The slow and multi-phased process of restoring the floor and the stone in the Varela Chapel has gotten one step closer to completion.
Here you see the old mahogany altar on the new travertine floor. The original floor was this color and its builders referred to it as “coquina,” although it was probably a type of tabby, that is, blocks made out of concrete or mortar and crushed coquina. This type of block is now used mostly for outside paving, but it was used for flooring for buildings of this type in St Augustine. It was referred to as a terraplen floor, or earth-filled floor, and in this case it is set on a bed of sand. When it used inside, it could be softened with a carpet or rugs, and the contemporary accounts tell us that there was a “rich carpet” in the chapel to cover this surface.
The next step is replacing the crypt stone, which is still off for its restoration treatment. But in the meantime, you can see how much lighter and brighter the travertine – beautifully set by tile setter Joe Roddy, above, in what is called the “French pattern” of different size tiles – has made this space. Better yet, come and see it yourself, since we’ll be open this Saturday, July 19.