ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A room at the top of the stairs in an old house held secrets that haven’t been told until now.
That house is part of the Ximenez -Fatio House Museum.
And those secrets deal with the Black history and the slave history of the site.
They're revealed in the newest tour at the museum in downtown St. Augustine.
They're not told by the white people impersonating those who ran the boarding house in the 1800s.
Instead, the tour is given by a man who embodies the lives of the Black enslaved or free men who used to live and work there.
James Bullock is the man who portrays those men. "It’s five costumes characters and five costume changes in roughly 45 minutes," he said.
This is completely new for the museum which had previously only told one part of the site’s history.
The inspiration for the tour came when a staff member casually mentioned to the manager, Roger Smith, something about a third floor.
"And I said, "'We have a third floor?'" And they said, 'Yeah, but it’s nasty, dusty and dirty. You don’t want to go up there.'"
So, of course, Smith went up there.
He learned that the attic or third floor is where slaves were kept or stayed in the 1800s.
"It’s not a group of people you normally hear about," he noted.
Smith, his co-manager, and the museum owners (the Colonial Dames of America) made a bold decision to restore the room as slave quarters and include it as part of the museum.
“It’s time for us to open up the whole history, the entirety of the house, and tell about the whole thing," Smith said.
And they brought in actor James Bulluck to guide visitors through history from a different perspective.
The tour is based on nine months of research. It's made possible by the Jessie Ball DuPont fund and the Florida Colonial Dames of America.
"If we forget or bury these stories," Bullock said, "we’re really robbing our future generations of knowing how hard we had to struggle to get here."