Weeks of cleaning, planning and training are over and Tolomato opened its gates to the public on Saturday, Nov. 20th. It was a triumphant opening. In the space of 4 hours, TCPA docents and other volunteers greeted 365 visitors and received innumerable enthusiastic comments and even some unanswerable questions.
Docent led tours were offered, along with self-guided tours based on a map of the cemetery. In the photo below, a tour starts out from the Varela Chapel with docent Elizabeth Gessner while docent Lin Masley prepares for more visitors.
The self-guided tours focused on the same locations, but used a map and numbered stakes stuck in the ground. There were ten stops on the tour, which was arranged chronologically, following Tolomato from its days as an Indian village through its different 18th and 19th century phases. In this photo, look for the number “7” stuck in the ground in front of the Benet-Baya monument.
The docent led-tour provided visitors with more in-depth information. It also left us with questions on which we need to do more research, as well as indications of people’s interest in particular aspects of the cemetery that we had not taken into consideration sufficiently – such as its connection with the figures immortalized by Eugenia Price’s novel Maria. Below we see docent Nick McAuliffe, besieged by visitor questions.
We hope to open every third Saturday of the month, and will announce it in advance. For a good report on the opening, click to read the St. Augustine Record for November 22. In the meantime, see the happy visitors searching for their no longer forgotten St. Augustine historical forebears.