Forgotten Aesthetics: What Keeps St. Augustine Quaint

By Ally Wall

In a commercialized bayside slice of the Florida coastline, the world of the present collides with the coquina covered layers of history in St. Augustine. A town where tourism keeps the heart pumping and the lights on within the 100-year-old buildings. 

If one were to Google “Things to do in St. Augustine,” the same attractions would make themselves known: the Castillo de San Marcos, Flagler College, St. George Street, Town Square, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Old Town Trolly, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

Ignored and overlooked are the aesthetics that keep the oldest city in the United States quaint. So, I set out to capture those unnoticed quirks within the less traveled side of St. Augustine that most tourists don’t see.

If one were to walk past the Grace United Methodist Church, the towering spire and captivating textures overshadow the devilishly small details that truly give the building heart. Searching for intricate pieces of design has always been something I have found to be rewarding and mesmerizing, and this overshadowed doorknob is a fantastic example of the beauty found all over St. Augustine.
When I think about a city, I don’t picture greenery or colorful cacti. A wall flourished with cacti lines the smallest street in the United States, Treasury Street. Finding small sprigs of happiness such as this keep me returning to the same places all over town.
As the city grows older, one thing I have noticed a lot more is the growth consuming the coquina walls standing guard in front of hundred year old houses. Watching the landscape grow and change creates a calming and mysterious effect on the soul. The twisting of vines and pops of green frame the often untraveled Cuna Street.
I’ve learned to always watch where I’m walking when traveling down original brick roads all over town, especially on Treasury Street. But something so easy to overlook adds to the old time feel of this historic city. I find that this produces an aesthetic that is crucial to the town since brick roads are becoming obsolete in modern society. The bricks tell a story of the past.
I have always been a fan of intricate detail. Beauty was created all over St. Augustine, and though I’m sure this piece looked fantastic new, it almost seems to be alive today. The wear and tear on the details I found strolling along Avilles Street excited my eye. 
Wherever one looks in St. Augustine, coquina can be found a plenty. Layers of shells form the backbone of buildings and walls. When I would come to St. Augustine as a child I always just walked past these walls, and never gave them a second thought. St. George Street is highly commercialized, until you cross the street and head towards the Sisters of Saint Joseph Convent. I’m astounded at what I overlooked, but now I see that there is so much beauty in life growing out from between the blocks.
Being from a country town, I have always been surrounded by nature. However, the beauty and diversity in horticulture all over the city keeps me searching for more and more. It has taught me to appreciate the small, but abundant things that make St. Augustine the city it is. I had always thought of Palm Row as quaint street, but seeing such beauty in the nature surrounding this bush on the street corner gave me a new appreciation for it.
This pillar located outside of a local bed and breakfast caught my attention for its commanding and strong impression. I sat on the sidewalk alongside Cordova Street, and looked at this for 10 minutes taking in all of the intricate patterns, and wondering how long this has actually been standing. I think that’s one of the most special parts of St. Augustine. Most of the structures, buildings, and trees have been around longer than my grandparents. 
I had never noticed this structure before I specifically went out looking for things that captured my attention. I decided to go down Cordova Street  and found a structure that confused me, and stopped me in my tracks outside of a bed and breakfast. A sphere of coquina nestled upon a brick pillar. Two completely different substances that melded so impressively together.
When I look at this photo, I’m filled with a sense of joy. The vibrant colors and old time look of the striped awning make me want to travel back in time. St. Augustine is filled with vibrant colors, stylings, and architecture from diverse time periods, especially like this door located outside of the Lightner Museum on Cordova Street. The way they all come together to produce the St. Augustine that I live in today keep me in a constant state of pride and amazement.
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