Friday, January 28, 2011

More Mysteries under St Augustine

This photo shows you everybody who’s anybody in St Augustine archaeology, puzzling over the latest find under our streets.  Carl Halbirt, Susan Parker, Buff Gordon, Herschel Shepherd, and Kathy Deagan (blond hair, green shirt with her back to the camera) and St Augustine Archaeological Association members Toni Wallace, Janet Jordan and Lin Masley ponder a series of 16th/17th century postholes.

The postholes (now just stains in the soil) were found in the course of digging up San Marco Avenue to put a tourist trolley stop in across the street from the Castillo de San Marcos. There are many postholes of varying sizes, and speculation is that these were from temporary buildings used during the construction of the earliest fort in the 16th century.  There is also the possibility that the buildings were storage buildings or some other utility structures. Herschel Shepherd suggested that we consult Spanish traditional architectural styles to answer some of the questions about the size, placement and possible use of these buildings.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Spanish New Orleans?

Spain had a significant but now nearly ignored or even unknown influence on Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular. I’m in New Orleans this week and thought I’d look for Spanish traces.


I didn’t have far to look. The Cabildo was built as the  headquarters for the Spanish governor and council in the 18th century. Spain acquired Louisiana shortly after it gave up St Augustine, in both cases because of the settlement of the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War).  Louisiana was under Spain from 1764 to 1803; in fact, it was Spanish until just a few days before the Louisiana Purchase, which made it American.  In a complicated treaty maneuver, Spain returned Louisiana to France, and the US then purchased it. In fact, the agreement for the Louisiana Purchase was signed in the Cabildo, which nowadays is the Louisiana State Museum.

Interestingly enough, the Spanish governor of Louisiana was a man named Alejandro O’Reilly. Yes, that’s right: another of the Wild Geese, the Irish who went to the Continent.  He’s no relation to St Augustine’s Fr. Miguel O’Reilly, his contemporary and fellow Irish Spaniard.

Here’s another little trace of Spain.  If I find any more, I’ll let you know.