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St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Tucked away on a quiet street in the middle of Historic St. Augustine's residential quarter is a three story timbered building. At first glance, it blends into this area of beautiful historic homes, but if you venture into the courtyard, you'll notice that you've stumbled onto one of the city's most revered bed and breakfasts.

Now in its 3rd century of existence, the Inn holds two historical record in this very historic town: it's the oldest property that's currently being used as an inn, and it is the longest running lodging in St. Augustine.

With excellent customer service, a quiet location, and a purported ghost, the St. Francis Inn offers a gorgeous spot for anyone looking to create new memories in this old town.

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Built in 1791 by a Spanish soldier (who may or may not have been dipping into the coffers to pay for the house), the St. Francis Inn was a private home for the first few decades of its existence. In the 1800s, the Dummett family purchased it as a city home when they needed time away from their plantation.

By the 1840s, the house had passed to brothers in the Dummett family; they allowed their sister to stay, free of charge, in the house, but did not give her any other financial support. To help cover her bills, she began to take on boarders, and the Inn's long history of lodging began. In the 1880s, it became overflow housing for Henry Flagler's Ponce De Leon hotel, one of the poshest spots in its day.

As the inn changed hands, so too did its name. It was originally known as the Dummett-Garcia House (and is still called this on the National Historic Register), then as the Graham House. Finally, it was renamed the St. Francis Inn when it was bought in 1948, and the owners wanted a title that focused more on the area's geography and less on each individual owner.

The current owners, Margaret and Joe Finnegan, are celebrating their 30th year of running the St. Francis Inn, and still continue to reinvent what the Inn offers to its guests.

"Everyday at a bed and breakfast has the potential to be an adventure," Joe told me, so he, his wife, and their staff stay prepared for whatever might arise. When one of the innkeeping staff, Linda, was asked about her strangest experience, she mentioned the goose in diapers that has frequented the property, as well as the family of ferrets who make regular appearances each year. (As you might deduce, the Inn is very pet friendly--even to non-traditional pets!)

The St. Francis Inn is (as its name suggests) located on St. Francis Street--at the corner of St. Francis and St. George, to be more exact.

It's only about three blocks north to the pedestrian-only area of St. George and just a block to the waterfront. Everything that you'd want to see in St. Augustine is within an easy walk, yet, because the Inn is nestled among private houses, you'll escape most of the hustle and bustle you'll find on the larger streets.

Plus, if you're planning on riding the Old Town Trolley, stop #17 is just four houses down on St. Francis in front of the Gonzalez-Alvarez House.

I stayed on the 3rd floor in the Dummett Room. I loved stretching out in the queen bed while watching television each night before I went to bed. The large soaking tub (with jets!) was a great way to relax my sore muscles after I'd hiked all around St. Augustine each day.

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

The room also had a mini refrigerator, small closet (with fluffy robes!), and cream sherry each day.

For a single traveler or couple, the room would be fantastic. For those who want more room, or for larger families, the Inn offers a variety of sizes of rooms in the main building, the cottage, and the Wilson House. There are 17 rooms and suites at the St. Francis property, and another 5 at their sister property on St. Augustine Beach.

Know that there is no elevator on the property, so guests in wheelchairs or who have mobility issues will need to secure a room on the first floor of the Wilson House or in the cottage. The stairs are quite steep in the main house, so use caution as you're walking up and down to the 2nd and 3rd floors.

The day that I checked in, the desk staff was getting a workout with all of the guests coming in at once. Even though they were swamped, the ladies working the front desk remained calm, put-together, and polite to everyone.

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

When it was time for me to check in, Beverley walked me through the check-in process and then took me up three flights of stairs to my room. My stay was punctuated with personal touches like that.

Anytime I had questions, the staff was there to answer them. The Finnegans have worked hard to assemble their 14 staff members, and it shows!

For a smaller inn, the St. Francis has plenty to offer. Start the day with a home-cooked buffet breakfast: I was treated to a delicious quiche and strawberry soup one morning, and cheesy eggs and biscuits another. There's also fresh fruit, coffee, cinnamon rolls, apple and orange juice, and homemade granola.

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

Stop by throughout the day for coffee, ice tea, and fruit-infused water--and don't miss out on the afternoon cookies.

Then, in the afternoon, there's a cocktail hour in the courtyard where you can mix and mingle with the other guests if that's your thing.

If you want to get out of the city for the day, head over to the Inn's sister property at the beach, where you can use their chairs, umbrellas, and parking area.

The Inn also has a heated pool, Wi-fi, electric car charging stations, complimentary bikes, and off-street parking across from the main hotel.

And, if you're into the paranormal, you can count the Inn's supposed ghosts among its amenities! Lily, the resident ghost, as well as a male figure, have been seen throughout the hotel by guests. While most of the activity seems to concentrate on Lily's Room (on the 2nd floor) and on the 3rd floor, the innkeepers mentioned having strange experiences throughout the main building. I didn't have any out-of-the-ordinary experiences (I was actively trying to avoid them, actually, since I'm about the most scaredy cat person ever), but the inn has quite a few fans who come there in the hopes of learning more about Lily! (For more about the Inn's ghosts, see their website.)

Final Thoughts
Believe it or not, I've never stayed in a B&B on any of my travels before--but now, I feel completely spoiled since my experience at the St. Francis Inn was so wonderful. Although the historic district of St. Augustine has many small inns and bed and breakfasts, none other have the charm, history, and location that the St. Francis Inn has.

St. Francis Inn: Historic Accommodations in the Heart of St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

The next time you're in St. Augustine, book a room, and tell Joe that I sent you!

Have you been to St. Augustine? Do you like staying in B&Bs? Would the rumor of a ghost at an inn be awesome or terrifying for you?

Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary stay at the Inn in exchange for my honest opinions. 

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