Where History Lives: Casa de Suenos houses years of history

Where History Lives: Casa de Suenos houses years of history



For the past 13 years, Kathleen Hurley has dedicated her career to creating contemporary history at the Casa de Seunos Bed and Breakfast.

For a 110-year-old house turned B&B, it’s important to have updated amenities while keeping the property’s historical significance.

A part of the Flagler era

According to the Florida Master Site File, the property at 20 Cordova St. was originally built between 1904 and 1910 at the address of 12 Saragossa St.

It was a part of the Anderson Subdivision, or the southern half of the Model Land Company, which later developed into the Model Land Company Subdivision.

The Model Land Company was a development of Henry Flagler and according to the Flagler Museum online website it was this company that helped establish tourism and agriculture as Florida’s major industries.

Established in 1898, the Model Land Company owned more than 2 million acres of land stretching from north in Jacksonville to far south in Key West.

All of the buildings in the same location as what is today the Casa de Suenos B&B were originally designed as private residences although they have developed many different uses over the years.

The site file went on to say that that specific section of the Model Land Company Subdivision evolved from a tract of land that bordered the 18th century Rosario defense line that was “once owned by some of the city’s most prestigious colonial residents, including Jessie Fish, Miguel Iznardy, and Charles Gobert.

Also as stated in the site file, one of the building’s early residents was George A. Colee and his wife Virginia.

This couple and their family have been associated with the carriage and livery business since the 1880s when Louis A. Colee established the St. Augustine Transfer Company.

The file mentioned Verne E. Chatelaine as another resident. Chatelaine was listed as director of the St. Augustine Historical Survey.

Also noted was the building’s functioning as Garcia’s Funeral Home.

What it is today

While the building has been home for some and business for others, innkeeper Hurley names one family in specific that may have shaped the Mediterranean style building into what it is today.

Hurley said the property may have been owned by the Carcaba family in the ’20s.

“They came from, originally Cuba, and they wanted to live in a home that was more historic and they did a lot of the transformation of the house,” she said.

One example is the wide open bay front widow that sits in the dining room of the B&B as well as the Mediterranean style exterior of the building that the Casa de Suenos B&B boasts.

“They put a lot of things in it to make it more like what they were used to in Cuba,” she said.

The Carcaba’s were famous for the cigar factory they had in town at that time, Hurley added.

Before Hurley purchased it, it was noted as being operated under the auspices of the St. Augustine Association for Retarded Citizens in the 1970s.

Although the building is home to a lot of years of history, Hurley has managed to put her own spin on it to keep up with current times.

“My decorating style is a little bit more eclectic and contemporary,” she said.

Hurley spent 32 years in corporate American before becoming innkeeper at Casa de Suenos, also known as the House of Dreams, in St. Augustine.

For Hurley, it was a big change but she was up for the challenge.

“After 32 years in corporate, I decided I wanted to have a different lifestyle and a different opportunity and,” she said, “I also wanted to live southern.”

Hurley said she house hunted for just eight days and looked at 18 different inns for sale.

“Of all the places I looked at, I like this town and I like this bed and breakfast.”

So in 2001, Hurley purchased what is now Casa de Suenos.

She added updated furnishings and amenities to the historic home including things like whirlpool bathtubs and televisions in the rooms.

Other amenities the inn offers include free private parking for all guests and a great location.

Guests have a great view in one of the sitting rooms where they can look out and see the trolleys and horse-drawn carriages riding by.

Hurley said that in addition to all of the other things offered, Casa de Suenos is one of the only inns that allows for a single night stay.

“Because people have jobs, they have pets, they have elderly parents, they can’t get away for more than two nights,” she said.

Years from now

Hurley has a saying when it comes to looking toward her future.

“I’ve always said that when you wake up in the morning and you’re not happy with what you’re doing, it’s time to move on.”

So as for now, she doesn’t have set plans for retiring and walking away from the bed and breakfast.

In fact, Hurley says she’s very happy and loves St. Augustine.

A lot of history is in the bed and breakfast at 20 Cordova St. and Hurley says a lot of people love to stay there.

There’s a lot that guests can see and do in a very easy walking distance but it’s nice when they come back and call the B&B home, Hurley said.