What Lies Beneath

When archaeologists dig, they reveal centuries of lives and stories from a piece of land. The layers of history and dirt produce the foundation of the St. Augustine Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission’s work. At sites – such as Oliveros House – we can see how stratified history can be in St. Augustine. So today, let us dig into the six buildings revealed in the Commission’s 1963 excavation.

Building 1

At the lowest level of the excavation, archaeologists discovered post holes and short trenches. Paired with historic documents, these findings revealed that a wooden structure existed at this site sometime between 1650 and 1750.

A scrapbook page of black and white photographs showing the demolition and excavation of a building.
The 1963 excavation of the northwest corner of Cuna and St. George Streets. (UFDC)

Building 2

Evidence of a tabby structure appears in some of the excavated walls – such as Wall K seen above. Archaeologists believed that these complex of walls formed at least one building on the site sometime between 1750 and 1768.

A colorful drawn map showing the location of structures and blocks in St. Augustine.
This cropped version of the 1764 Puente Map depicts a building in Quadrant E, #85. (UFDC)

Building 3

According to historic documents, another wooden structure stood on the site sometime between 1768 and 1788. Archaeologists did not locate evidence of it in this dig.

A black and white photograph of the exposed foundations for a coquina structure.
The 1963 archaeological dig reveals Building 4’s foundations. (UFDC)

Building 4

The Manucy House – a coquina two-story building – occurred on the site between 1798 and 1908. Archaeologists found its foundations – seen above – during the dig. From this revelation, archaeologists determined that the ground floor consisted of three rooms and a loggia area.

A black and white photograph of a brick building on a corner with larger window fronts.
The Paffe Building before its demolition and excavation in 1963. (UFDC)

Building 5 + 6

A brick structure replaced the Manucy House sometime between 1908 and 1914. A series of three brick stores – known as the Paffe Building – followed until 1963. The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board acquired the building – seen above – to excavate and reconstruct the 18th century coquina house. The reconstruction – called the Oliveros House – still sits at the northwest corner of Cuna and St. George Streets today.

One thought on “What Lies Beneath

  1. Pingback: Turning the Corner: Part 1 – Governor's House Library

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