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Castillo de San Marcos

by George Murphy on May 11, 2011

Castillo de San Marco

The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It is made from a greyish coquina stone, composed of seashell material that has fused together to create a substance similar to limestone. After several earlier wooden forts proved insufficient to defend the area, the fort’s Spanish builders begun construction of the structure in 1672, taking twenty-three years to complete it*. Even though it was Built by the Spanish, the British flag flew over the fort for a period of about twenty years in the 1700’s, before the area finally became a U.S. territory.

I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida–not far from St. Augustine–and made frequent trips to the area when I was a child. On my visits, I could not help but be exposed to the Castillo de San Marcos’ rich and extended history. Having experienced on those trips, so many historical reenactments over the years, the place had developed a fond mystique; yes–despite what I’m sure were many tragic events caused by and experienced by it’s occupants (Come on…it’s a BIG fort and I was a young boy. Nuf said!). Anyhow, I had a chance to visit the fort recently and I wanted to reflect some of that historical depth and complexity in my photograph of it. The afternoon lighting wasn’t much to shout about against a boringly empty sky, though it did reveal the coquina texture from this angle and set off the iconic corner tower. Plus there was that strong offshore breeze that held up the flag quite nicely; but I wanted something more. So, I experimented with blending in additional textures that would subdue the “matter-of-fact” feel of my original straight photograph. The resulting image is much closer to the weighty sense of time and events that I see in my mind’s eye when I think about the fort now.


*Wikepedia reference:


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