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Eleven Early Photographs of the Oldest Military Installation in the Continental United States and the Catholic Church in the Oldest Parish in the United States

(ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA.) Unknown photographer. A collection of 11 photographs including 8 superb photographs of Castillo San Marcos, the oldest military structure in the continental United States and 3 of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine first built in 1565 and rebuilt in the 1790s

St. Augustine, c. 1874

Eleven albumen prints (6 x 8 in.), mounted and captioned in a contemporary hand. Very good condition.

This remarkable collection of early Florida photographs documents two of the most important early structures in Florida history: the fort Castillo de San Marcos and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Built in 1672 the fort is the only extant 17th-century military structure in the continental United States. The church, located in the oldest parish of the United States (founded in 1565), was built in the 1790s.

The eight photographs of Castillo San Marcos are:

1.    Interior of Fort St. Marco. South West Corner showing entrance to Indian Prison. Old Well in the foreground. St. Augustine. Fla.
2.    Interior of Fort St. Marco Showing entrance to Chapel. St. Augustine. Fla.
3.    Interior of Fort St. Marco. Southeast Corner showing entrance to Dungeons. Chapel on the left. St. Augustine. Fla.
4.    Fort St. Marco. South Front. Showing Drawbridge and Moat. St Augustine. Fla.
5.    Doorway. Fort St. Marco. St. Augustine. Fla.
6.    Entrance to Fort St. Marco. St. Augustine. Fla.
7.    General view of South Front, Lunette Battery, and Moat, from parapet. Fort St. Marco, The Bay. Anastatia island, and Lighthouse in the distance. St. Augustine. Fla.
8.    South Front from Parapet Fort St. Marco. Showing Drawbridge and Moat. St. Augustine Fla.

The three photographs of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine read:

1.    Catholic Church. St. Augustine. Fla.
2.    Catholic Church. The oldest church on the continent of America. St. Augustine. Fla.
3.    Catholic Church. St. Augustine. Fla.

Protecting St. Augustine Florida (the oldest continuously occupied European settlement within the United States and near the site of Ponce de León’s first landing in 1513) the Castillo San Marco was built while the Spanish Empire controlled Florida. Construction of the masonry fort began in 1672 after a devastating raid on the city by the British privateer Robert Searles.

Over the centuries, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, and the Confederate States of America all controlled the fort. Several times over the course of its history the fort was used as a military prison. During the American Revolutionary war, the prisoners included Christopher Gadsden, the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and a delegate to the Continental Congress.

Beginning in 1862 the United States used the fort as a military prison for Native Americans for several decades. One of the images shows the jail that was used for their confinement while another shows dungeons that were presumably used for the same purpose. In later years members of Geronimo’s band of Apache warriors, including women, children, and Geronimo’s wife were imprisoned. Ledger Art, a prominent art form among Plains Native Americans, began at the fort.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is located in the oldest parish in the United States, having been founded in 1565. In 1586 Francis drake destroyed the first church, built in 1565. In 1566 Martín de Argüelles was born in the parish, the first recorded birth of a child of European ancestry in what is now the continental United States.

DATING. The photographs showing the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine allow us to date the entire group, which are on identical mounts and have captions in the same hand. Due to the presence of a side chapel built in 1873, the absence of the rectory built in 1875, and the presence of a stonewall destroyed in 1875 we ascribe a likely date to the series of ca. 1874. The photographs display consistent tones, dimensions, mounts, inscriptions, and aging across the collection.

These images appear to be unrecorded. We have made a comprehensive online survey of photographic collections of the time and place, consulted the Library of Congress’s digital archives, and queried area historical societies.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, from the 18th century until its present status as a National Historic Landmark, has been a mainstay of New World Catholicism. From its past protecting one of the first Spanish possessions in Florida, to its times as a military prison, and now its status as a historical monument, Castillo San Marco has been of continual significance for over 340 years, longer than the history of the United States.

the collection: : $7,500