Franklin Waldo Smith was born in Boston, Massachusetts, October 9, 1826. Smith , the original owner and builder of the Villa Zorayda, was in many respects a renaissance man. He was a prominent architect that traveled widely in Spain. In 1892 he proposed to the US Government a National Gallery of History and Art to be located in Washington D.C.! and was a founder of the YMCA. One of his more notable efforts was the reproduction of the house of Pansa at Pompeii at Saratoga Springs New York.

Smith and his wife decided to maintain a winter residence in St. Augustine, and built the Villa Zorayda based on the Moorish architecture of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. To construct the building he used reinforced concrete mixed with coquina, a mix of shell fragments and quartz sand found in deposits around the city. He encouraged Henry Flagler to use Spanish architecture for his St. Augustine hotels and to use the poured concrete and coquina method of construction. In 1891 he built the Casa Monica Hotel in the Moorish Revival style to complement Flagler’s Ponce de Leon and Alcazar Hotels. Smith’s architectural design influenced William G. Warden of Standard Oil, who built the Castle Warden in the Moorish Revival style. An early preservationist, Smith recommended that future construction in St. Augustine conform to the city’s Spanish architectural heritage. Franklin Smith died in 1911.

If you’ve read, and remembered, Washington Irving’s “The Alhambra,” you’ll already know that Zorayda is one of the three princesses. If you would like to read or reread "The Alhambra" here is an "E Book "version.

Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on Franklin Smith.