Flagler College will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Hotel Ponce de Leon with a yearlong commemoration of the National Historic Landmark built by Henry Flagler. The Ponce is the centerpiece of the college’s St. Augustine campus, and was included on the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ list of top Florida architecture.

January 10, 2013 marks the anniversary of the opening of the Ponce in 1888. The celebration will include events focusing on the architectural, artistic, recreational and sociological impact the hotel has had on modern society, as well as showcase its historic and architectural highlights.

In conjunction with “Celebrating the Legacy: 125 Years of the Hotel Ponce de Leon,” the college has taken on the final restoration of the hotel, the Solarium. The domed Solarium rises from the center of the building and is flanked by symmetrical roof terraces and twin towers that pierce the St. Augustine skyline. These dramatic outdoor spaces afford unparalleled views of the city, the nearby Intracoastal Waterway and Bridge of Lions, as well as the Atlantic Ocean.

The Solarium served as a place where hotel guests gathered for conversation, enjoyed entertainment or watched activities taking place in town. It has been closed for more than 20 years, and the restoration is expected to be completed in 2013.

The anniversary celebration will honor the legacy of Flagler’s entrepreneurship and community-building. The founding partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, he launched a resort empire along Florida’s east coast with construction of the Ponce. The Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel incorporated the talents of New York architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings (New York Public Library) and Bernard Maybeck (Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco), interiors and 79 stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany, murals by George Maynard and steam power and electricity by Thomas Edison. The Ponce’s twin towers serve as an anchor to St. Augustine’s historic area.

“Celebrating the Legacy” will include: an opening day tour with period re-enactors leading guests through the Ponce on the same day the hotel first opened its doors; an exhibit of beautifully preserved original blueprints of the Ponce; a “Celebrating the Legacy” exhibit on the hotel’s construction, sports, leisure and arts; a community lecture series by Flagler professors; and a gilded age speaker series.

For more events and details about the celebration, go to www.ponce125.com

Source: Flagler College