Historical Tours of Flagler College
74 King Street, Saint Augustine, FL, USA
legacy.flagler.edu/Tours-sp8… - 904-823-3378
Historical Tours of Flagler College Saint Augustine Reviews
The Spectacular Hotel Ponce de Leon Mar 23, 2011
Henry Flagler, a developer and railroad magnate, came to St. Augustine on a vacation in 1883. He was impressed by the climate and saw the possibilities for developing the city into a winter resort. And develop he did! He created the Florida East Coast Railroad to bring vacationers down to Florida form the Northeast. But, they would need a place to stay. Flagler was determined that his resort hotel would outdo the other hotels then in St. Augustine. His vision was the opulent Hotel Ponce de Leon, opened in 1887. His former hotel became the core of Flagler College in 1960. Today, the hotel serves as college dormitory and dining space, but the public can see the grand hotel on a Flagler's Legacy Historical Tour of the property.
Flagler hired the best architects and interior designers he could find to build his hotel. Inspired by the Villa Zorayda across the street, architects Carrere and Hastings designed the influential Spanish Renaissance Revival main structure. Tiffany stained glass appears in the grand staircase and in the Dining Room. The structure was the first major American building to be constructed of poured concrete. (The concrete was mixed with local coquina shell.)
Tours are conducted by Flagler College students. They begin in the Rotunda, the main entrance to the hotel, supported by eight carved wooden pillars. The dome contains murals by George Maynard (who would later paint the murals in the Library of Congress' Great Hall). Next is the Grand Parlor, now the Flagler Room, with Tiffany ceilings and an onyx fireplace. The 800-seat Dining Room has to be the most opulent college dining room there ever was! It is the original hotel dining room, and the stained glass and furniture are intact.
Along the way, visitors learn about the construction and decoration of the hotel and of its guests. Guests were expected to stay for the winter season, and so were charged for three months regardless of whether or not they actually stayed the full term. The hotel rooms are dorm rooms today.
Hotel Ponce de Leon is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Admission is $7 and photography is permitted.
Part of the Spring in the Southeast 2011 travel blog
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