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The Hypolita Street entrance to Casa del Hidalgo is distinguished by the flag of the Kingdom of Spain. Situated on the Corner of Hypolita and St. George Streets, the building at the crossroads of the city’s restoration district.

Visitor Information Center is Newest Addition to Casa del Hidalgo

Center focus on historic sites and features archaeological display

The city has a new center for visitor information in the historically and culturally significant Casa del Hidalgo located at the corner of Hypolita and St. George Streets. The center will serve as a bridge between the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center, temporarily located on Castillo Drive, and the one located in the lobby of Government House.

The new visitor information center will be open seven days a week from 10:00am until 4:00pm and is managed by the city’s Department of Heritage Tourism.

The information center joins three businesses already operating in the building: Gutié Boutique, a women’s clothing store; Café del Hidalgo, serving French and Italian pastries and specialty coffees; and sobre Zapatos a shoe store featuring Menorcan sandals. The last business to be located in the Casa del Hidalgo will be a piano jazz club which will be located on the second floor when it opens in the coming months.

The information center will focus on providing visitors with maps and guides to the city’s historical sites, specifically noting sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The center will also offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s past through a small but rich display of artifacts recovered under the auspices of the city’s archaeological preservation ordinance.

Members of the St. Augustine City Commission participating in the ribbon cutting of the new visitor information center at the Casa Del Hildago on Thursday, March 16 were (second from left) Susan Burk, vice mayor, George Gardner, mayor, Errol Jones. Holding the ribbon, dressed as 1740 Spanish soldiers were (far left) Chuck Dale, museum manager of the City of St. Augustine and Jeff Eddel, interpretive ranger with the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

Constructed in the early 1960’s by the Spanish Government, the Casa del Hidalgo opened in 1965 as part of St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary. After sitting vacant for over four years, the city purchased the building from the Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (UNED), Spain’s national distance learning university in the fall of 2003.

The Casa del Hildago required extensive renovations to its interior prior to being available for occupancy. Public restrooms were added to the first floor and with the installation of an elevator the second floor of the building will be completely accessible.

With the emphasis on St. Augustine’s historic sites, the center will encourage visitors to explore a broad area of the city beyond the familiar St. George Street area, including locations in the Lincolnville and Flagler Model Land neighborhoods as well as the rich area south of the Plaza, sometimes referred to as “SoPla.”

The center's archaeology exhibit had been on display at the Visitor's Information Center on Castillo Drive, but was removed when that facility was closed for renovation in conjunction with the construction of the city’s parking garage. The exhibit contains artifacts spanning St. Augustine’s four centuries of history as well as Native American occupation of the area dating back 10,000 years. It is fitting that center’s opening this month coincides with the 13th Annual Florida Archeology Month.

Casa del Hidalgo as seen looking north along from St. George Street today (above) and when it was newly constructed in 1965 (below).


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