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The History
The History

Nine historic homes,
nine unique stories

The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens is located on the site of the former Dow Museum of Historic Houses, a one-acre garden oasis comprising nine historic homes dating from 1790 to 1910. Spanning a city block in downtown St. Augustine, this storied site has been an integral part of the city’s history, serving as a 16th century hospital and cemetery, an 18th century Spanish defense line and setting for the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation reading that freed Florida’s slave population.

Kenneth Worcester Dow purchased the oldest house on the block, the 1790 Prince Murat House, in the 1930s and, by the early 1950s, had acquired all nine homes on the site. Dow, a passionate collector of artwork, furniture and other antiques, donated his entire collection to the Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1989. Following an 11-year restoration, the Dow Museum of Historic Houses opened in 2000, showcasing his extensive collection.

Nine historic homes,<br> nine unique stories
Spanning a city block in downtown St. Augustine, this storied site has been an integral part of the city's history.

Built in 1899 by local dry good merchant Emanuel de Medici, the Star Building was first a general store and later served as a residence, kindergarten, toy story and millinery. Today, it serves as the inn’s gracious entrance lobby.

The third oldest structure on the site, the Canova House was built by Antonio Canova, a Minorcan, in 1840. Canova also built the Dow House in 1839. Mr. Dow purchased the house in 1941 from St. Augustine’s oldest living resident, Sarah McKinnon, who was 98, who continued to live there until her death at 103.

The Murat House is one of the oldest surviving Colonial buildings in St. Augustine. It was built in 1790 by Antonio Huertas and now bears the name of its most famous occupant, Prince Achille Murat, a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Howells House is a large Colonial Revival home dating to 1909. It is named after William Dean Howells, the famous American author and editor, who wintered there in 1916 and 1917 and welcomed visitors Mark Twain and Sinclair Lewis.

Built in 1907, the Rose House is named after Jean Gordon, an authority on roses who rented the home from Mr. Dow for ten years, beginning in 1956. She operated a rose museum there and wrote many books about roses.

The Spear House was built in 1899, originally to house carriages. In 1900, John Henry, a bookkeeper to Henry Flagler, purchased it and added a second story. He later converted it into a rooming house. Most recently, it was used as an art gallery.

In 1906, Henry built Worcester House for his new bride. An example of the Richardson Romanesque style popular around the turn of the century, it featured a large porch and balcony, which was removed by Mr. Dow in 1949. It has now been fully restored.

Built around 1915, The Well once served as a garage for Howells House. It was renovated in 1989 and became a venue for events, operating as the Jesse Fish Tavern. The name is a nod to the notorious Jesse Fish, who made history as a merchant, schemer and scalawag.

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