Monday, June 18, 2012

Flagler College

The former Ponce de Leon hotel in St. Augustine was built in 1888 and was later converted to a private liberal arts college, Flagler College, in 1968.

Oil magnant Flagler had the hotel built and hired famous artists and innovators of the day to adorn the interior such as Louis Comfort Tiffany for stained glass windows and chandeliers, and Thomas Edison for electric light.

There was running water and steam heat in the hotel. Beautiful mosaic tile floors and carved oak columns enhance the interior and lush gardens surround the buildings.

Buildings are constructed of poured concrete and edged with red brick and terra cotta carvings and topped with red tile roofs. Water and boiler towers, spires, and red brick chimneys jut into the skyline.

Draped iron chains and spike studded spheres hang from concrete posts as a fence.

Copper lightening rods top the rotunda and other spires.

The concrete used in the building was a mixture of Portland cement, sand, and coquina (a limestone composed of broken shells, corals, and other organic debris).  The concrete walls were poured in place with wood forms holding them till they hardened. The foundation is four feet thick and the exterior walls taper to two feet thick in the upper stories.

The coquina for the Ponce de Leon came from quarries on Anastasia Island. It was crushed to use as the aggregate in the concrete mix, and the shell stone is plainly visible in the hotel walls.  The Portland cement came from a New York City company that imported it from Germany. At one point I looked down and saw I was walking on beautiful stamped brick sidewalk.

If you only tour Flagler College in St. Augustine you'll have memories to last a lifetime. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.


  1. Hello Linda:
    What a truly amazing building and what remarkable construction of poured concrete. Judging from your images there is so much detail to see at every turn and whilst it is no longer an hotel, it is good to see that as Flagler College this historic building, containing the work of so many famous crafts people, is being preserved for future generations.

  2. How wonderful to see an old hotel repurposed to a college. It looks like it well cared for and loved in it's new incarnation.

  3. Ooh gosh! those are some fun fotos!

  4. Thanks for this beautiful tour, Linda. I've heard so many wonderful things about Flagler College but haven't been. Mr. Flagler truly put his money to good use.

  5. OK, now you're going to have to post a tour of the main building at Tampa College, another hotel from the railroad magnets but on the west coast! I'm so glad some of these gorgeous buildings still survive. You do give a good tour, complete with descriptions and slides, er photos.

  6. that is quite a structure! and I learned something about portland cement too. My ex is a brick/stone mason and I always thought it was portland cement because it came from Maine... ha ha ha!

  7. What a wonderful building.


  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi Jane and Lance, thanks, I think the construction for that day and age was truly visionary. If there was a hurricane I'd feel safer inside that building for sure. The buildings are on the historic register so will definitely be preserved.

    Hi Suzi, thanks, yes wouldn't it be inspiring to go to college in those environs?

    Hi Turquoisemoon, thanks, I was in awe of all that architecture from so long ago.

    Hi Kittie, thanks, yes if you have money might as well make something of beauty and for posterity.

    Hi Barbara, thanks, you mean there are more college buildings worth seeing, I'll have to check it out.

    Hi Michele, thanks, and I always thought it came from Portland Oregon, since I lived on the West coast. ha.

    Hi Elna, thanks, yes they were truly amazing buildings.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment