Ponce de León Hotel - St. Augustine, FL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 29° 53.546 W 081° 18.884
17R E 469611 N 3306907
Quick Description: Completed in 1888, the Ponce de León Hotel was used as a hotel until 1967. In 1968, the former hotel became the centerpiece of the newly established Flagler College.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 4/20/2016 1:12:08 AM
Waymark Code: WMQZN3
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member the federation
Views: 7

Long Description:
According to the "Drive the Old Spanish Trail" (visit link) website, the Ponce de León Hotel (now part of Flagler College) is one of several must-see stops on the OST. This website states: "Influenced by the nearby Villa Zorayda, the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) and the Alcazar Hotel (now the Lightner Museum), both completed in 1888, were constructed of concrete. The more impressive of the two, the Ponce de Leon, had a red tile roof, overhanging balconies, domes and spires, and an interior designed by Louis Tiffany. It hosted presidents, and remained the social center of St. Augustine until its closure in 1967. (Today one can visit the lobby of Flagler College and stare up into high dome, gazing at the Tiffany glass and murals depicting St. Augustine history; tours are also available)."

The following additional information is from Wikipedia (visit link) :

"The Ponce de León Hotel was an exclusive hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, built by millionaire developer and Standard Oil co-founder Henry M. Flagler and completed in 1888. The Hotel Ponce de Leon was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style by the New York architects John Carrère and Thomas Hastings. These two would gain world renown and would eventually combine their firms into Carrere & Hastings, The hotel was the first of its kind constructed entirely of poured concrete[National Park Service], using the local coquina stone as aggregrate. The hotel also was wired for electricity at the onset, with the power being supplied by D.C. generators supplied by Flagler's friend, Thomas Edison. When electricity was first put in Henry M. Flagler hired staff to turn power on and off for his residents, because the people staying at the hotel were too afraid to turn the switches on and off. The building and grounds of the hotel are today a part of Flagler College.

Design

The Ponce de Leon Hotel was built on land that was part of a former orange grove and partially salt marsh belonging to Dr. Andrew Anderson, owner of the Markland house. The hotel at 74 King Street in the Spanish Quarter section of St. Augustine was designed by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrère and Hastings in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. Construction began in 1885 by contractors and former New England shipbuilders James McGuire and Joseph McDonald; the building was completed in 1887.

Interior elements of the hotel are credited to Louis Comfort Tiffany, with Pottier and Stymus responsible for the furnishings. Bernard Maybeck, whose later designs include the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, served as a draftsman on the project. Architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, who had recently arrived from Paris and who would go on to supervise the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, created the watercolor elevation of the hotel. Murals in the rotunda and dining room were completed by the well-known artist George W. Maynard, who a decade later did murals in the Treasures Gallery at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Noted Italian artist Virgilio Tojetti prepared the ceiling murals in the Grand Parlor.

The murals at the Ponce were well known at the time. Writing of a visit to St Augustine, Ring Lardner has one of his characters say:

"In the evenin' we strolled acrost the street to the Ponce—that's supposed to be even sweller yet than where we were stoppin' at. We walked all over the place without recognizin' nobody from our set. I finally warned the Missus that if we didn't duck back to our room I'd probably have a heart attack from excitement; but she'd read in her Florida guide that the decorations and pitchers was worth goin' miles to see, so we had to stand in front o' them for a couple hours and try to keep awake. Four or five o' them was thrillers, at that. Their names was Adventure, Discovery, Contest, and so on, but what they all should of [sic] been called was Lady Who Had Mislaid Her Clo'es.

The hotel's named after the fella that built it. He come from Spain and they say he was huntin' for some water that if he'd drunk it he'd feel young. I don't see myself how you could expect to feel young on water. But, anyway, he'd heard that this here kind o' water could be found in St. Augustine, and when he couldn't find it he went into the hotel business and got even with the United States by chargin' five dollars a day and up for a room." —Gullible's Travels (1917)

Originally, the twin towers of the hotel were water storage tanks which contained 8,000 gallons each, providing running water for hotel guests (during World War II, one of the towers served as a brig when the hotel was occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard as a training center). The Ponce de Leon was the nation’s first major poured-in-place concrete structure and, thanks to the Edison Electric Company, which had as its secretary-treasurer the architect Thomas Hastings' brother Frank, was one of the first buildings in the nation to have electricity."
Submission Criteria:

Distinctive or Significant Interest


Website with More Information: [Web Link]

Address of Waymark:
74 King Street
St. Augustine, FL USA
32084


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