SAINT AUGUSTINE –The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum, 20 Aviles St., will participate in this year’s 24th Annual St. Augustine Historic Inns Bed & Breakfast Holiday Tour. Monday, Dec. 11 from noon to 4 p.m. the House Museum will open its doors to hundreds of guests. Ticket prices start at $25 for a variety of tour packages. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the website at www.staugustinebandbtour.com.
Overall, during the public tour dates from Dec. 9 to 13, guests will visit participating inns throughout St. Augustine to be decorated according to this year’s theme, “Coastal Christmas.” A tour guide package with a map will be provided to help navigate the tour. Along with Christmas presentations, the bed and breakfasts partner with some of the finest restaurants in the area to provide delicious food and drink throughout the tour. Each inn partners with one restaurant or culinary specialist, so the samplings are representative of the best each individual local restaurant has to offer.
The charity partners and beneficiaries of the 2017 Tour include Field of Dreams, a specially designed baseball field that will allow mentally or physically handicapped kids the opportunity to play baseball; Community Hospice, which offers a range of services, and the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center, which features exhibits and displays about St. Augustine’s African-American heritage.
According to Julie Vaill Gatlin, the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum’s Executive Director, bed and breakfast tour guests on Dec. 11 will take a self-guided visit through the
16-room, two story lifestyle museum which depicts one of the earliest boarding houses in St. Augustine.
Various rooms will each display a specific motif to reflect the typical guests such as a Sea Captain, Military Officer, a ‘frail’ lady, and a family traveling with children, to name a few. Research and preparation provided by NSCDA-FL member volunteers will showcase the house as it would have looked during a mid-1800’s Christmas with native greenery including magnolia, long leaf pine, and sand pine along with red cedar, coontie and palmetto palms, Palatka holly, Spanish moss, and ivy, to name a few. Winter squash, oranges, pumpkins, pomegranates, red and green cabbage, kale, seashells, pine cones and nuts will also be used as holiday adornments. Bayberry candles will light the rooms to augment the natural light.
BUILT IN LATE 1700s
The Ximenez-Fatio House was built in 1798 by Andres Ximenez, a Spanish storekeeper, the original portion of the coquina house and the detached kitchen became a general store, tavern, private residence and fine boarding house for military officers, sea captains, dignitaries and families from the north and south. The property was purchased by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida (NSCDA-FL) in 1939 and became one of the South’s most authentically preserved and accurately interpreted historic house museums according to several national experts.
The property has been owned and operated as a business by women since 1823, when Florida became a territory of the United States. Margaret Cook, bought the original structure from the Ximenez heirs and turned the building into a boarding house to accommodate visitors coming to St. Augustine and hired Eliza Whitehurst to run the operation. Sarah Petty Anderson then purchased the House in 1838 and retained Louisa Fatio to manage the boarding facility. Miss Fatio bought and enlarged the House in 1855. Ultimately, the NSCDA-FL purchased the property from a Fatio heir.
As a single woman who raised four nieces and one nephew, Miss Fatio had previously operated two boarding houses. She was an educated woman who spoke four languages. Miss Fatio was the daughter of Don Francisco Felipe Fatio, a prominent, successful businessman and landowner in northeast Florida. He was a native of Switzerland and established the New Switzerland Plantation during the mid 1700s in what is now the Switzerland community on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tours of the buildings and rooms are available from 11 am until 3:00 pm, and closed on Sundays and Mondays. The property is available for group functions including weddings and events. During tours, regular admission is free for St. Johns County residents; adults $10; children, students, seniors and military $8, and the family rate is $20. Private group rates are $6.50 per person.
The Ximenez-Fatio House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Historic American Buildings Survey. It is a Florida Heritage Landmark and is also recognized as an integral part of the St. Augustine Town Plan National Historic Landmark District. The House is rated as a top attraction in St. Augustine by TripExpert along with TripAdvisor as a Certificate of Excellence designation venue, awarded to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn the highest levels of reviews from travelers.
Visit the website at www.ximenezfatiohouse.org, Twitter at https://twitter.com/XFHouse and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/XFHouse?v=wall&viewas=0. View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDp_Nr7IAzU. For more information, call 904-829-3575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA):
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), founded in 1891, is an unincorporated association of 44 Corporate Societies with more than 15,000 members. The NSCDA has been a leader in the field of historic preservation, restoration, and the interpretation of historic sites. Today, 41 diverse properties are owned outright by the Corporate Societies of NSCDA. 13 additional museum collections are owned by the Dames and 30 more properties receive substantial volunteer and financial support from Dames.
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida was incorporated in 1899. In 1939, they bought the Ximenez-Fatio House from the Fatio heirs to use as their state house museum. Considered as one of St. Augustine’s best-preserved Spanish colonial dwellings, the museum depicts the boarding house lifestyle of Florida’s Territorial/Early Statehood Period. It is one of the first museums in America to interpret 19th century women’s history.