Happy 125th Birthday Hotel Ponce de Leon Hotel
Built by Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil Company, the hotel was opened in 1888 with Louis Comfort Tiffany as the hotel's decorator, Thomas Edison's most ingenious device of direct current dynamos providing electricity, therefore lights, and running water throughout the massive structure.
The elegant hotel was decorated with imported marble, carved wood, monumental sized vases and furniture, paintings in ornate frames, oriental carpets and tiled floors throughout.Cover of El Escribano -2012
Normally I wouldn't enter this publication from The St. Augustine Historical Society (SAHS)but this yearly edition is special in that it's devoted entirely to the Henry Flagler, the hotel with one article about Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church built by Flagler. Flagler, his first wife, Mary Harkness, daughter, Jennie Louise and her infant, are in a mausoleum in the church along with Flagler, of course. He died in Palm Beach but he wanted to be buried in St. Augustine where he began his successful second career in developing Florida.
The yearly publication El Escribano began distribution as a newsletter for members of the society and this year it is 58 years old. For more information on the SAHS, the link is below.
With the 125th year celebrating the final construction and opening of the grandest hotel in the south, this edition has four articles devoted to the hotel and one article on Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The articles are as follows: Opening Season for the Hotel Ponce de Leon; Fine Dining in St. Augustine; Souvenirs of the Ponce de Leon Hotel; and Flagler-Era Stage Entertainments.
Since I collect St. Augustine memorabilia, including postcards dating from the 1900 to 1930's and beyond, I thought I would include a picture of my "hotel fan" as described below. A picture does not do it justice; it's so bright and colorful and I love it. It's pretty rare, too, another reason it's my favorite piece. And also, it was in the book. My paper fan (opens to 25" X 13 1/2") and left to right, alligator, San Marco Hotel (wooden structure burned in 1897), Hotel Ponce de Leon, Casa Monica (renamed Cordova), Alcazar and Castillo de San Marcos
While taking these pictures yesterday, I picked up a brochure with some interesting facts:Artistic oak woodwork by Pottier and Stymus of New York
Architectural Terra Cotta by Perth Amboy, Terra Cotta Company
Hydraulic elevators Otis Elevators (powered by turbine water-wheel)
4,100 light bulbs
300-400 workmen on site
Tanks in each of the towers (four, I think, no mention) held 8,000 gallons of water
79 Windows by Tiffany Glass Company
500 Bottles of imported French wines in Wine Room
145,000 Terra cotta roofing tile
150' X 53' Dining Room
300 bedrooms and lastly,
Four U. S. presidents stayed at the Ponce: Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding and William McKinley, as governor of Ohio and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.Alcazar Hotel (Owned by City of St. Augustine,where I worked), Basilica (Cathedral) of Diocese of St. Augustine (where I never worked) and to the far right, old Exchange Bank Building (24 Cathedral Place the tallest building in the city and the county, I'm pretty sure and where I worked on the sixth floor for years) and the original poured concrete (with coquina) fence with spiked balls surrounding the hotel
Check back and I'll have added more captions to the pictures.
For more information go to The St. Augustine Historical Society
Hope you enjoyed your short tour around St. Augustine, founded in 1565 and the Oldest City in the United States. By the way, the Hotel Ponce de Leon, is now Flagler College.
St. Augustine, I'm proud to say is my native city. It's so beautiful founded by the Spainish and still has that European flavor and ambiance. At times I must stop and look around and admire how beautiful a city we live in.