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Meet the Architect of many Spanish Missions in Georgia & Florida

Fray Andrés de San Miguel, a lay brother in a Franciscan monastery in Pueblo, Mexico, created some of Mexico City’s most famous early 17th century structures, designed most of the Franciscan missions in Georgia and Florida during that period, plus engineered the drainage system that made possible the continued existence of Mexico City. All of this happened because of a shipwreck, when he was 18, along the coast of the future state of Georgia.

His memoir, which describes the ship wreck, also provides detailed information about the Wahale (Guale) Indians in the years immediately prior to the construction of the first mission to the Wahale on St. Catherines Island. His designs for the mission buildings reflected a pragmatic blend of Franciscan and Muskogean architectural traditions. This is probably because of Andrés de San Miguel’s stay with these people. Several of his buildings in Mexico City, however, reflect the Moorish traditions of Southern Spain, where he grew up.  Read more

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

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