Fountain of Youth opens new exhibit


A new exhibit that highlights the history of St. Augustine’s colonial blacksmiths opened last weekend, offering a window into the city’s past.

Located at Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth, the new exhibit opened July 2 on the south side of the Menendez Settlement field. The open-floorplan exhibit features bellows in an oversized, “double lung” custom-made forge capable of generating blacksmithing temperatures of more than 2,500 degrees. The blacksmith shop will produce Spanish Colonial-style iron goods that were found in the area during the First Spanish Period of Florida’s history from 1565 to 1763.

The exhibit illustrates the history of St. Augustine’s colonial blacksmiths, who park Blacksmith Greg Sikes said were mainly responsible for repairing equipment.

“St. Augustine’s colonial blacksmiths were primarily repairmen,” Sikes said. “New goods arrived primarily from Europe, and when the implements broke, the blacksmiths stepped in.”

Fountain of Youth Managing Director John W. Fraser said the blacksmith exhibit will augment the park’s existing exhibits.

“We are excited to bring another interesting facet of St. Augustine’s past to the park,” Fraser said, “one where our guests can actually witness history being made right on the actual site where history was made in 1565.”

Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a 15-acre historic site that commemorates the Florida landing of Ponce de Leon in 1513 in his quest for the Fountain of Youth. It is also the original site of both the Timucuan Indian village of Seloy and Pedro Menendez de Aviles’ St. Augustine settlement of 1565.