Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park is a privately owned 15-acre (61,000 m2) park in St. Augustine, Florida, located along Hospital Creek, part of the Intracoastal Waterway. It is touted as being the likely 1513 Florida landing site of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, although recent research by amateur historian Douglas Peck has placed another possible landing site in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral in Brevard County. The park contains a freshwater spring that is claimed to be the freshwater source referred to by Ponce de Leon in Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas' Historia General.
Beginning in the 1860s, there were a series of small attractions on the grounds of the present-day Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. These attractions showcased a spring and the attractive grounds surrounding it. The attraction was enlarged by Luella Day McConnell in 1904. "Diamond Lil", as she was known, fabricated stories to amuse and appall the city’s residents and tourists until her accidental death in 1927.
The Park was purchased in 1927 by Walter B. Fraser, a Georgia resident who soon relocated to St. Augustine, Florida and became active in local politics. During the 1930s Fraser organized St. Augustine’s first formal restoration movement, which was the forerunner of the preservation program which eventually became the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board.
From 1933-1943 Fraser served on the City Commission, the last seven of those years as mayor. During that time he purchased the Oldest Orange Grove and the Oldest School House. He built WFOY radio and purchased the Markland estate adjacent to the Ponce de Leon Hotel, and served in the Florida Senate from 1944-1948.
Author Charlie Carlson claims to have spoken with a supposed St. Augustine-based secret society claiming to be the protectors of the Fountain of Youth, which has granted them extraordinary longevity. They claimed Old John Gomez, a protagonist in the Gasparilla legend from Florida folklore, had been one of their members.
- St. Augustine and St. Johns County: A Historical Guide By William R. Adams p. 73
- Cape Canaveral By Ray Osborne p. 12
- Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y tierra firme del Mar oceano
- Great Floridians 2000 Program-St. Augustine/Dr. Luella Day McConnell
- Carlson, Charlie (April 7, 2005). Weird Florida. New York. ISBN 0-7607-5945-6.
- Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park - official site