DOW Museum of Historic Homes

** update: The Dow Museum has, unfortunately, closed. **

I thought I’d just run in to the Dow Museum of Historic Homes to gather info for a piece I was writing for Compass Magazine.  Instead, I was drawn into a magical collection of old homes and an afternoon of fun discovery with my children!

A map will direct you around the property and ensure you don’t miss a home!

The Dow Museum is a collection of 9 historic homes dating from 1790 to 1910.  Kenneth Dow purchased and donated these homes- thus the name of the museum.  I’m not sure what I expected {besides boring}, but via my camera lens, I enjoyed this time-worn history collage through my children’s eyes and was enchanted!

This knocker is part Narnia, part Labyrinth. It was too high for the kids to reach, but they insisted I knock before we entered!
“Can we climb on the steps, Mom?” ABSOLUTELY!

Inside each home, we maintained the normal look but don’t touch museum rule.  Between each home, however, there was plenty of room to run, climb and explore.  And while we enjoyed walking through the homes, exploring the nooks & crannies of the gardens was certainly what made our time there special.

Look! A Georgia Anne ghost peeking through the window!
Playing in the courtyard fountains was definitely Clara’s favorite pastime at the Dow.

There were windows to peek through, fountains to wish upon and fish to feed…

The fish food dispenser is appropriately placed in the “Jesse Fish Tavern”- named after notorious St. Augustine resident from the early British period of St. Augustine.  When the British arrived, most locals {loyal to the Spanish crown} had already packed up and moved to Cuba.  Jesse Fish promised St. Augustine residents that he would sell their property to the new British residents and send the money… you can imagine how that went…

Our favorite home was fully furnished.  {Don’t worry, he’s just pretending to touch for the photo.} It was fun envisioning a family of 8 surrounding the gracious dining table, laughing about a large family sharing 1 bathroom and exploring a turn-of-the-century kitchen.

The furnished Dow house is my favorite.
Clara looks like the prettiest little ghost ever in this vintage mirror.

The Dow Museum is an aging collection of homes.  Minimal maintenance is attended to but there are no funds for restoration.  The property is for sale- a foundation was established for a Children’s Museum… but they weren’t able to raise enough money to secure the property.  It would’ve been a magical location for kids to explore!

Dow Childrens Museum St Augustine
Coffee Table sized books cover art, architecture and history of the period.

I highly recommend visiting this site- a full city block of homes open to the public is unheard of!  And the chance to spend time taking in the gardens and appreciating architecture may be eroding much like the Prince Murat home… visit while you can.

Dow Museum of Historic Homes
149 Cordova Street
M-Sat 10:00 – 5:00, Sundays 11:00 – 5:00
Adults $8.95, Students $6.95, children 5 & under free
St. Augustine residents may visit free the 1st Monday of each month!

** update: The Dow Museum has, unfortunately, closed. **


  1. Laura says

    All the talk about the Dow Museum of Homes had me curious about it, so thanks for your blog! I will have to check it out the next time I am there. Not sure how I have missed it up til now! Just one of those magical things about St Augustine, never know what you will find! I saw some lovely little ghosties in your pics, but they look friendly enough! I love it when your kids are part of the exploration!

  2. Louise says

    That has always been one of my favorite places and recommendations to visitors. It is a peaceful place to spend time by yourself.

  3. renee says

    This is an amazing spot for family photos as well. Thanks for the reminder to take the girls to explore it again!!!

  4. says

    I saw this soewhere and had NO IDEA what it was or what they were talking about. Well now I do and will have to check it out.

  5. says

    I saw this soewhere and had NO IDEA what it was or what they were talking about. Well now I do and will have to check it out.

  6. Sharon says

    What a shame! So much history there! I’ve been to SA numerous times and had no idea this was available. Can’t someone do a fund-raiser, trust, or SOMETHING to preserve the precious homes?

    • says

      The Children’s Museum tried to buy the property {ended up purchasing in another location}… so I know efforts have been made. It would be fabulous to see these properties saved!

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