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Villa Zorayda

Villa Zorayda, FL

villazorayda.com
Villa Zorayda is a house at 83 King Street in St. Augustine, Florida. Built in 1883 by the eccentric Boston millionaire Franklin W. Smith as his winter … See more

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Dec 27, 2022
Love the Moroccan influence of the decor! Very pretty room (the harem room was the coolest)! We did an audio, self-guided tour-some of those narrators really need to learn how to pronounce certain … Full review by Centauress
Dec 20, 2022
If you enjoy antiques and history, this is a great place to visit! There are so many treasures to view. There is a audio self-guided tour to point out some of the more unique items in the museum. Tak… Full review by Melkee225
Sep 12, 2022
Out of everything we did in St. Augustine for the week we were there - this impressed me the most. This museum is exquisite with so much history, details and artifacts...it was a bit overwhelming! … Full review by lisaaE5746WH

Articles

Explore the Gilded Age in History
Explore the gilded age in history, an era of rapid economic growth in America. The Villa Zorayda is covered in Moorish style architecture. From the ceiling to the floor the architecture is the articulated western part of Arab world, and North Africa. The incredible setting puts you in a different time and place. Gorgeous artefacts reveal history and you will be told of tales waiting to be uncovered for generations. Closed for eight years the Villa Zorayda Museum had an extensive renovation before it was opened to the public. Franklin Smith utilized his method of construction of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell and built it like the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The building set precedence and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture, and in 1904 it became the Zorayda Club. Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artefacts bought the club and made it a fashionable place for casino gambling. In the mid 1930's it was opened as a museum featuring the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem which are still on display today. The villa contains luxurious interior details, includes tropical hardwood furniture and the "Sultans Den" which has a 2400 year-old rug made from woven ancient cat fur. Taken from a pyramid in Egypt it is said to possess a curse for anyone that walks on it. One of the more notable features of the building is the windows. Each window is a different shape and size because, according to superstition, with such windows the spirits could leave the house but would have trouble finding their way back in. Over the years, this unique building has been used a speakeasy. A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era 1920–1933. During that time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States. Speakeasies largely disappeared after Prohibition was ended in 1933, and the term is now used to describe some retro style bars.
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Priceless Antique Collections
The Villa Zorayda Museum has undergone an extensive renovation and is once again open to the public as a museum. On the National Register of Historic Places it was built in 1883 as the winter residence of Franklin Smith utilizing his method of construction of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell. It is built 1/10th the scale of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. This building set precedence for St. Augustine and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture that is seen throughout the city today. In 1913, it was purchased by Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artifacts. In the early 1900s, the Zorayda was leased out and turned into a club. In 1922, the Zorayda Club became one of the most fashionable places for casino gambling. In the mid 1930s, it opened as a museum featuring the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem which are still on display today. The 45 minute audio guided tour gives an in-depth look at the historical significance of the building to the City of St. Augustine, the magnificent architecture, and descriptions of the many exquisite antique pieces, which are original to the home. Please call 904-829-9887 for hours of operations and prices. Besides being a museum, we also hold wedding services and private parties. Wedding photos are located on our website; please email us at villazorayda@bellsouth.net for more information. During the Holiday Season, the museum opens its doors during the evenings. Our Candlelight Tours are on select dates. Please visit our website for more information about our Candlelight Tours. To visit Villa Zorayda Museum on your trip to St. Augustine, use our St. Augustine planner.
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