Property Spotlight : Rodriguez House

A color photograph of the reconstructed Rodriguez House as it appears today. Flags and other merchandise can bee seen inside and outside of the building.
The reconstructed Rodriguez House as it appears today.

At 58 St. George Street, tucked away behind the main drag down a wooden planked footpath stands the reconstructed Rodríguez House (not to be confused with very nearby Casa Rodriguez).  A small tabby house with a flat wooden roof occupied this site during Florida’s First Spanish Period (1565-1763). The home had no fireplace; rooms were heated with braziers, portable pans that held hot coals.  We know from the Elixio de la Puente map of 1764 that the dwelling at this site consisted of two rooms belonging to Antonio Jose Rodríguez, the son of Jose Antonio Rodríguez of Seville, Spain and his wife Gertrude Morales.

The subsequent British Period in St. Augustine (lasting from 1763-1783) most likely saw the destruction of this small tabby home.  British soldiers pulled down tabby houses to reuse the material on other projects and to burn the wood from the roofs for firewood.

A yellowed newspaper clipping from 1968 with the headline "Ed Ball Donation Puts Old City Restoration Unit Goal in Sight" and a photograph of Ed Ball presenting funds to Herbert E. Wolfe.
Article describing Ball’s gift in 1968. UFDC.
A black and white photograph of Neal Jowaisas demonstrating a potter's wheel at Rodriguez House in 1969.
Potter Neal Jowaisas in the Rodriguez House, 1969. UFDC.

The home was reconstructed to its Spanish colonial appearance in the late 1960s by the St. Augustine Restoration, Inc. The project was completed using funds donated by Jacksonville businessman Edward Ball.  After its reconstruction, the Rodriguez House was used to demonstrate pottery making and decorating as part of St. Augustine’s living history museum San Agustín Antiguo in the 1970s and 80s.  Tourists could even buy some of the ceramic art pieces made there. The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board acquired the house from the Restoration Foundation in 1983.

Today, the Rodríguez House is one of the only former HSAPB properties that still outwardly honors its colonial heritage.  The state of Florida owns the house, while University of Florida Historic St. Augustine, Inc. manages it and rents it as retail space to St. Augustine Textiles.  This shop, established by Jon Williams, offers a broad selection of historical costumes, military uniforms, and accessories to re-enactors, historical interpreters, and tourists alike.  Colonial games and flags greet visitors at the shop’s entryway.

Williams, who used to volunteer in uniform at the nearby Castillo de San Marcos, has about 1,500 items for sale amongst his collection and also takes custom orders.  Thus, at the site of Antonio Jose Rodríguez’s tabby home is now a store selling clothing and wares similar to those he might once have worn and used.  Take a quick detour off of St. George Street next time you are on a walk and check it out!

2 thoughts on “Property Spotlight : Rodriguez House

  1. Pingback: Florida’s First Hispanic Families – Governor's House Library

  2. Pingback: Vecinos en San Agustin (Neighbors in St. Augustine) – Governor's House Library

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