St. Augustine, FL: Maria Sanchez Creek and Lake

Maria Sanchez Creek as it used to look in the early days of St. Augustine.

In the early history of St. Augustine, Maria Sanchez Creek ran deep into the current downtown section of the city. Over the years, its farthest reaches were filled in up to the area where Flagler College now sits.

Then in the 1880’s, Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler came to town with big ideas of building state-of-the art hotels. But to place his his buildings where he wanted them located, he needed more of Maria Sanchez Creek and its marshes made into dry land.

In cooperation with the City of St. Augustine, and local land developer Heth Canfield, old Henry finally got  his way. Canfield and his crews went to work and filled in the creek from King street to Bridge Street. Bridge Street got its name because it used to cross the Maria Sanchez Creek.

Maria Sanchez Lake looking south

Flagler then put his magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel (Flagler College today) on the north side of King Street and the Alacazar (St. Augustine City Hall and the Lightner Museum today) on the south side.

Eventually, the City of St.Augustine placed a dam at South Street as a flood control measure which created the present day Maria Sanchez Lake.  What’s left of the creek still flows southward and eventually merges with the Matanzas River.

For a photo gallery of this region of St. Augustine, click here.

Click here for a map of St. Augustine. Find King Street where it meets Cordova Street. Follow Cordova south until you get to Maria Sanchez Creek.