Under the lush St. Augustine palm trees, historic homes paint a picture of the past. As the story goes, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Though first colonized by the Spanish, the influence readily apparent, various cultures also had a tremendous impact on the city. Coquina buildings and cobblestone streets indicate bygone days, and extravagant hotels show a shift in culture and architectural design.
A collection of homes that occupy a city block between Bridge Street, Cordova Street, Palm Row and St. George Street holds a piece of the town’s history, with buildings dating back to the late 18th century. The site served as a 16th-century hospital and cemetery, an 18th-century Spanish defense line, and the setting for a reading of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in Florida. The oldest home on the property, the Murat House, was built in 1790 and was purchased by Kenneth Worcester Dow in the 1930s. Dow had an impressive collection of antiques and artwork that was later showcased in the Dow Museum of Historic Homes, which was housed on the site. Today, the homes have undergone a transformation from museum to luxury inn, specifically The Collector Inn & Luxury Gardens.
The Collector Inn & Luxury Gardens first welcomed guests less than one year ago to revel in the history that marks each corner of the property. Nine historic homes hold 30 rooms in which weary travelers can rest their heads. With the first step onto the property, you are taken back in time — but not so far that you miss all the amenities you have grown to love. The homes have been expertly transformed to accommodate the modern traveler while preserving the history that makes them unique.
The Star Building, the second house built, serves at the lobby of The Collector. It is most commonly referred to as The General Store, a fitting name as its first use was as a general store. Following the Murat House and the Star Building, the Canova House, Dow House, Spear House, Rose House, Howells House, Worcester House and The Well were constructed over a 75-year period. During your stay at The Collector, hear the fascinating history of the property from Melissa Stewart, a docent at the Dow Museum of Historic Homes. She leads property tours each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 10 a.m.
Although it feels like the one-acre property is miles away from civilization, it is actually only steps from the heart of the city. Walk three blocks to reach Plaza de la Constitución, and from there, continue down the heart of St. George Street to see the city’s top restaurants, shops and historic sites. By exiting the front of the property and heading to Martin Luther King Avenue, you will land in Lincolnville Historic District, with hundreds of historic buildings. Stroll the streets by foot or borrow a bike from the inn.
We found ourselves starting and ending each night at The Well. This two-car garage-turned-bar is housed in a coquina building that sits adjacent to the property’s pool. The bartenders are masters of their craft and can concoct any cocktail you throw at them. A handcrafted cocktail and charcuterie plate were best enjoyed outside, where we could admire the homes standing around us. We raised a glass to a trip marked by learning and exploration, with a little relaxation tacked on the end of each day.
Additional amenities you’ll enjoy in the luxury of The Collector include lawn games, heated pool, complimentary afternoon snacks, turndown service and much more. Learn more about the fabulous accommodations at thecollectorinn.com.
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