The Former Alcazar Hotel

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Lightner Museum was originally built as the Alcazar Hotel in 1887.  It was constructed across the street from the Ponce de Leon and displays the same Spanish Renaissance style, was built by the same architects (Carrere and Hastings), and commissioned by the same Henry M. Flagler.  The Alcazar was built a less luxurious hotel for those who could not afford to stay at the Ponce de Leon.  Despite its designation as a more economical hotel, the architecture and interiors were spectacular.The Alcazar boasted a steam room, massage parlor, gymnasium, and sulfur baths, as well as the world’s largest indoor swimming pool.  The Alcazar also housed a large casino and 2 floor open mezzanine ballroom.  Many of the Ponce de Leon guests would spend their time socializing with the crowds that were drawn to the entertaining atmosphere of the Alcazar.Otto C. Lightner purchased the hotel to house his extensive collection of Victoriana in 1946, opening it as a museum 2 years later.  3 floors of the hotel house the museums glass, art, sculpture and furniture collections.The world’s once “largest indoor pool” was located in the lower level of the hotel, and could be viewed from the 2 stories of ballroom mezzanines above.  The pool has since been converted into a restaurant and collection of antique shops.The museum architecture, collections, and shops were a site to see.  There were just so many things to look at it was hard to take it all in.

Throughout the historical town, the architecture, the craftsmanship, the detailing, the artwork, the light fixtures, the carpets and all the spectacular shops were well worth it.  I would definitely recommend making the trip to St Augustine Florida.