Leaving the Hostel on Bridge Avenue, for my morning walk and daily ration of people watching, I stopped alongside the bay to benefit from the water. Whereas I was checking O. C. Whites’ menu, an ideal place to eat overlooking the Bay in St. Augustine, I overheard a pair from Boston. They were engaged in an animated dialog concerning the city’s historical past. “If St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city,” she mentioned difficult her companion, “why do we’ve got so many buildings in the Boston area which are so much older?”
Seeing that her companion did not fairly understand how to answer her, I interrupted their conversation. Interrupting strangers in the midst of a dialog is a habit of mine. Not a behavior my husband notably appreciates, and others have voiced as rude, nonetheless, it is something I do to satisfy new and attention-grabbing folks. I interjected, “The British burned the town down, they usually weren’t the primary to do it. The city has been assaulted by Indians, pirates and others.” I continued, “The British were the last to burn the city down in 1702 after a fifty day siege of the Fort, The Castillo de San Marcos. I suppose they have been mad as a result of they could not knock down the walls of the Fort after fifty days of cannon fire. That is why there are not any buildings older than Boston’s”
I could see the eyes of her companion mild up. “That’s right,” he exclaimed. “Once we visited the Fort, I remember hearing that the structure was made of Coquina; a tremendous stone that was quarried on that Island across the way. However I believed it was twenty days not fifty.”
I smiled broadly; I always get a kick out of how much historical past folks decide up after they go to St. Augustine. “Also true,” I mentioned, “but it surely was twenty-seven days of bombardment by Normal James Oglethorpe in 1740. He gave up and left town; he did not burn it down. The reason the Coquina in St. Augustine’s Fort was so effective towards cannon fire shouldn’t be its hardness however its softness. Cannon balls would sink into it slightly than shatter or puncture the walls of the Fort. The Coquina itself turned out to be a terrific deterrent of hostile forces.”
“That’s some stone.” she mentioned. “Where can we see extra of it?”
“There are various locations to see it in case you look,” I responded. “You will note it at the city gates, in lots of the buildings and stone fences around town. Solely a finite amount was quarried, because the builders discovered it was easier to re-use the stone from broken buildings than quarry extra of it. Then newer strategies started to be used. In truth, the first poured concrete construction in the United States is the Zorayda Castle over on King Street. The Coquina used for navy buildings on the south end of city was re-used to construct the Franciscan convent after which in the inspiration for the barracks, constructed on the identical site.”
I’ve always discovered the use of Coquina in St. Augustine a fascinating story. What I discovered over time is that Coquina is a mixture of mineral calcite and phosphate normally within the form of seashells or coral; in layman’s terms, compressed sea shells. This compression occurred naturally at Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, where early settlers built a quarry to retrieve the stone. Additionally it is discovered uncovered in lots of areas alongside the east coast of Florida from St. Johns to Palm Seashore counties. It may be discovered as far inland as 20 miles from Florida’s east coast.
When Coquina is extracted it is rather mushy. Its softness makes it straightforward to harvest from a quarry and type into varied shapes including block. Nevertheless, earlier than it can be used as a constructing materials it should be left to dry for a couple of years; it is still smooth, however exhausting sufficient to make use of in building.
Coquina is a novel material with an fascinating historical past; just considered one of the many fascinating and unique features found in Saint Augustine. I’ve been coming to St. Augustine for the final six years and have learned many attention-grabbing facts which are particular solely to this area, and I love to seek out unwitting strangers to share my data with during my morning walks.
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