Friends, if you’ve been eagerly anticipating another road trip through the Southern United States, we’ve got one more for you. This time, we’ll be traveling through the Coastal South to three different locations between two states.
To make your trip even better, we included some suggestions for you when you’re visiting; site tour options, events, things to do nearby, and local restaurants. We hope it’ll make for a smooth-sailin’, special experience.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Ximenez-Fatio House Museum – Saint Augustine, Florida
- Dorr House – Pensacola, Florida
- Neill-Cochran House Museum – Austin, Texas
Ximenez-Fatio House Museum
Saint Augustine, FL
To begin, we’ll pay a visit to Saint Augustine. This city was founded in September 1565 by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles of Spain. It is known as the longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the U.S. But several thousand years before colonial settlers established Saint Augustine as a city, it was inhabited by the Timucua tribe. Evidence of their rich lives is easily found archaeologically, throughout Saint Augustine.
Visit that culture at the unique Ximenez-Fatio House Museum. Everything from a 17th-century Spanish cross to pre-Columbian ceramics were unearthed here. Although the house alone also has a broad and far-reaching history, as it served as a family home, a place of business, and a place of refuge for possibly thousands of people. A merchant named Don Andres Ximenez built this three-story home in 1798 for he and his bride, Juana Pellicer. It was built out of coquina, “a stone which is seemingly a pure concretion of small shells,” as Poet William Cullen Bryant noted. The home had bedrooms and a living area, a grocery store, space for a billiard hall and a small tavern area, servants’/enslaved persons’ quarters, and storage areas all under one roof.
Sadly, between 1802 and 1806, the Ximenez perished due to yellow fever. The home was then maintained by the Pellicer family until 1830. From then on, the property was owned by a series of women – the most notable being Louisa Fatio. This was a rarity at the time, but it made such a difference in Florida’s future. These women are to thank for their handiwork and determination in helping launch Florida’s booming tourism industry.
The Ximenez-Fatio House has a detached kitchen with a beehive oven, which is where the enslaved persons prepared food for the residents and guests. They lived on the third floor of the home, above the private bedrooms and living area on the second floor. It wasn’t until recently that researchers found that there were servants on the property, so their stories went unheard for years. You’ll get to hear how people sharing one roof experienced very different lives.
Other attractions at Ximenez-Fatio House:
Take a 45-minute tour of Ximenez-Fatio House:
- Monday – Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (option of a guided tour led by a historical interpreter or a self-guided tour audio tour in English or Spanish)
But that’s not all! There are some other wonderful tours offered here too, including:
- I Lived Here, As Well
- Holiday Candlelight Tours
- A Night Among Ghosts at The Ximenez-Fatio House Museum
Things to Do Nearby:
Places to Eat:
Let’s head down to Pensacola, Florida, for our next stop on this road trip! Many know Pensacola for its beaches’ sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters, but you may not know how equally colorful the city’s history is. Before Spanish explorers or European settlers made their way to this lovely city, multiple Native American tribes inhabited the land. In 1559, it became the first European settlement in the continental United States. The possession of this city has changed numerous times, but since the Civil War ended in the U.S., Pensacola has been part of our nation.
In addition to this raging bloody war, the people of Florida and the rest of America had to cope with typical life changes as well. A woman named Clara Dorr had sadly lost her husband, Eben Walker Dorr. Six years after the Civil War finally ended, Clara had a beautiful home built for her and her children in the oldest part of the city. As you head up to the Dorr House, you’ll notice there’s much to admire, from the home’s architecture to its outstanding location. Take a moment just to absorb this piece of historical heaven!
This Greek Revival home faces Seville Square with its yellow facade and stacked porches. Thanks to Clara’s clever design choices, you’re sure to feel a welcoming, cool breeze as you come up to the front door. She wanted to help her family and guests beat the Florida heat from the comfort of their homes. Walking through the Dorr House, you’ll see incredible rooms, perfect for entertaining (and impressing) guests, such as the parlor. Natural light cascades in through the large windows throughout the home, shining down on the elegant furnishings and family heirlooms. The color scheme and architecture of Dorr House offered a nice contrast to the popular Gothic Revival and Victorian-style homes of the time.
Other Dorr House attractions:
Take a half-hour-long tour of Dorr House:
- 1 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Things to Do Nearby:
- Pensacola Museum of History, at the University of West Florida
- Chappie James Museum of Pensacola
- Museum of Commerce
Places to Eat:
Neill-Cochran House Museum
Our final stop on this amazing Southern Reflections road trip takes us to the heart of Austin, Texas. Long before Austin came to be the city we know today, it was a small, yet thriving place situated along the Colorado River. It was originally inhabited by the Comanches, Tonkawas, and Lipan Apaches tribes. But eventually, in the 1830s, the first permanent Anglo settlers would arrive and name this village Waterloo. Waterloo was quickly chosen to be the capital of Texas, and would be named after Stephen F. Austin, “the father of Texas.” Austin’s first mayor Judge Edwin Waller was responsible for creating much of the city’s street plan – a majority of which has survived largely intact to this day.
We’d like to take you down Guadalupe Street (also known as The Drag), about 10 minutes away from The University of Texas at Austin. You’ll come across a large white mansion with tall pillars supporting the building. This is known as the Neill-Cochran House Museum. The house was named after the two families who owned the property.
The Hill family designed the mansion to be serviced through slave labor. While you’re at the museum, you can see the slave quarters on the estate. It’s the only structure of its kind that remains standing in Austin today. However, after their efforts to finance this project, including the purchase of five enslaved people, they couldn’t afford the home. So the Hills never actually got to live here. But the mansion would eventually be used as a rental property, where several historic figures stayed there. Colonel George A. Custer requisitioned the estate from Lieutenant Governor Fletcher Stockdale in 1865. It was then used as a quarantine station for soldiers suffering from yellow fever and cholera.
As you go through the mansion, you’ll notice original walnut furniture, which was chosen by the Neill family. The Austin socialites bought the house in 1876 and hosted many extravagant parties here. While you’re led through the rooms, you can imagine gliding through the halls to the best music of the time.
In the early 1890s, Thomas Cochran bought the property for himself and his family. Four generations of their family would live there for 65 years. You’ll learn that this mansion saw joyous occasions like births and weddings, but it saw some very solemn periods, such as family deaths, World War I and II, and the Great Depression as well. It also served as a safe haven for many. The Cochrans made many memories living here, and their original furnishings are on display to help paint the picture for all.
Other attractions at the Neill-Cochran House Museum:
Take an hour-long tour of Neill-Cochran House Museum:
- Wednesday – Sunday, 11 AM – 4 PM, Tours at 12 PM, 1 PM, & 2 PM
- $8/General, $6/Seniors, $6/Students with ID, Free for members and children under 12
- Group tours – $5 per person, $75 minimum
Things to Do Nearby:
Places to Eat:
Continue Adventuring Outside of the South
Cruising Through the Coastal South, we visit sites that tell the story of trying times, endearing family moments, groundbreaking history, and more!
If you’re embarking on your journey in the Coastal South, head out to the deep south to see deep cuts from American history! You’ll find an itinerary jam-packed with sites that’ll bring you to a bird lover’s paradise, the 18th-century French Quarter, and so many other places. See y’all down yonder!