Medici Lion of St Augustine

One of the most famous landmarks in St Augustine, Florida is the Bridge of Lions which connects downtown to Anastasia Island where we stayed on our visit.  The bridge spans the Intercoastal Waterway and  Matanzas Bay and is part of the A-1-A highway along Florida’s east coast.

Known as “The Most Beautiful Bridge in Dixie”, the structure was completed in 1927.  The marble lions, a copy of the ancient design which graced the Villa de Medici in Rome, were gifts of  Dr. Andrew Anderson (1839–1924), the builder of the Markland House, who spent the last decade of his life putting works of art in public places in the Ancient City.

The Bridge of Lions – St Augustine, Florida
Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
70mm @ f8 –  1/800 sec – ISO 200

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St Augustine brick streets

Some of the streets of St Augustine’s historic downtown are paved with brick as shown in this image.  As locals will tell you, it is BRICK – not cobblestone!   This is actually an interesting piece of the local history.

The coastal area of Florida where St Augustine is located, does not have much stone available to build with so, flagstones and cobblestones are not found here.  Many of the surviving historic buildings are constructed of a material known as “Coquina” which is sedimentary rock composed mainly of shells but this is not what was used for the streets.

In the early days of the city, the builders used cypress logs to line the streets and make them more durable but those tended to get washed away when floods came.  In the late 19th and early 20th century, the city began using bricks to pave the streets.  Many of the brick streets have since been paved over with asphalt but some are still visible and the city is making efforts to restore and repair them where possible.

The bricks seen here are marked Reynolds Block and were made by the Tennessee Paving Brick Company of Robbins, Tennessee (later sold to the Southern Clay Manufacturing Company).  This company made bricks from 1888 to 1939 and they grace the streets of a number of historic cities like Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Petersburg, Florida as well as St. Augustine.  Along with Tennesee Paving and Southern Clay, Graves Birmingham also provided bricks for St Augustine’s streets.

It is wonderful to notice the historic details of a place even if it is just under your feet!

Reynolds Block brick streets – St Augustine, Florida
Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
16mm @ f8 –  1/250 sec – ISO 400

Ring the bell

The Roswell Photographic Society wrapped up its annual pilgrimage to the Historic Homes of Roswell with a visit to Barrington Hall.  This image shows a desk with a black felt top and a variety of vintage knick-knacks including a group of little bells.  I don’t know if these are the kind that would be rung to summon servants or if they are just little decorations but I love the patterns and patina on the old objects.

I had to play with lighting this scene since the room was fairly dark and they don’t allow flash photography here.  This is a long exposure (15 seconds) and I used my pocket LED light to selectively brighten some sections while keeping an overall dark feeling.

It is fun to walk through this historic home and see all the household objects representing hundreds of years of life in the south.  Lots of this reminds me of visits to my grandparents homes.  Some of the artifacts are much older but everything here has a sense of the past and makes you wonder what it must have been like to live in this home.  A neat place to visit and a great spot for photographic inspiration.

Barrington Hall – Roswell, Georgia
Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
ProMaster LED120SS light
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/22 –  15 sec – ISO 200

Cracker?

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is one of Florida’s oldest continuously running attractions, having opened on May 20, 1893. There are so many things to see here.  Of course, the alligators and crocodiles are the biggest attraction but there are numerous other animals around like this Blue & Gold Macaw.

I saw this guy in a little area near the gift shop and exit of the park.  I don’t think I would have spent much time here except for the fact that I got in the middle of a parrot attention getting contest.  After I took a few quick images of this one, I noticed a red and green macaw on the other side of the walkway.  I gave that one a look and then turned back and the red one started in to talking.

Cracker? Hello?… The words came out loud and clear and were repeated until I turned back and answered him.  Then the yellow on chimed in, not to be out done and the two went back and forth for a while, competing for attention.  Then they decided to play hard to get.  They both refused to talk when a bunch of kids came around and required coaxing to get any more talking.  Performers are so fickle.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
270mm @ f10 –  1/50 sec – ISO 320

St Augustine sunset

Sunrises were easier to see than sunset when we were at St Augustine because of the weather.  We had rain or overcast skies every day except for this one.  Since the weather was nice we Googled “best place for sunsets” and it said Vilano Beach so, that’s where we went.

Vilano Beach is located on a peninsula of land just north of downtown St Augustine that sits between the Tolomato River and the Atlantic Ocean.  It is pretty much ideal for sunsets since you can look back west over the river and see the sunset over St Augustine.  (Not going to get sunsets over the Atlantic looking east, right?)

We found a small park with a walkway out over the marsh area that leads out to the river and enjoyed the colors in the sky.  It was definitely a beautiful evening.

Vilano Beach sunset

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
26mm @ f25 –  1/5 sec – ISO 100

Byzantine art in St Augustine

Whenst-augustine-7604 planning a visit to St. Augustine, Florida, I had expected to see lots of Spanish and English colonial history.  St. George Street, the main pedestrian thoroughfare of downtown St. Augustine, is packed with shops, restaurants and historical sites.  On this street there is also an unexpected piece of St. Augustine history – a Greek Orthodox shrine.
Called “The Jewel of St. George Street,” the St. Photios Chapel, is dedicated to the first colony of Greek people who came to America in 1768. The Shrine includes exhibits about the history of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, and the St. Photios Chapel.

The St. Photios Chapel is covered with beautiful Byzantine-style frescoes including substantial use of 22 Karat gold leaf.  The icons depict a variety of Christian images, biblical scenes and saints of the Greek Orthodox church.

Saint Photios the Great was Patriarch of Constantinople during the middle of the ninth century.  The Orthodox Church honors Saint Photios as a theologian, a supporter of missionary activity, and a defender of the Faith.  St. Photios was also known for his brilliance and for his missionary zeal.

In 863, St. Photios sent his two nephews from Thessaloniki, known to us today as Saints Cyril and Methodios, to preach the Gospel in Moravia.  St. Cyril is responsible for developing an alphabet (Cyrilic) for the Slavonic people.  As a result of efforts they initiated, the Slavic peoples and nations embraced Orthodox Christianity.

As a Father of the Church, his achievements as Patriarch have earned him a reputation as the greatest of all Patriarchs.

St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine
41 St. George Street
St. Augustine, Florida

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
18mm @ f8 –  1/6 sec – ISO 1250

Pirate Museum

st-augustine-8050One of our favorite places visited on our trip to St Augustine was the Pirate Museum. It is a neat mix of history and pirate lore which appeals to kids and adults alike.  My featured image above is a silver skull decorated with pirate related items.  The museum includes lots of items like this – treasure items related to piracy on the high seas.

I think the thing that impressed me most about the museum was the explanation of how many of the most historically famous pirates were originally either part of or sponsored by the navies of the major colonial powers.  You would think that we would learn from our own history how dangerous it is to train people in the use of military power and then think that you can just turn them off when you don’t need them anymore.  Does the term military contractors sound familiar?

In any case, the museum is a really interesting and fun place to visit.  Be sure to make the stop if you are in St Augustine!

Pirate & Treasure Museum – St Augustine, FL
Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
38mm @ f8 –  1/10 sec – ISO 2500