St. Augustine’s Most Threatened Historic Places: 2004
The historic houses are located over an entire city block and are more than a century old. Two of the houses were part of a farm dating from the late 1880s that provided fresh flowers to the Flagler era hotels. The “younger” houses date from the 1920s. These houses represent a style now known as “frame vernacular” that denotes a sophisticated informal style, usually built by local tradesmen without formal plans. Typically, builders of this architectural style based construction upon other buildings that they observed around them and upon their hands-on experience. The timber used to build these structures is today either unavailable or prohibitively expensive.
The State of Florida Division of Historical Resources has review authority over state agency’s actions affecting historic properties. It has weighed in, saying the houses should be relocated rather than demolished. At the same time the City’s Historic Architectural Review Board issued orders to delay the school’s demolition plans for 12 months. It appears the School now intends to relocate the structures off site and build historic-looking houses where the truly historic houses now stand. Although they might resemble the existing houses, the new buildings would have to meet modern safety codes for students. In the end such required adaptations normally alter proportions and make the buildings appear not to be truly historic.
So, what will happen to the historic houses
and the neighborhood? Is there some solution? Residents of the Nelmar Neighborhood
recommend that the school
the properties to their former status—sell the buildings to private residents,
who could revitalize them, retain some affordable housing for the community
and maintain the feel of a neighborhood.