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Reconstructing San Luis

Mission San Luis features reconstructed buildings that were built according to the remains discovered during archaeological excavations. Archaeological remains were sufficiently exposed and sectioned to gather necessary data. These were subsequently capped with clean fill and protected prior to reconstruction. These buildings show construction techniques and help to instill a sense of the size, look, and feel of the village that was here 300 years ago.

Franciscan Church

The size and proportional system of the church at Mission San Luis was identical to its counterpart in St. Augustine. The most challenging aspect of the excavation and reconstruction of the church was avoiding any damage to the cemetery located beneath the church’s floor. An estimated 900 mission residents are buried there.

Spanish House

The pueblo or Hispanic residential area reflected the European practice of fixed, orderly communities. It consisted of at least fifty homes, along with numerous outbuildings, corrals, activity areas, and trash pits. Artifacts recovered from Spanish households have illuminated the trade patterns of its residents who exported locally produced agricultural goods in exchange for imports from Mexico, Europe, and Asia. While multiple homes have been discovered, currently only one is reconstructed.

Mission Friary

Friary Complex

This complex consisted of a friary that was divided into public and private spaces. Since the friars took vows of poverty, very few personal possessions were recovered from this structure. A detached kitchen connected to the friary by a covered walkway is included in the complex.

Castillo de San Luis

The final and largest blockhouse at Mission San Luis was completed in 1697. A palisade and moat were added in 1702 in response to British incursions into Spanish Florida. The 70 feet by 40 feet blockhouse probably garrisoned about 45 soldiers near the end of the Mission Era. There was evidence of internal rooms within the blockhouse and a probable stairway leading to a second story, reflecting the "high and low quarters" mentioned in historic documents.

Council House

The council house served as the city hall, ceremonial center, and lodge for the more than 1500 Apalachee residents at Mission San Luis. Archaeology and reconstruction revealed the Apalachees’ sophisticated knowledge of geometry and their retention of native architectural and material traditions. At 120 feet in diameter, five stories high, and using rafters measuring 72 feet long and weighing more than 1,000 pounds each, the reconstruction of the Apalachee council house required lumber from out of state and the largest crane available in Florida at the time. Today, the palm thatch covering is simulated with synthetic thatching.