September 19 2018
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
History’s highlight Matanzas massacre – an analysis  Historians have debated for centuries the wisdom of Pedro Menendez’ decision to put to the sword survivors of the French fleet destroyed in a hurricane while Menendez seized the French Fort Caroline in September 1565. Sister M. Adele Francis Gorman, O.S.F., historian for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, considers arguments in the debate. Spanish Ambassador Francisco de Alava listed five reasons why Menendez was justified in putting the French to death: there was not enough food for both French and Spanish in Florida; the French were not regular soldiers, therefore they met pirates’ deaths; they were preaching evil doctrines to the natives; they outnumbered the Spanish, therefore, it was a matter of survival, and, there were not enough ships to send them home. There are facts which nullify what Ambassador Alava called the necessity of Menendez’s brutality. For the Spanish there was food sufficient to last, with rationing, until January 1566, and Menendez had already sent to Spain for more supplies. In addition, the rich supplies brought by (Jean) Ribault to Fort Caroline were still in the fort until after the first massacre when Menendez ordered the burning of the fort. That Menendez thought the French to be pirates cannot be denied and, of course, pirates could claim no protection under any flag. The presence of ministers also seemed to verify Menendez’s belief that the intruders were preaching evil doctrines. The minimum number of French saved from Fort Caroline and from shipwrecks south of St. Augustine was 500, including about 440 men. Menendez gave the number for those who traveled with him from Spain to St. Augustine as 800. Of these, 500 were soldiers, 300 of whom were at San Mateo (the new name for Fort Caroline), and 200 were sailors who had remained with the fleet. Therefore, he had approximately 200 men to care for twice as many French captives. Finally, Menendez claimed that he had not enough ships to send all the French prisoners back to their country. Two of the Spanish ships had already returned to Europe for more supplies, and two had gone to San Mateo to take the French women and children to Santo Domingo. None of the French ships had been captured. Reducing the number of captives by the number at San Mateo, and placing a full load of French on the one French ship, would have diminished the unevenness in ratio of French to Spanish. It is almost impossible to find an unbiased recounting by eyewitnesses; one can only try to adhere to a middle course. A study of the state papers from the various embassies and other sources uncovers a number of discrepancies which might easily alter what appear to be valid conclusions.
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Bayfront Connectivity ribbon cutting Friday A pedestrian connection from the Bridge of Lions to the recently completed seawall south of the bridge will be dedicated with a ribbon cutting Friday, September 21 at 9 am. The project was originally an idea of City Commissioner Roxanne Horvath as a way to make more of the city’s bayfront pedestrian friendly. The city’s General Services Department, which oversaw the project, secured supportive funding from the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and the St. Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District (SAPWBD) with grants of $200,000. The city added $250,000. The connection runs along the Municipal Marina. Completion of reconstruction of the Municipal Marina’s docks which were damaged in last year’s Hurricane Irma is expected next month. Parking along Cathedral Pl. and King St. is complimentary until 10 am.
Hamblen House closes     American Legion Post 37 mired in debt The landmark Hamblen House on the bayfront, after undergoing a two- year renovation and opening of an expanded restaurant only months ago, has closed as home to American Legion Post 37. The nonprofit Forward March Inc., organized in 2013, raised more than $750,000 for collateral on a line of credit of almost $1.5 million to renovate the restaurant and club meeting space. The Charles F. Hamblen Club Inc. nonprofit was deeded the property through the Hamblen family estate in 1933. Club president Loretta Lombard says the property will be rented out as a venue for community groups, weddings and special events to cover debts left by the legion post. The long-term plan is to find a new tenant to take over management of the restaurant. The restaurant had good reviews after opening, but, “The Legionnaires had no business being in the restaurant business,” said Forward March’s Ron Birchall, and former Post 37 commander Mick Barnes agreed, “We didn’t have experience managing a restaurant.” The legion will be searching for a new home for the first time since the early 1940s.
Mobility fee may help curb traffic challenges The city has budgeted $175,000 to study the possibility of a mobility fee to help manage its traffic challenges. Mobility fees are a form of impact fee on new development. The Florida Department of Transportation says a mobility fee equals additional transportation demand from development times the identified cost for transportation improvements to mitigate the development impact. Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach and Ormond Beach are among 23 cities statewide with mobility fees. A professional analysis is required for charging a mobility fee, which state law regulates. Mobility Manager Reuben Franklin hopes to have a consultant contract signed in October. The contractor’s work will determine how the fee could be applied and how much.
Librarian to present Tin Can Tourists’ photos Historical Society Librarian Bob Nawrocki will introduce the Meyer family - early residents and later tin can tourists – in a talk Monday, September 24, 7 pm in the Flagler Room at Flagler College. The Meyers lived in St. Augustine in the 1870s and 1880s and returned as tin can tourists (camper travelers) after 1918, says Nawrocki. He’ll show their photographs, printed from glass plate negatives, and tell their story. “They were prolific amateur photographers and their images show a side of St. Augustine that is usually not seen,” says Nawrocki.
Former Local Heros goes for mall design Architect and former city commissioner Don Crichlow, who struggled through months before the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) to get approvals for demolition of 18 St. George Street, returns to that board Thursday, September 20, for a Certificate of Appropriateness to construct new buildings between Spanish and St. George Streets “designed with Spanish Colonial character,” Crichlow says. The regular HARB meeting begins at 1 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall. Crichlow earlier presented designs for board opinion for the property, notable as home to several prominent families in the city’s history, but more recently as Local Heros Café, often cited for noise complaints before finally closing. Hotel seeks design approval The board will also consider preliminary approval for Entry Corridor Design Standards for a hotel on N. Ponce de Leon Blvd opposite Depot Square. While the hotel, whose design was characterized as “a fairly standardized franchise hotel” by board member Paul Weaver at a previous meeting, is not in a city entrance corridor, a portion of the rear parking area fronts on entry corridor San Marco Avenue, so design approval is required.
Florence to Florida A pop-up exhibition of academic works from the Florence Classical Arts Academy (FCAA) will be displayed at the St. Augustine Art Association September 25-30. On Tuesday, September 25, at 7 pm Rev. Vladimir Kaydanov, an Associate Professor of Art History at The Florence Classical Arts Academy will comment on master works of Classical Art from theological, structural, and symbolic perspectives.
Solar Stik ships 100th Power System to Army St. Augustine’s homegrown Solar Stik alternative energy system manufacturer has marked the completion and shipping of its 100th Hybrid Power System 7000 to the US Army while celebrating the growth of its team from 22 members to 35 since the initial order for the HPS 7000 in 2014 and ground breaking for a new research and development building. The new facility will house 3D printers, multiple computer stations, and specialized testing machines. Solar Stik is headquartered on West King Street, adapting several buildings including the former Morrison Hardware just off US 1.
Rails to trails is recycling history The Florida East Coast rails no longer throb with the sound of trains rumbling from St. Augustine to Palatka roughly on the course of today’s SR 207. But the path is being recycled to the whir of bicycles through the countryside, part of the East Coast Greenway rails to trail project that stretches along the nation’s east coast. For resident film maker Derek Hankerson, the section running through Spuds, Elkton and Armstrong is a trail through his family’s history. Hankerson is part of a team that produced a film called “Gullah Geechee Corridor & the East Coast Greenway,” a film highlighting the African history that runs alongside cycling routes. Armstrong is one of the county’s “oldest African-American settlements,” according to a marker on the trail, settled by Africans known as Gullah Geechee after the Civil War. Hankerson, who grew up in Armstrong, said his goal is not only to raise awareness of African history in St. Johns County, but also draw more minority tourism to the county. Hankerson said he’s in talks with PBS about showing the film, and he expects it will be available on iTunes and other platforms later in the year.