Saint-Augustin Surf Museum documents over 100 years of history

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The mission of the St. Augustine Historical Society is to preserve the historic past of this historic city. Its archives are filled with documents, photos and maps dating from the founding of the city in 1565. But the goal of the organization is more than to archive documents – it also collects and presents the history of St. Augustine to the public.

“In 2017, the staff and I were tasked with coming up with ideas to attract an audience who otherwise might not be interested in history or the historical society,” said Magen Wilson, executive director of St. Augustine Historical Society, “and then after reading a 1915 article in the St. Augustine Evening Record that talked about surfing in St. Augustine, we thought, well, we have over a century of surfing history. here, and it’s really cool. So we started doing oral history interviews with people who had surfed in the 60s and 70s. “

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Ultimately, the company collected more than 70 interviews.

This spring, the St. Augustine Surf Culture and History Museum opened on the first floor of the historic Tovar House on the grounds of the Oldest House Museum Complex on St. Francis.

A community project

“We have seen this community project evolve into what we have now: the museum. Wilson said. “And it really is a community museum.”

Filled with surfboards, memorabilia, photographs and exhibits, the museum tells the story of surfing in Saint-Augustin.

Mounted on the wall of the museum’s first room is a one-piece swimsuit sold by the HW Davis Company store on St. George Street in 1924 with the advertisement asking women and girls, “Do you want an eye-catching bath?” and fitted that attracts attention? Suit?”

The St. Augustine Historical Society's new Museum of St. Augustine Surf Culture and History features displays of surfboards made by locals.

Another exhibit includes a display from a 1918 edition of the St. Augustine Evening Record on Irvine “Driz” Drysdale, a star high school athlete who was seen surfing a battleship “Patriotic Surf Board” painted gray with red, white and blue stripes. .

The following piece features a quilt made by the mother of Hugh Shaw, a Flagler College student and avid surf enthusiast who died in a car crash in 1983. Since 1985, the college has held a surf contest in memory of Shaw, and the quilt is made from T-shirts given to participants.

Another part of the museum features surfboards made and shaped by local surfers.

St. Augustine Surf Culture Archives

In conjunction with the museum, the company maintains the St. Augustine Surf Culture Archives and Digital Archives, which contain thousands of surf photos, oral histories and articles on the local surf scene, many of which may can be found at saintaugustinehistoricalsociety.org.

“Oral histories give a full understanding of the surf life here,” Wilson said. “We talked to people in their 70s and 80s, up to people in their 20s and 30s.”

Tory Strange, owner of the Surf Station in St. Augustine, has been surfing here since 1968 and is featured in the museum.

“Surfing is such a big part of St. Augustine. People have been riding the waves here for over 100 years,” Strange said. “It’s important that this be recorded. The beach is a fun story. The people surfing in this town are part of what makes this place so special. The museum is another chapter in St. Augustine history that goes back to so many years. “

The oldest house is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours run every half hour and admission is free for residents of St. Johns County.

The museum is located across from the National Guard at 14 St. Francis St. in St. Augustine.

For more information, call 904-824-2872.


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