Bridge of Lions

bayfront LionsDid you know… In 1895, a wooden toll bridge first connected St Augustine with Anastasia Island, and passengers were carried across it by a mule-drawn trolley. Modified in 1904 to carry the cars of an electric trolley line, it proved to be unattractive and insufficient for the rapidly increasing automobile traffic.

During the 1920’s, a new bridge stretching 1,538 feet was planned to provide a more efficient means to transit to the Davis Shores development. The modern bridge flanked by four towers opened in 1927 with a drawbridge to allow tall boats to pass through. Named the Bridge of Lions for the pair of Carrara marble Medici Lions statues that are copies of those found in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy. The statues were a gift 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 was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 19, 1982.

St Augustine Beach Pier

Did you know that the St. Johns County Ocean and Fishing Pier is now considered among the top third of attractions in the St. Augustine area on TripAdvisor, with a rating of 4.5 out of five stars. The gift shop is boasting record revenues generated from pier admissions, merchandise sales and rentals. That revenue, however may not be nearly enough to fund a new pier when the current pier nears the end of its lifespan.

Humble beginnings, A New Deal for St. Augustine
In the 1800s, Anastasia Island was called South Beach. From St. Augustine, beachgoers took a ferry over the Matanzas River at King Street, and then rode a donkey cart on dirt roads to the lighthouse. Later a wooden bridge was built and visitors took the South Beach Railroad from the bridge to the beach. The beach was always a popular recreational area, but it lacked a fishing pier. When Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal economic recovery program came about in the late 1930s, county leaders saw their opportunity. In 1937, they applied to the federal Works Progress Administration for funds to construct a recreation complex that would include a seawall, boardwalk and fishing pier, flanked by a pair of hotel buildings. St. Augustine Historical Society documents show the county received about $66,000 to construct a 1,344-foot pier and 840 feet of concrete seawall. The next year they asked for another $68,000 to construct two coquina rock buildings to house a life-saving station and recreational rooms. Susan Parker, executive director of the St. Augustine Historical Society, wrote in her article, “The St. Augustine Beach Hotel; A New Deal Project,” that these projects were “conceived as an impetus for beach development.”

augustine-pierCompleted in July 1939, the 1,300-foot wooden pier was believed to extend further into the ocean than any other pier along the Atlantic Coast. This boast was very short-lived, though. The first of many damaging tropical storms hit in October 1939, wiping out 500 feet of the pier and demolishing the rest room pavilion. Another 500 feet were heavily damaged. The county applied for WPA funds to rebuild the pier, adding a T-shape at the end. It had to be shortened to just 800 feet. During St. Augustine’s 375th anniversary celebration in 1940, they held a “gala opening” for the official St. Augustine Beach Recreation Project. All too soon World War II “dampened the leisurely, carefree character of the beach front complex,” Parker wrote.
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the Coast Guard controlled all access to the beach during WWII. Civil defense volunteers searched the sea for submarines and the skies for enemy airplanes. No one was allowed on Anastasia Island after dark without identification and those few allowed through had to drive with their headlights off. Turbulent times St. Augustine Beach was incorporated in 1959.old-pier The pier was holding its own until the fall of 1962 when a nor’easter rendered the original pier structurally unsound. The beach suffered terrible erosion.

In the summer of 1964, the beach around the pier made international news when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) held civil rights demonstrations, known as “swim-ins” or “wade-ins,” in an attempt to integrate all-white beach areas. Historians said this particular tactic was unique to St. Augustine Beach. old pier2In fall of 1964, Hurricane Dora, the first hurricane in 50 years to strike St. Augustine directly, tore off the end of the pier and sent waves crashing over the seawall into the coquina buildings. The pier stayed open for fishing but the beach erosion and the damaged buildings made the area unattractive to visitors. The hotel and restaurants closed. Erosion continued to threaten the seawall, especially during a northeaster in Feb. 1973. A nor’easter in 1978 took another piece off the end and caused extensive damage to the pilings. Concrete shields were placed around them, but they were damaged when Hurricane David blew through. A concrete-bolstered pier opened in 1984 to replace the wooden New Deal pier. It was now 1,000 feet long.

Recreation and renourishment The pavilion, which hosts concert and events, was built in 1998. After this, the era of sand renourishment officially began. Between 2001 and 2012, millions of yards of sand were added to the beach in three big installment projects, according to The Record archives. These projects were done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a 50-year commitment to keep the beach renourished. The pier was again rebuilt in 2002, with the help of a $17 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to restore the coastline. In 2011, the county approved $300,000 for repair work hoping to extend the life of the pier for another 10 years. Barring another hurricane or mean nor’easter, the pier as it appears as 2014 comes to a close this week, is how it is likely to stay until around 2021. Plain and simple.

St Augustine Wild Reserve

Java AngryThis week’s kwfallon.com blog features a “wildly” popular local attraction up near the World Golf Village, but you’re going to have to leave your golf clubs at home along with your cameras too!
If you haven’t been to the St Augustine Wild Reserve, I highly recommend you add it to your “to visit” list and visit with family and friends as we did on May 21st to celebrate my sister Marjorie’s 81st birthday. The Fallon Party were 12 strong including my great niece Sophia and my great great nephew Camron, who was a very good boy and loved all the “Big Cats” especially my personal favorite “Java” who’s featured in my blog today. I borrowed the following from the Reserve’s web page as it clearly states their Mission and a brief bio of the reserve’s founder, Deborah Warrick.
You can find out everything you need to know at: StAugustineWildReserve.org 
The St. Augustine Wild Reserve is a non-profit corporation created as a rescue center for unwanted exotic animals. Many individuals obtain an exotic pet, only to realize that the animal’s wild nature doesn’t fit into their life (or their household) as they expected. This is where we come in. The Reserve will take in unwanted exotic animals as an alternative to euthanasia. Some of the Reserve’s animals came from abusive homes. Two wolves were rescued when their owner was involved in a fatal auto accident. Many of our animals were confiscated by wildlife agencies from individuals who held these animals without proper state permits, or who starved their animals, maintaining them in inferior conditions. Five Arctic wolves and an African lion were received from Michael Jackson, who no longer wanted them at his ranch near Santa Barbara. The Founder of the Reserve, Deborah Warrick, has worked with exotic animals all of her life, having received extensive training at the Los Angeles Zoo. She has received her AA Degree, and B.S. Degree in Holistic Nutrition to better care for the animals’ nutritional needs. She earned her B.S. degree in Biology in 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
We do not allow photography at the Reserve, which we believe irritates some of the animals. We do, however, offer a photographic CD of all of the animals, available at the end of each tour. Our goal is to educate the public about exotic animal ownership, to prevent future animal abuse. We transport various animals to schools, churches, and other outreach venues for educational presentations so that individuals may see what these animals are really like, dissuading them from obtaining such an animal as a pet.

St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Styx ConcertThe St. Augustine Amphitheatre is rich in its history. As part of Anastasia State Park, it is comprised of 16 acres and includes an old quarry where coquina rock was mined to build early St. Augustine homes, commercial buildings, and the infamous Castillo de San Marcos fort. The Amphitheatre was built to commemorate St. Augustine’s 400th Anniversary as our nation’s oldest permanent European settlement in 1965. Following its completion, the play “The Cross & Sword”, written by Pulitzer-prize winner Dr. Paul Green, began its 32-year run on stage. In 1973, “The Cross & Sword” was designated “Florida’s Official State Play” by the State Legislature in recognition of the cultural and historic value of the production.


In 2002, St. Johns County decided to refurbish the Amphitheatre. Five years of construction turned the Amphitheatre into a state-of-the-art performing arts venue capable of holding up to 4,100 concert goers. The new facility includes a conference room, 4 concessions stands, a merchandise area, a large plaza, and an elaborate arboretum of walking.
In addition to the incredible shows by top performers held here, there are many free events for families to attend. One of the most popular of these is the Old City Farmers Market which takes place every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Here you will find offerings from some the the finest local organic farms, delicious baked goods, homemade sauces and jams, beautifully crafted hand-made jewelry, breathtaking artwork from local artists, a variety of plants, and more! For more information on the Amphitheatre, see StAugAmphitheatre.comFarmer's Market

Sunset Cruise Aboard the Schooner Freedom

Sunset Cruise Aboard the Schooner Freedom
Sunset Cruise Aboard the Schooner Freedom

A perfect Birthday gift from my lovely wife and partner Paula Fallon. We had all family hands on deck for a magnificent sunset cruise aboard The Schooner Freedom moored here in St. Augustine. We enjoyed a unique opportunity to sail the waters of St Augustine inlet from the Mantanzas River to north past Vilano up into the Tolomato River aboard a Class B tall ship. An authentic replica of a 19th-century blockade runner, Freedom is a double-mast, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner was built by naval architect Merritt Walters in 1982 in Norfolk, Virginia. The Freedom was the first sailing tour boat that was certified by the Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire.
Freedom was custom-built for use along the Intracoastal Waterway, with a focus on water depth and bridge height to make her perfect for both inland and offshore sailing. Classified as a Class B tall ship with a sparred length of 76 feet, a deck length of 64 feet, and a capacity of 41 passengers, the Schooner Freedom is regularly inspected under the Coast Guard sub-chapter “T” for safety and always sails with one master and two crew members.
A variety of wildlife can be seen on almost every sail — everything from gulls, pelicans, and even bald eagles to sea turtles and rays and, of course, to dolphins surfacing nearby. Guests are advised to bring along a jacket or sweatshirt, comfortable shoes, a camera and/or binoculars, sunscreen, and some snacks.
Set sail and schedule your trip today!

#AncientCityLifestyle