Every room has a story. Come hear them all.
Built as a merchant’s home and place of business in 1798, the coquina stone Ximenez House later became “Miss Fatio’s,” St. Augustine’s most fashionable boarding house. Today, it is a historic house museum, carefully researched and authentically restored to reflect its heyday during Florida’s first tourism boom from the 1830s through the 1850s. Every room tells a unique story about early visitors and how they experienced the Oldest City. Hear them all on an unforgettable guided tour.
History comes alive
The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum has fascinating stories to tell about a little-known period in Florida history. Each room is meticulously interpreted to bring the past to life in a visual and entertaining way. Best of all, through ongoing research and archaeological discoveries, House stories continue to unfold.
Top 10 reasons to visit today
Unlike many historic properties, the coquina rock house and its detached kitchen have been restored without replacing original building materials. Inside, all artifacts and furnishings have been painstakingly researched and sourced for accuracy. It is considered the most authentic 18th century building in St. Augustine.
#3. Women Entrepreneurs
The House has been owned and managed by women since the early 1830s, an era when it was unusual for a woman to own property or earn a paycheck. These astute businesswomen used their household management skills to earn a living. In the process, they set the standards for modern tourism, the backbone of Florida’s economy today.
“The tour was something you do not hear about, powerful women of St. Augustine and early Florida.” — visitor from Jacksonville, Florida
Built south of the plaza on the oldest platted street in North America and the oldest continuously settled section of St. Augustine, the House was on the main route from the fort to the military hospital to the soldier barracks on the south end of town. The area still has the small blocks and charming narrow streets of the early city, lined with small shops and restaurants.
In 1798, Andres Ximenez constructed the building of locally quarried coquina rock, the area’s most expensive building material — and one that has stood the test of time. The House is also an exceptional example of St. Augustine Plan architecture, an elegant hybrid style developed during the Second Spanish Colonial Period.
This is one of the few historic properties in St. Augustine owned and operated by a private non-profit organization. And after almost 200 years, the property is still held and managed by women.
#8. Beehive Oven
The historic detached kitchen contains an original 1800s beehive oven, believed to be one of three still surviving in Florida. In its day, this was a marvelous technology and an indispensable tool for a kitchen that fed many guests three times a day. Its fire would have burned all night to ensure that baking could begin at dawn.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida purchased the property as their state museum in 1939. Neglected for many years, the original structure was intact but in dire need of attention. The Dames hired William Seale of Williamsburg fame and other leading restoration experts to begin the decades-long process of returning the House to its former glory. For 75 years, top American architects, historians and archeologists have guided the restoration and interpretation of this important house museum.
The extraordinary care and personal touch given to the Museum create an intimate connection with the past, making the property uniquely engaging and fascinating. Perhaps this is the reason TripAdvisor ranks us a top attraction in St. Augustine year after year.
Top 10 reasons to visit in the 1800s
In an era when visitors typically stayed all winter, restaurants were almost nonexistent, and most short-stay hotels were anything but genteel, a boarding house was the obvious choice. Cuisine, or “board,” was of particular importance. Our food and wine were mentioned in local papers as the finest in town. The Dining Room and Detached Kitchen with Beehive Oven celebrate this distinction.
#2. Healing climate
#3. Military duty
#4. Family holidays
#5. Safe haven
#6. Port calls
#8. Curiosity seekers
#10. Intellectual conversation
Sophisticated and well educated for their time, the owners and managers of the House provided quality accommodations and attracted a fashionable clientele. These winter guests from cosmopolitan cities like New York, Boston and Charleston were often welcomed into the spacious Owner’s Quarters upstairs for an evening of music and conversation. Sometimes favored locals were also invited.
Founded in 1891, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) is dedicated to preserving America’s past for future generations. The national organization and its 44 state societies actively promote our national heritage as educators and leaders in historic preservation, restoration and the interpretation of historic sites, including 85 properties across America.
Learn more at www.nscda.org.