The Countess Guest House
Imagine a bay front breeze on a shaded balcony and the sound of horses’ hooves as carriages pass below—such is the lifestyle at 15 Bridge Street. Located at the end of Charlotte Street behind the iconic red gate, this home is a reflection of the past, and a looking glass into the future.
The Gilded Age came to St. Augustine in the late 1800s via Henry Flagler and his grand railroad and magnificent hotels. An oil magnate and famous developer, Flagler popularized St. Augustine as a destination for the rich and fashionable to bask in the Florida sunshine. The Comtesse de Montjoye was among the crowd. A socialite and wife of a French nobleman, rumor has it that she asked Henry Flagler himself to sketch the plan for her home at 15 Bridge Street. The home was constructed in 1898 by renowned builder, S. Bangs Mance, who also constructed the Lyon Building on the corner of King and St. George Streets blocks away. With a Spanish Revival exterior and a pure Victorian interior, the home blends St. Augustine’s ancient past with its glorious renaissance.
Fully fitted for modern living, the home flows effortlessly from pedigreed past to current culture with the timeless luxury of good design, exquisite materials, and meticulous craftsmanship. Trimmed in period-correct detail—warm heart pine floors, cypress crown molding, beveled glass panel doors, and onyx inlaid fireplaces—the arrangement of rooms is well mannered for entertaining with contemporary sensibility to style and comfort. The balanced proportion gives equal opportunity to intimate interiors and open porches. The tucked away storage in the kitchen and curved woodwork are accents of a shipwright’s sensibility with efficiency and fluid use of space. Nothing is wasted and design is in every detail.
The bright kitchen features custom storage, a porcelain farm sink, a brick surround oven, and modern appliances with a period feel. From the kitchen the rest of the first floor reaches in two directions—the dining room, parlor, and music alcove one way, and the book lined library with a handmade staircase the other way. Ascend the stairs to three magnificent bedrooms and a claw-footed tub in the hall bath. The airy master suite encompasses a dressing room drenched in natural light, a full bath, and walk-in closet that is itself another room.
The parlor, dining room, and library are proportioned for entertaining, and open to the deep-set porch overlooking the secret garden with a canopy of tropical foliage. Upstairs the bedrooms open onto a sweeping balcony that gives vantage to horse drawn carriages and visitors exploring the streets, plus children’s voices from a nearby schoolyard.
Transcendence is the brand of this historic home, from past to present, open to enclosed, private to spilling into the festivals, art galleries, sidewalk cafes, live music venues, and shops of the Ancient City streets.
With over four-and-a-half centuries of European and African heritage, there is much to celebrate in St. Augustine. From the Easter Parade, Celtic Festival, Romanza Festivale, Fanfare and Fireworks, Beach Blast Off, and many music events, it is alive with culture, and 15 Bridge Street is at the pinnacle of the action.
Not only does St. Augustine boast the best schools in Florida, the city was ranked by Money Magazine as the best city in Florida in which to live. Forbes noted it as among the “top 10 prettiest towns.” CNN listed it as one of the “25 Best Places to Retire.” USA Today Travel cited it in the top 20 for Best Historic City. Smithsonian Magazine recognized it among the best small towns. National Geographic named it as a “must see” destination and one of the top ten paces in the world to see holiday lights. The legacy of the city lives on with each resident.
Pirates, re-enactors, and festivals spill into the streets in the downtown district, where history is at every corner with National Parks and landmarks, the Lightner Museum, the Colonial Quarter, and Flagler College.
Visual arts flourish too with a First Friday Art Walk that turns out the town. Additionally, the city hosts specialty exhibits like rare Picassos and the costumes of Downton Abbey.
The downtown district boasts over thirty restaurants serving specialty Minorcan dishes, Mayan and Hispanic fare, plus gourmet popsicles, local wine, and fresh caught wild shrimp from just offshore.
And there is music to accompany. From the classical St. Augustine Music Festival hosted at the Cathedral Basilica to the Gamble Rogers Festival to summer Concerts in the Plaza—in addition to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall—the city is a world stage for musicians, and a fostering ground for local talent.
At Christmastime, all of downtown twinkles in thousands of white lights, creating a fairyland promenade for shoppers and carolers and children.
Behind the red garden gate you have exclusive access to a Gilded Age gem whose value draws as much from its heritage as its comfort. Beyond the gate, everything St. Augustine has to offer is at your doorstep.