These photos are from a quick visit to the Amphitheatre on Anastasia Island, close to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Anastasia State Park.
The Amp, as it’s commonly known, was built in 1965 for the primary purpose of presenting Paul Greene’s historical drama – Cross and Sword. The play was commissioned for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Augustine and tells the story of its establishment and early years.
When first opened, the Amp had room for 2000 patrons that sat on seats that had once been part of the New York City Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. The seats are technically from the fourth version of the Polo Grounds, which was closed and demolished in 1963.
The Amp was built on property that had been part of Anastasia State Park. It’s located in part of the old coquina rock quarry. This was where many tons of native shell rock had been quarried by hand – much of it by Indian and Black slaves. Coquina was used in the construction of the Castillo de San Marcos, the city walls and many of St. Augustine’s early buildings.
The play ran until 1996 when it closed due to decreased ticket sales, reduced funding by the state and a deteriorating Amphitheatre. In 2002, the Amp was renovated and it has since become a venue for concerts, plays and other shows. It’s an open-air theater and its stage is currently shaded by a large white fiberglass tent-like structure. It’s operated by the St. Johns County Parks & Recreation Department and it currently seats around 4000.