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Two St. Augustine books win inaugural Proctor Award

May 24, 2016 4:43 PM
Leslee Keys

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute has selected two recipients for its inaugural William L. Proctor Award, which was established to identify the best books or scholarly journal articles published each calendar year. This year’s winners are Dr. Leslee Keys, for her book “Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace,” and Elsbeth “Buff” Gordon for her book “Walking St. Augustine: An Illustrated Guide and Pocket History to America’s Oldest City.”

Keys is an assistant professor of history and director of historical preservation at Flagler College. Her book, published by the University Press of Florida, showcases the construction of Henry Flagler’s Hotel Ponce de Leon and its adaptive use as the centerpiece of the Flagler College campus. The book is the first to present the story of the preservation of the Hotel Ponce de Leon and to address the topic in the context of St. Augustine’s history from the preservation of the City Gate in 1827 through the Depression-era efforts to stabilize the city’s economy and up through St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary in 1965. The book’s peer reviewers included Dr. Meredith Arms Bzdak, Principal, Mills & Schnoering Architects, Princeton; Dr. Ted Ligibel, Executive Director, Historic Preservation Program, Eastern Michigan University; and Dr. Les Standiford, Director, Creative Writing Program, Florida International University. Keys was also recently recognized with the Roy E. Graham Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Education from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. At Flagler College, she has been closely involved with preservation efforts over the last decade on the campus.

Elsbeth GordonGordon’s book, “Walking St. Augustine,” was also published by the University Press of Florida. It provides readable information from scholars regarding St. Augustine’s history and architecture. It features easy-to-follow maps of walking tours through neighborhoods of the colonial city. The book’s publication in color was made possible through the generosity of University of Florida Historic St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Foundation, Inc. Gordon is an architectural historian living in St. Augustine. She is also the author of “Florida’s Colonial Architectural Heritage” and “Heart and Soul of Florida: Sacred Sites and Historic Architecture.” Gordon designs her research and writing to see the city through the eyes and times of those who lived and worked in St. Augustine through the centuries, as well as those who are today passionate about protecting the historic city’s past and future.   

The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, funded by the St. Augustine Foundation, was established in 1999 as a cooperative organization between Flagler College and the University of Florida to promote original research on the history, archaeology and architecture of St. Augustine and its environs. The Institute’s goal is to spread scholarly knowledge to the general public, and in support of this mission, the William L. Proctor Award was established in late 2015, and this is its inaugural year of awards. Proctor is chancellor of Flagler College, and former president of the college.