Florida’s First Hispanic Families

You may have walked up and down St. George Street countless times and never noticed the Rodriguez House, a petite structure unusually set far back from the road. It’s nestled between the former Monk’s Vineyard and the Spanish Dutch Convoy shop near the intersection of St. George and Cuna Streets. Though it’s small in square footage and stature, this reconstructed home has some of the deepest Hispanic roots of any of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board’s projects! Let’s dive into the history of the Rodriguez family.

A color photograph of Rodrigues House as a textile and flag shop.
The Rodriguez house as it appears today.

The de la Puente map tells us that the tiny two room tabby home found on this site was owned by Antonio José Rodriguez, along with another small tabby structure. Antonio was the son of José Antonio Rodriguez and Gertrude Morales. His family originally hailed from Sevilla, Spain. His wife, María Manuela Rodriguez, was the daughter of Agustín Rodriguez and María Aguilar, hailing from Granada, Spain. The two Rodriguez were married in 1719. The Rodriguez family name is one of the oldest in Florida, and considered part of the “First Florida Families.” Descendants of the family are still living in St. Augustine today!

The Rodriguez home was especially typical of how many homes in the early settlement of St. Augustine would have appeared. Most residents of St. Augustine were not wealthy and didn’t live in huge homes. St. Augustine was a military outpost and most settlers were either soldiers at the Castillo de San Marcos or family members of soldiers. Homes were simple, small, and functional. This home, like many others would have had a walled courtyard to protect the family from outsiders, and a loggia to use for cooking and gardening.

A black and white photograph of Rodriguez House after its reconstruction in 1968.
Rodriguez House after its reconstruction, 1968. (UFDC)

Antonio Rodriguez and his family left St. Augustine with most Spaniards in 1764 when the British took control of Florida. Unfortunately, their home disappeared shortly after the British arrived; British soldiers destroyed many of the tabby homes to use the wooden frames for firewood, which was a scarce resource.

A black and white photograph of a woman sculpting a bowl on a kickwheel.
Evalina Manucy on a kickwheel in the Pottery Shop (Rodriguez House), 1968. (UFDC)

The Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board reconstructed Antonio and María’s home with donations from Edward Ball. The home was used as a pottery studio during the years that San Agustin Antíguo was in operation. Today, the Rodriguez home is a textiles shop that sells costuming and accessories for reenactments.

One thought on “Florida’s First Hispanic Families

  1. Pingback: Property Spotlight : Rodriguez House – Governor's House Library

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