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A St. Augustine attraction for history enthusiasts, curious souls and those who enjoy marvelous architecture, The Oldest House Museum Complex offers many things for many people. Owned and operated by the St. Augustine Historical Society, the complex includes Florida’s Oldest House, two museums, a changing exhibition gallery, an ornamental garden, and a museum store.
Built on a site occupied since the early 1600s, the present structure, with coquina walls and hand-hewn cedar beams, dates from the early 1700s. The house is known locally as the González-Alvarez House after its owners during the first and second Spanish occupations. A number of alterations brought the house into its current shape and size, reflecting both Spanish and British architectural styles. The house is furnished to represent its different periods.
The Oldest House is Florida’s oldest surviving Spanish Colonial dwelling and a National Historic Landmark. The Oldest House opened as a museum in 1893. Docents lead guests through an escorted tour of the house and give an overview of how the changing colonial tides of St. Augustine impacted the residents of the Nation’s oldest city through an account of the people who lived in the house. The 25-minute tour brings St. Augustine’s history to life through the lives of its residents.
As you stroll through this amazing structure, you’ll learn about the Spanish, British and American occupations of St. Augustine and gain insight into what life was like for the colonists during those times. Then, take time to see the Manucy Museum, where a comprehensive exhibition reveals more than 400 years of Florida history, including the enthralling past of the Oldest House and its residents.
Inside the Tovar House, visitors can follow Florida’s military history in the Museum of Florida’s Military. You’ll see uniforms, weapons and equipment from the Colonial Period to the Persian Gulf War. After, stop into the Page L. Edwards Gallery, where you can see collections of artifacts belonging to the Historical Society as well as traveling collections. The Oldest House Garden, with its large oak trees, is a place where tranquility transcends every generation. Take in its traditional ornamental beauty amongst plants grown by Spanish, British and American colonists. Before you leave the Oldest House Museum Complex, be sure to visit a historic map exhibit entitled “Five Centuries of Our Coast,”. And stop by the Museum Shop where you can purchase gifts, souvenirs and books on Florida history.