, private collections of photographs and documents may yield information about properties not normally associated with the person (or his/her property) with which these old documents are now located.