Ponce de Leon Hotel

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Flagler College was originally built as hotel catering to New York’s high society. The hotel was only open during the winter, and guests were required book their room for the entire season. The trip from New York took 35 hours by rail. Guests traveled in plush Pullman Palace rail cars, considered a pleasurable mode of transportation.

The Ponce de Leon hotel and its interiors were completed in 2 years and the 1888 winter season was the hotel’s grand opening.

The Spanish Renaissance style of The Ponce de Leon was responsible for significantly influencing Florida’s architecture. A low pitched roof, red barrel tile, and arches above doors and windows are typical references to the style, seen on many homes and buildings throughout Florida.

The Ponce de Leon hotel was the first major poured in place concrete structure in the United States and one of the first buildings to have electricity. Just to think that electricity was cutting edge, makes the light fixtures seem all the more impressive. For many of the guests it was the first time they experienced electric lighting, and the hotel staff had to continually remind the guests to turn on their room lights.

It is astounding to believe at the turn of the century such spectacular buildings and interiors could be completed in just 2 years.  Especially when you consider all of the hand painted ceilings, terra cotta relief decorating the walls, architectural details & trim, mosaic floor tiling, stain glass windows and every unique chandelier and light fixture throughout the hotel.

I thoroughly enjoyed touring the college and was blown away by the attention to, and complexity of, detail. Whether it is your preferred style or not, I think you will agree, one can’t help but be impressed.