The St. Augustine experience

“Party like it’s 1565” seemed to be just about everywhere in St. Augustine. The catchy phrase showed up on T-shirts, bumper stickers and perhaps even tramp stamps. (I didn’t spend any time investigating the latter.)

Hotel Alcazar building in downtown St. Augustine houses the Lightner Museum along with City Hall and various other shops . This 1887 Spanish Renaissance Revival style building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hotel Alcazar building in downtown St. Augustine houses the Lightner Museum along with City Hall and various other shops . This 1887 Spanish Renaissance Revival style building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The slogan refers to the Florida city’s founding, making it the oldest continuously occupied, European-settled cities on the North American continent. All of the conditionals are important because there are challengers to the claim. Let’s just say St. Augustine is old. But partying like it was 1565? That’s the unintended story of St. Augustine in a nutshell.

Those who know anything about history, understand that there really wasn’t much to party about in 1565. Ivan The Terrible was about to become terrible. England was still attempting to recover from Henry VIII. France and Spain were jostling for control of the New World. The Spanish would execute some 300 French soldiers and sailors in settling and defending St. Augustine.

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Dawes House in Winter

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From the Dawes website: The Dawes Arboretum was established in 1929 by Beman Dawes and his wife Bertie. The idea for an arboretum came to Beman during his youth in Marietta, Ohio, where his father’s lumber business supported the family.

About 1917, Beman Dawes purchased 140 acres of the old Brumback farm in Licking Township. The farm, known as “Woodland,” offered gently rolling hills and several acres of mature trees native to central Ohio. Beman felt that the farm was well situated; it was located practically in the center of the state with diversified soils and good climate for hardy trees.

The family renamed the farm “Daweswood” and the brick, half-century-old farmhouse became their country home. By this time Beman and Bertie Dawes had passed their love of nature on to their four sons and daughter.

Daweswood served as both a retreat from the family’s East Broad Street residence in Columbus, as well as a place to pursue their horticultural interests.

It was Beman Dawes’ aim to inspire people to plant trees by planting trees at Daweswood. He strove to obtain specimens from all over the world that would survive in central Ohio. The first planned tree planting began in 1917.

By the time The Dawes Arboretum was founded in 1929, over 50,000 trees had been planted and the grounds had doubled in size to 293 acres. Beman and Bertie Dawes created The Arboretum as a private foundation: “To encourage the planting of forest and ornamental trees … to give pleasure to the public and education to the youth.”

Today, The Dawes Arboretum displays nearly 5,000 different types of woody plants. Active records are kept on more than 30,000 individual plants.

To ensure the continuation of The Arboretum, Beman and Bertie Dawes established an endowment fund. Today, the endowment continues to be the major source of funds for The Dawes Arboretum that has grown from 293 acres in 1929 to over 1,800 acres.