Flagler College aka Ponce de Leon Hotel


Member Rating 4 out of 5 by airynfaerie on February 1, 2010

If you ask a local of St. Augustine (the nation's oldest European settlement) what the "star" fo the historic downtown area is, it's very likely that they'd answer "Flagler College". This private liberal arts college has one of the most unique campuses in the country, as it's held in the former Hotel Ponce de Leon. The college itself was founded in 1968 and has won many awards during the recent years. Expanding the campus to various other buildings throughout the historic area, Flagler College now owns over 15 historic buildings including the center 19 acres of the old hotel property.

The Ponce de Leon Hotel was originally build in 1885 in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style and commissioned by the owner and Standard Oil co-founder Henry Flagler. His plan was to turn the hotel one of the premier resort destinations for the wealthy and promote St. Augustine as the "Winter Newport". This grand undertaking was one of the first public buildings in America to have electricity and featured posh rooms, each with a unique layout, personal fireplace, and upscale decor. Flagler later added a sister hotel across King Street which is now the Lightner Museum, but was previously touted as a luxury fitness and resort spa hotel with the nations' largest indoor pool.

Today the stunning architecture of Flagler College is worth a walk around the exterior to admire the red Spanish tiled roofs as well as the unique poured-concrete construction walls. On the east side of the campus notice the large circular building near the side fountain and parking lot. This circular annex is the luxurious dining hall. Here students eat within the walls which house the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass windows in the world. On the west side of the campus you'll see the lovely palm garden and pool area. Entering the main courtyard, enjoy a relaxing sit by the fountain or step into the rotunda and take in the 80' domed ceiling.

Now, visitors can get an up close look at the stunning architecture and hear many interesting facts about the building during the onsite tours offered by "Legacy Tours of Flagler College" daily at 10am and 2pm. Enter the main rotunda to start the tour and purchase tickets, or you can also buy tickets at the Flagler Legacy shop which is at 59 Saint George Street (the main historic pedestrian street). The tours last approximately one hour and some of the highlights include the area of the rotunda, dining hall, and Flagler Room.

• www.flagler.edu
• 74 King Street, St Augustine, FL 32084
• College: (904) 829-6481, Tours: (904) 819-6400
• Tours daily at 10am, 2pm
• Admission $7 (discounts for locals, children)
Flagler College
74 King Street
St. Augustine, Florida, 32084
(904) 829-2424

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