Thursday, November 25, 2010

St. Augustine

I would be very remiss if I failed to mention two other buildings of the Gilded Age built in St.Augustine. The Villa Zorayda was built in 1883 by a Boston millionaire, Franklin Smith. He had fallen in love with the Alhambra while visiting Spain and was determined to build his home in that style. The end result was an exact replica of one wing of that palace, but one-tenth its size.
The second owner of this place turned it into a gambling casino in 1922. It was quite the social gathering place for wealthy vacationers back at that time. However, it was closed and turned back into a home when Florida outlawed gambling in 1925. Today it is a beautiful museum with antiques and paintings from around the world. Ripley's Believe It Or Not! original museum is another building constructed during the late 1800s. It was built in the style of Moorish Revival. The second owner was Norton Baskin, the husband of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling. They ran it as a hotel and resided in a third floor apartment of the hotel.
What I love about St.Augustine is the influence of the Old World, seen not only in its buildings, but also in the narrow streets and courtyards tucked between the homes and shops. And I felt like I was back in Spain when I saw the fountain below, it was a gift from St.Augustine's sister city of Spain, Aviles, to the city.  Aviles has the original  of that fountain in one of its neighborhoods.

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