on November 4, 2000
Henry M. Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil, came to St. Augustine in the late 1880’s and transformed it into a resort community. Henry M. Flagler's name may not be as known as his partner's in the Standard Oil business, John D. Rockefeller, but his power was just as strong in the oil industry in the 1870s and 1880s. Flagler’s influence is seen very often in the state of Florida, including St. Augustine. He built two hotels and took over another to serve as the base of his Flagler System hotels. He founded the Florida East Coast Railway as a means of transporting guests to and from the north to his hotels in St. Augustine, Palm Beach, and Miami.
Three of his former St. Augustine hotels are in use today as Flagler College (Hotel Ponce de Leon), Lightner Building/City Hall (Alcazar) and Casa Monica, redone as a county courthouse in the 1960's. Casa Monica is being revived to its former glory presently. The grand Ponce de Leon Hotel opened in January 1888. The Alcazar was being built across the street. Once he purchased the Casa Monica, Flagler changed this sleepy town into a resort town.
After a few years his dream of a 'winter Newport' faded and he, and the wealthy northern visitors, moved further south. He continued to develop the Florida East Coast Railroad down the peninsula, into and across the Florida Keys, creating hotels and communities along the way.
Flagler died in 1913 at the age of 93, and is buried alongside his wife, daughter and granddaughter in a mausoleum in Memorial Presbyterian Church, here in the city that drew him to Florida.
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