Dive deeper into St. Augustine's history on the Governor's House Library blog
Information about Governor's House and our collections
Information about the Special and Area Studies Collections department.
Digital projects, exhibits, and publications about Governor's House and St. Augustine
UF's direct-support organization managing historic properties in St. Augustine
View digital collections related to St. Augustine
First Day of Issue: St Augustine's Quadricentennial Stamp
On display at Governor's House Cultural Center and Museum beginning May 13, 2022.
Presence/Erasure: Black History in St. Augustine
On display in the Second Floor Gallery of the Smathers Library beginning in July.
Governor’s House Library holds the collected and created papers of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board (HSAPB). A state agency created in 1959 by Governor LeRoy Collins, the HSAPB restored and reconstructed historic structures to reflect St. Augustine's history as a Spanish colony. Much of their work was completed prior to St. Augustine's Quadricentennial, or 400th Anniversary, in 1965.
Their library grew as an academic foundation for the interpretational work of the HSAPB. Information about how houses were constructed historically, how they were furnished, who lived in them, and the daily work and recreation in colonial times were all subjects of research for the HSAPB staff. The collection they developed included books, photographs, maps, and archival documents. The library’s collection quickly grew to include a wide variety of artifacts, from tools to textiles, artwork to furniture, and everything in between.
The State abolished the HSAPB in 1997, and the City of St. Augustine assumed control of the historic properties. For over ten years, the research library in Governor’s House (also known as Government House) was operated by the City of St. Augustine Department of Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism. In 2010 the State of Florida took over the stewardship and maintenance of the historic properties and the Preservation Board's collections.
Governor's House Library is managed jointly by UF Historic St. Augustine, Inc. and the George A. Smathers Libraries, with the mission of preserving and providing access to the historical resources that enhance understanding and appreciation of St. Augustine's built heritage. The collections held by the library provide insight into the changes made to St. Augustine's streetscape over time.
The library is on the second floor of Governor's House Cultural Center and Museum. We are open to researchers by appointment only from 10 AM - 4 PM Monday - Friday. For more information about our research policies, visitation, and accessibility information, please see our Visiting Governor's House tab. To view our finding aids and learn more about the materials we have available for research, please see the Governor's House Finding Aids tab. Thank you!
St. Augustine is located on the Atlantic coast of northeastern Florida. It is considered the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in what is now the contiguous United States. St. Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. He named the settlement "San Agustín", as he had first sighted land in Florida on August 28, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo. The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years. It was designated as the capital of British East Florida when the colony was established in 1763; Great Britain returned Florida to Spain in 1783. Florida became a United States territory in 1821, and the 27th state in 1845.
St. Augustine was a prominent location in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Its Black community hosted many non-violent protests including sit-ins, kneel-ins, and wade-ins against segregation that garnered the attention of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. King visited St. Augustine in June 1964 to join the local fight as the protesters met arrests, violence, verbal assaults, and death threats from white segregationists. National coverage of St. Augustine during this time was a key factor in the support and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
St. Augustine has been a popular tourist destination since the 1880s when Henry Flagler developed much of the downtown area into seasonal hotels for wealthy vacationers. Flagler's construction of Spanish Renaissance Revival-style buildings kickstarted a movement to preserve the Spanish colonial structures of St. Augustine. A state agency was established in 1959 to restore and reconstruct historic structures. Eventually, a living history village, San Agustin Antiguo, emerged for visitors to learn more about colonial life in the city. St. Augustine has relied on tourism and heritage tourism as the primary sector of the local economy for decades, with nearly 6 million visitors per year.