Built sometime before the British occupation of St. Augustine in 1763, the Llambias House is one of the oldest houses in St. Augustine. The house is made of coquina, the same material as the famous fort that stands sentinel over the bay, though like most homes of the period the soft, sun-sensitive coquina was (and still is) covered in a thick layer of whitewashed mortar. The living surface was not plush carpeting or even wood, but was instead made out of the most readily-available building material: oyster shells. Tabby was a quick, easy, but crude cement made from crushed and burned oyster shells mixed with sand and water, with more broken shells as aggregate. It was poured into the finished structure and allowed to settle and dry where it became a floor that would eventually wear smooth over time.
Throughout the British occupation and beyond the house continued to evolve from the original Spanish colonial-styled structure to a more spacious two-story building with additional bedrooms and a balcony. More than just the building itself is historic, however, as the actual site of the house sits just within the original planned town layout of the Spanish colonial city which is itself another national landmark. The home’s formal name (The Fernandez-Llambias House) is given for the first known owner Pedro Franandez as shown on the 1764 Puente Map, and two Menorcan sisters Ana and Antoncia Llambias who later owned the house in the 1870s and cultivated a beautiful garden.
The St. Augustine Archaeological Association has celebrated their annual holiday party at the Llambias House, under the stewardship of the St. Augustine Historical Society, for several years now. The beautiful private gardens have been an ideal spot for many to get married. This year the Llambias House faced another challenge in the form of Hurricane Matthew. While it has survived the many storms and fires that have swept through the city over the years, each one is as dangerous as the last. In October when Hurricane Matthew rolled through Florida, the beautiful home suffered another blow when over two feet of water submerged the home’s historic tabby floors and ancient coquina walls.
Yet despite the considerable damage from the storm, the Llambias House was saved and the quick cleanup ensured that this historic structure will be with us for years to come for weddings, for gatherings, and for a bunch of crazy historians and archaeologists to celebrate the holidays.
The St. Augustine Archaeological Association hosts eight gatherings a year, usually on the first Tuesday of each month. Seven of these are lectures by professional archaeologists and historians while the one in December is for the annual Holiday gathering. The lectures are free and open to the public. For more information please contact the St. Augustine Archaeological Association.