This St. Augustine museum includes exhibits related to medicine in the colonial period and the general history of the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821). The museum is located at the site of a colonial-era hospital that mirrors the history of Florida. The facility known as Hospital West was constructed in the First Spanish Period while Hospital East was constructed during the British Period. The site was later home to an apothecary within the William Watson House which was constructed in the British Period. While the original buildings no longer exist, the current building was constructed on the foundation of the former hospital facility. In addition to exhibits related to the history of medicine, the Spanish Military Hospital Museum has the only educational tour dedicated to the second Spanish period in St. Augustine.
Spanish Military Hospital Museum is an authentic reconstruction of a military
hospital that stood on this site during the Second Spanish Colonial Period
(1784–1821). The current reconstruction was built using archived Spanish
records in 1966.
hospital was originally a convalescent home by William Watson during
the British Occupation of the city from 1763-1783. Soon after the Spanish retook
possession of the town a fire destroyed the old hospital; Watson also left
Florida at this time. In 1971 the government purchased the home and modified it
for use as a military hospital.
Street was originally known as Hospital Street because the medical facility was
situated along the roadway. The medical clinic treated strictly military
personnel during St. Augustine’s Spanish and British Colonial periods.
original hospital complex consisted of three main structures and several
outbuildings. The West Wing, built during the First Spanish Period, burned down
in 1818. The British constructed the East Wing and Apothecary, but a fire
destroyed the East Wing in 1895. The hospital was closed two years after the
United States assumed control over Florida.
other buildings were constructed on the lot over time. While a modern building
still occupies the site of the West Wing, the building that replaced the East
Wing was torn down in 1960. Archaeological excavations uncovered the foundation
of the original hospital structure.
Museum includes an Apothecary and garden, period surgical procedures and
medical instruments, methods pharmacists used to create various medicines, the
development of medical practices that are still in use and rooms used such as
the administration office, patient wards, morgue and the mourning room. The
doctors would combine medical knowledge from Europe and Africa to achieve higher
survival rates. A bell would ring to summon mourners; this practice inspired
the phrase “For whom the bell tolls.”