Here at Governor’s House, we spend a lot of time researching and talking about the buildings that the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board restored and reconstructed, but lately we’ve become interested in learning more about the people who made the dream of San Agustín Antiguo, their museum village, possible. One couple in particular, Kjell and Anne Lunestad, were instrumental in the operation of San Agustín Antiguo for decades, and we want to honor their contribution to our crafts programs.
The Lunestads originally hailed from Norway and emigrated to the United States in 1953. Anne was a weaving and spinning expert who had learned the skills from her mother-in-law in Norway. She demonstrated the art of spinning wool and flax as well as candle dipping at the Arrivas House.
Kjell was an enormously skilled wood carver and carpenter who had been honing his craft from a very young age. Before San Agustín Antiguo, he had worked on a project at the Mission Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine. The Preservation Board hired him in 1967 to be their carpenter. He demonstrated the trade for guests at the Sanchez de Ortigosa House on the corner of St. George and Cuna Streets. The carpenteria was designed to resemble one from the early 18th century, the First Spanish Period in St. Augustine, and located near the original site of a carpenter’s shop.
Lunestad could make anything that was requested, but his specialties were monks chairs and Spanish hope chest reproductions, which visitors could purchase and take home as a St. Augustine souvenir. Lunestad himself did all of the work from start to finish on each piece. He primarily worked with white pine and fir, as those were the materials that would have been readily available to early settlers. Besides the souvenirs he crafted, many of the pieces he made were used as furniture and decor in the interpreted homes along St. George Street.
Lunestad also repaired antiques and artifacts acquired by the Preservation Board from around the world. His fine work, which used no nails, is still part of our artifact collection today and some items are even used for special events in Governor’s House! We’re very thankful that the Lunestads found their way to St. Augustine and lended their talents to the Preservation Board.