St Augustine has grown up and around the González-Alvarez House, and so the home stands as an architectural time capsule of the city’s evolution. The two-story coquina stone house, built in the years after the English burned the city in 1702, is now a registered National Landmark with elements that typify the city’s varied occupants. Early Spanish colonial elements such as the house’s orientation to take advantage of winds and tabby floors—blend with later changes. A second story was added during the British colonial period, and a framed second floor porch and glass windows were included during the second Spanish period prior to statehood.
Though archaeological evidence suggests the site has been occupied since the 1600s, the current home dates to the early 1700s. Its “oldest house in America” title has been contested and has since reverted to the “oldest surviving Spanish colonial house in Florida.” Regardless, visitors to the Gonzalez-Alvarez House will find plenty of unique historical elements here including some of its resident’s possessions: chipped Romanesque statues, simple wooden furniture, clothing, an ornately carved four-poster bed and a British tea setting. Outside, a replica coquina colonial kitchen features a brick hearth and period cooking implements. The larger Oldest House Museum Complex includes an ornamental garden and two separate museum buildings: the Mauncy Museum detailing the history of the country’s oldest city, and the Page L. Edwards Gallery’s rotating exhibits.
Two blocks from the Mantanzas River, the González-Alvarez is located in Central St Augustine at 14 St Francis Street. The Oldest House Museum Complex is open daily from 10am-5pm; 25 minute long guided tours run on the half-hour with the final tour departing at 4:30pm.
The other buildings under the complex’s umbrella are located around the corner on Charlotte Street. All are included in the $8 adult and $4 student admission. Family packages are available.