If you appreciate classic architecture, then be sure to schedule a historic tour at Flagler College when you're in St. Augustine. Built as Hotel Ponce de Leon by railroad magnate, Henry M. Flagler in 1888, it is also a designated National Historic Landmark. On a campus full of tall palms, this once highly exclusive resort exemplifies Spanish Renaissance architecture at its finest. It's also one of .my favorite architectural styles.
From the moment I arrived, for our complimentary tour, the buildings' pale walls, red roofs and ornately decorated towers captivated me. The view from one rooftop (see top photo) took my breath away, too.
Inside we saw incredible artistry at every turn. Strategically placed lighting and stunning painted design covered a 68-foot domed ceiling inside the rotunda, above carved wood railings and decorative posts.
In the dining room, ornately painted arches visually 'framed' 79 luminescent Tiffany stained glass windows that illuminated the space with broad streams of natural light. Stunning wall and ceiling murals also punctuated this enormous room.
Our tour ended in the Flagler Room, once christened the Women's Grand Parlor. This was quintessential elegance, punctuated by handcrafted Austrian crystal chandeliers and original hotel furnishings. Ornate fireplaces and crown molding complemented thick, full-length curtains and yet another gorgeous ceiling mural. A modern podium and desk chair were the only incongruous elements in this beautiful space.
The entire city of St. Augustine is steeped in history - including Flagler College. Find updates regarding tour availability amid the coronavirus pandemic, here.
Note: As a writer associated with the travel industry, I received a complimentary tour, for the purpose of this review. While it has not influenced this post, I wish to disclose all potential conflicts of interest.
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