Leaving the Hostel on Bridge Road, for my morning walk and each day ration of people watching, I stopped along the bay to benefit from the water. Whereas I used to be checking O. C. Whites’ menu, an excellent place to eat overlooking the Bay in St. Augustine, I overheard a pair from Boston. They had been engaged in an animated dialog about the city’s history. “If St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city,” she mentioned difficult her companion, “why do we’ve so many buildings in the Boston space which might be a lot older?”

Seeing that her companion didn’t fairly understand how to reply to her, I interrupted their conversation. Interrupting strangers in the middle of a conversation is a habit of mine. Not a behavior my husband particularly appreciates, and others have voiced as rude, however, it’s one thing I do to meet new and attention-grabbing people. I interjected, “The British burned the town down, they usually weren’t the primary to do it. The city has been assaulted by Indians, pirates and others.” I continued, “The British had been the last to burn the city down in 1702 after a fifty day siege of the Fort, The Castillo de San Marcos. I guess they had been mad as a result of they couldn’t knock down the partitions of the Fort after fifty days of cannon hearth. That’s why there aren’t any buildings older than Boston’s”

I may see the eyes of her companion gentle up. “That is proper,” he exclaimed. “When we visited the Fort, I remember hearing that the structure was made from Coquina; a tremendous stone that was quarried on that Island throughout the best way. But I believed it was twenty days not fifty.”

I smiled broadly; I at all times get a kick out of how a lot historical past people choose up when they go to St. Augustine. “Also true,” I stated, “nevertheless it was twenty-seven days of bombardment by Common James Oglethorpe in 1740. He gave up and left the city; he didn’t burn it down. The explanation the Coquina in St. Augustine’s Fort was so effective against cannon fireplace shouldn’t be its hardness but its softness. Cannon balls would sink into it quite than shatter or puncture the walls of the Fort. The Coquina itself turned out to be a terrific deterrent of hostile forces.”

“That’s some stone.” she mentioned. “Where can we see extra of it?”

“There are various places to see it if you happen to look,” I responded. “You will notice it at the city gates, in lots of the buildings and stone fences around the town. Solely a finite amount was quarried, since the builders found it was easier to re-use the stone from broken buildings than quarry more of it. Then newer methods began for use. In actual fact, the first poured concrete structure in the United States is the Zorayda Castle over on King Street. The Coquina used for military buildings on the south finish of city was re-used to build the Franciscan convent and then in the foundation for the barracks, constructed on the identical site.”

I have all the time discovered using Coquina in St. Augustine an interesting story. What I learned over the years is that Coquina is a mixture of mineral calcite and phosphate normally within the form of seashells or coral; in layman’s terms, compressed sea shells. This compression occurred naturally at Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, the place early settlers built a quarry to retrieve the stone. It’s also discovered uncovered in lots of areas along the east coast of Florida from St. Johns to Palm Seaside counties. It can be found as far inland as 20 miles from Florida’s east coast.

When Coquina is extracted it is rather comfortable. Its softness makes it easy to harvest from a quarry and type into numerous shapes together with block. Nonetheless, earlier than it can be used as a constructing material it must be left to dry for a couple of years; it is nonetheless delicate, however laborious sufficient to use in building.

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Coquina is a singular materials with an attention-grabbing history; simply one in all the many interesting and unique features present in Saint Augustine. I have been coming to St. Augustine for the last six years and have discovered many interesting information which might be specific only to this area, and I really like to search out unwitting strangers to share my knowledge with during my morning walks.

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