The sound of a blacksmith’s hammer once rang out from what is now Crucial Coffee Cafe. Fifty years ago the wood frame structure on Charlotte Street operated as a blacksmith shop. The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board based the reconstruction on a blacksmith shop from the late 1700s. The shop operated as part of the Preservation Board’s San Agustin Antíguo (Old St. Augustine) Museum – offering visitors a glimpse into colonial St. Augustine.
“Blacksmithing was craft that the Spanish had raised to a high art. Smiths in St. Augustine, isolated from the necessary raw materials confined their work to simple architectural hardware and tools.”A description from a San Agustin Antíguo Museum Interpretive Map (UFDC)
A.H. “Coco” Mickler – a trained blacksmith of Minorcan descent – worked in the shop. Mickler offered demonstrations of his craft to visitors. He also made hardware for the Preservation Board’s other reconstruction projects. He created metal-ware such as cooking utensils, sconces, hinges, and nails.
Today, many of these items are still in use throughout St. Augustine. So the next time you stroll down St. George Street, take a closer look to see the extraordinary skills of smiths – like Mickler – displayed all around us.
You can learn more about colonial blacksmiths and see demonstrations by visiting the Colonial Quarter or Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.