Welcome to Dental Doctors of Florida and to the Welch House, a Flagler era home that was built over 100 years ago. After reinstating the variance by the city of St. Augustine to continue a professional office in this residence, the doors were reopened for the treatment of dental patients on June 18, 2015.
The house located at 72 Valencia Street has undergone a number of changes since it was completed in 1895. The section of the Model Land Company subdivision on which the house sets was marshland until Henry Flagler reclaimed the land in the mid-1880s in order to expand his land holdings to the East. Mr. Flagler named the streets after cities in Spain to reflect the Spanish heritage of the city.
The remnants of the passenger railway terminal can still be seen at the western end of Valencia Street. A city fire station now occupies the site of the terminal. The first construction in this development included the steam laundry for the Ponce de Leon Hotel, a park, baseball field, a smaller hotel and tract housing for the employees of Flagler’s enterprises. True residential development of the area did not commence until Flagler conveyed title of the property to the Model Land Company in 1903. Most of the residences were built for employees of the newly constructed railroad offices.
The dwelling at 72 Valencia was one of four built of similar style and size for employees of Flagler’s railroad. Two others remain and are located directly east of this residence. The first known resident of the house at 72 Valencia was James W. Welch, Assistant Supervisor of Bridges. Later it was occupied by C.G. Wakely, Superintendent of Florida East Coast Railway, and then by F.M. Clark who had been Chief of the Railroad’s auditing department. Dr. McFie, now retired, had made the home both his residence and chiropractic practice from 1979–1996. Dr. Sindad, now retired, opened the doors for dental patients for the next 20 years. In June 2015, Dental Doctors of Florida reestablished the dental practice and continues the legacy and honor of maintaining this piece of St. Augustine.
The original plan for the building was to create a modern dental treatment facility while maintaining as much of the original look and feel of the era as possible. There were some alterations to the building that made it impossible to salvage some original features. All of the trim around the windows and baseboards had been removed, and large holes were knocked in the plaster walls during the electrical upgrading to commercial code years ago. It was necessary to place new dry wall and trim to simulate the original. During the removal of paneling, which covered the walls, an original fireplace was discovered. The drop ceiling was returned to the original ceiling height. After removing carpet, the beautiful floors were restored. The yellow pine floor in the reception room does not match the darker heart pine of the other wood floors because this area was part of the front porch and enclosed years ago to extend the living space. If you walk along the front sidewalk, you will see another entry from the street. This indicates that prior to automobiles there was probably a circular drive to accommodate horse carriages.
Both the residence and the business portions of the Welch House are works in progress. It is Dental Doctors of Florida’s goal to completely renovate this building and hopefully preserve another small piece of the Flagler era architecture in St. Augustine.
Dental Doctors of Florida is a family friendly dental practice. We treat all ages and cater to cowards. We are currently open Monday through Thursday, 8-5. Please, come by and meet us. We will have a comfortable chair waiting for you. Welcome home.