SAINT AUGUSTINE – – The historic Ximenez-Fatio House Museum at 20 Aviles Street in downtown St. Augustine, recently hosted members of The Watsonia Garden Circle of the Garden Club of Jacksonville, Inc. The group also included property owners of the House who are members of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in The State of Florida (NSCDA-FL).
The group of 14 women study horticulture and planned their spring program to view the plants and flowers in full bloom at the House which replicate a variety of edible fruits, vegetables and herbs used in meal preparations for guests at the circa 1798 original boarding house. Club members also learned about the property and its rooms in one of St. Augustine’s best-preserved Spanish colonial dwellings depicting one of the guest lodging lifestyles during Florida’s Territorial/Early Statehood Period. It is one of the first museums in America to interpret 19th century women’s history.
The Watsonia Garden Circle is one of numerous member groups in the Garden Club, inspired by the gardens of Europe by Ninah May Holden Cummer at her Riverside home in Jacksonville in 1922. The original garden club was formed to create a more beautiful city and ultimately became the Garden Club of Jacksonville, Inc. Now, with more than 900 members, Garden Club of Jacksonville, Inc. located at 1005 Riverside Ave. in Jacksonville, is one of the four clubs founding the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. (FFGC).
The Watsonia Circle, named after plants in the Iris family, supports local nonprofits including Jacksonville Arboretum, a 120-acre urban woodland; St. Johns RIVERKEEPER, an independent organization that defends, advocates, and activates the protection and restoration of the St. Johns River, and the Penny Pines Program which funds the replanting of replacement trees indigenous to damaged areas.
The recent Garden Circle tour at Ximenez Fatio House supports the NSCDA-FL mission to support public outreach which promotes the nation’s heritage through preservation, patriotic service, and educational projects.
As a visitor destination, the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum is open for tours from Tuesday through Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm and guided tours of the buildings and rooms are available from 10 am until 2:30 pm, closed on Sundays and Mondays. The property is available for group functions including weddings and events. During tours, regular admission is $5 for St. Johns County residents; adults $10; children, students, seniors and military $8, and the family rate is $25. 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.