Our New Baby

So, netties, yesterday I told you that the hub and I finally stopped yapping about buying a bed and breakfast and we actually did it. Finally.

Today I’d like to tell you a little more about our new baby. And by new baby, I mean ancient baby, because the building dates back to the 1700′s. Which is older than any building that we’ve ever owned before.

The building that now makes up the Bayfront Marin House is actually several buildings that stretch all the way from Marine Street to Avenida Menendez (that’s a whole block, folks). The oldest building is in the back, a colonial structure at 47 Marine Street. It dates from the Second Spanish Period. The first recorded notice of a house on the property is in the Roque map of 1788, which shows a wooden building. Francisco Marin, one of the members of the Minorcan colony who had taken refuge in St. Augustine acquired the house and the lot in the 1780′s.

Although it was built 200 years later, the building clearly shows the original owner’s knowledge of the early regulations for building that were laid out by the King of Spain in 1573. It stated that in hot climates, the streets should be narrow and “all town houses are to be so planned that they can serve as a defense or fortress against those who might attempt to create disturbances or occupy the town.”

Ready for any kind of disturbance, the house is built right to the street line, with masonry walls extending north and south from the facade, as if it was enclosing a compound. Entry is not from the street (too easy for ne’er-do-wells to just walk in, I suppose), but instead through a door on the south side. This door is now the entrance to our aptly named Francisco Marin room, a guest room that still shows off some of the original coquina walls (please note: the electric fireplace is for modern ambiance, not historical accuracy. I don’t believe Senor Marin had an electric fireplace during his ownership). Here’s a picture of the room, in case you’d like to request it when you come visit:

This room is one of my favorites, not just because it’s the oldest, but because the horse and carriage tours still go by it on Marine Street. You can close your eyes, sink back in a pillow, and imagine you’re an 18th century princess. One who had the foresight to install air conditioning, of course.

But back to the Bayfront Marin House. Almost a century after Francisco Marin bought his little piece of the American dream, Captain Henry Belknap decided to purchase a little Victorian Cottage that is now the front of the Bayfront Marin House (it’s the King George and Marie Antoinette rooms, which face the bay). Here are those two rooms (please note: I had nothing to do with the decorating. I was lucky enough to purchase the inn at the END of its restoration for once, rather than the beginning. So any compliments truly belong to the old owners, the Graubards).

After Captain Henry moved in, he must have decided he needed a little bit more room for when his family came to visit, so he purchased a cottage owned by Andrew Burgess in 1893. It was located just north of the Marin House, but the good cap’n moved it to his property and just attached it to the back of his own home. We named Room #3, the Hopkins Cottage, after him.

Soon after marrying these two houses together, Captain Henry bought the remodeled coquina Marin house (the one I mentioned first in this blog) and began to make wooden additions to it. So he combined the three structures–ranging in period from the colonial era to the Flagler period–to make the rambling structure that we now know as the Bayfront Marin House.

Alas, Captain Henry died in 1909, and it was sold to John Campbell. Mr. Campbell turned the big building into apartments, running it until Beulah Robinson Lewis of Virginia bought the place in 1932. Beaulah’s family owned it until 1988, when the guy we bought it from bought it with a partner. He opened the Bayfront Marin House Bed and Breakfast in July 2003.

Then, on September 1, the hub and I got the big set of master keys to the place. Which makes me feel pretty important as I walk around the grounds. Or maybe more like Schneider on One Day at a Time. To be honest, it depends on the day.

And the rest, as they say, will be history.

I’ll be sure to tell you how it goes!!

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