Event to highlight historic building’s history, preservation and restoration for future use
Those who have wondered about the about the old brick building, known as the Waterworks, between the Mark Lance Armory and the carousel on San Marco Ave., will have the opportunity this Saturday not only to learn about the building but to tour its interior.
On Saturday, January 12, at 12:30pm, Jenny Wolfe, Historic Preservation Officer for the City of St. Augustine, will offer a free presentation regarding the history of the historic building in the St. Johns County Library Main Branch, 1960 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. The presentation will be followed by a guided tour of the Waterworks. This is the second such presentation and tour offered in partnership with the library following the city-hosted open house at the Waterworks held in May 2018 as part of National Historic Preservation Month.
Until last year the building had been closed to public access for more than a decade. With great community response the city is partnering with the library to provide opportunities to learn about the building’s history and to view the ongoing interior rehabilitation work that has been underway over the last four years.
Parking is available on site at the library and attendees should wear comfortable shoes and clothing for the tour as the building is still under construction and is not air conditioned.
During the tour, visitors will be able to see that the exterior walls are now secure, windows and doors have been restored and the non-historic addition on the west side of the building has been removed. Historic finishes and materials are now visible on the inside although the interior restoration has yet to be completed. Work completed thus far was funded through a state grant that included architectural and engineering plans and construction work over the last four years. Another phase of grant work was ranked highly by the Florida Historical Commission and may begin in late summer if funded pending the legislature.
The Waterworks, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1898 as the pumping station for the city’s first water utility and remained in service until a new water plant opened in 1927 on West King St. The site was then developed into Davenport Park and the building continued use as the Little Theatre, then a home for the St. Augustine Arts Club, and later as the St. Augustine Garden Club.
In 2005 the building was deemed unsafe when inspections revealed that mortar had been reduced to powder in some places threatening the stability of the brick walls that were carrying the load of a heavy truss system. The city began a diligent pursuit of historic preservation funding that would enable the restoration of the building.
For more information about the presentation and tour of the Waterworks, contact the city’s Planning & Building Department at 904.825.1065. View/Download the program flyer here.