Touring Flagler’s Legacy in St. Augustine

    By Jodi Mailander Farrell

    You don’t have to be an aspiring college student to tour what The Princeton Review calls “one of the most beautiful campuses in the United States.”

    Daily public tours of Flagler College in St. Augustine highlight the architectural heritage of the erstwhile Hotel Ponce de Leon, a former luxury tourist attraction now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and part of the school’s campus.

    Built by millionaire developer Henry Flagler in 1888, the luxury hotel is considered one of the finest examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture and houses the largest collection of in-use Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows.

    Guests begin their tour by exploring the courtyard while learning of the hotel's Spanish Renaissance architecture and of the techniques and innovations used to construct Henry Flagler's vision.

    Next is the grand lobby where you can stare up into an 80-foot domed ceiling supported by eight ornate oak caryatids hand carved with robed women, each slightly different from the next.

    The tour continues into the dining room where 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany Stained Glass windows stream light onto hand-painted murals on the walls and ceiling.

    Visitors also spend time in the Flagler Room, formally the Women's Grand Parlor, decorated with hand-crafted Austrian crystal chandeliers, a Thomas Edison clock containing the largest piece of intact white onyx in the western hemisphere, original hotel furniture and art, as well as personal photos and mementos from Henry Flagler and his family.

    Located at 74 King St., tours depart from the Rotunda at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They cost $10 for adults; $8 for seniors ages 60 and up and active military personnel; $1 for children ages 4-12, and free for children under 4 years.

    Info: 904.823.3378, http://legacy.flagler.edu/pages/tours


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