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Hotel Ponce de Leon aims to be one of "Florida's Top 100 Buildings"

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The Hotel Ponce de Leon is the first major cast-in-place concrete building in the United States; it is recognized as an engineering as well as an architectural landmark.
Photo Credit: Nikhilesh Haval

The Florida AIA (American Institute of Architecture) is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a project launched with the Florida Department of State and Division of Historical Resources. “Florida’s Top 100 Buildings” recognizes buildings built between 1912 and 2012, with a caveat that buildings restored in that time frame can be included, too.

St. Augustine was omitted entirely.

Help us demonstrate to all Floridians the importance of the Hotel Ponce de Leon, considered to be one of America’s most important buildings. Through April 6 vote every day, logon to:
http://www.aiaflatop100.org/Write-In.cfm and complete the form. Below are bits of information about the Ponce that can be pasted (one a day) into the message section of the voting form (all blanks must be filled). Let’s make the Hotel Ponce de Leon the #1 Florida building!!

· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was the first and remained the flagship hotel of Henry Flagler’s chain of Florida East Coast properties.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon is the first major cast-in-place concrete building in the United States; it is recognized as an engineering as well as an architectural landmark.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon features mortar from Hanover, Germany; later, the same type of mortar was used in the Biltmore at Asheville, NC and the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was the first architectural commission for architects John Merven Carrere and Thomas Hastings.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon included architect Bernard Maybeck as a draftsman; he went on to California and designed hundreds of significant buildings.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon’s interior furnishings were provided by the prestigious New York firm of Pottier and Stymus.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon’s carved woodwork was accomplished by a team led by master carver Bernhardt Maybeck, father of the architect Bernard Maybeck.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was managed in the 1890s by Henry Flagler’s son Harry Harkness Flagler and for 60 years in the 20th century by Flagler’s brother-in-law William Rand Kenan, Jr.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was built by New England shipbuilders James McGuire and Joseph McDonald.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon’s interiors and 79 stained glass windows were the creation of Louis Comfort Tiffany; the windows are the largest private collection in the world remaining in their original location.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon’s power plant and 8,000 electric lights were provided by Thomas Edison and the Edison General Manufacturing Company, making the building the first in Florida to feature electricity.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was Florida’s first building with running water and the first hotel with bathrooms.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon features murals in the Grand Parlor that were created by Italian artist Virgilio Tojetti.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was built in 18 months at a cost of $2.5 M (more than $60M today).
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon hosted five U.S. Presidents.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was the setting for part of the movie The Celestine Prophecy.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was the setting for an episode of the Route 66 tv show as part of St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary celebration in 1965.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon restoration was begun for its 100th anniversary with a team of national experts and the architectural firm of Biltmore Campbell Smith of Asheville, NC.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon provided entertainment of all sorts for its guests including concerts by John Philip Sousa.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon hosted athletic competitions including the Tropical Championship tennis tournament held in late March that attracted some of the best players from the US and England.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon featured Artists’ Studios that cultivated American artists the most notable of whom was Martin Johnson Heade whose works now hang in the White House and National Gallery of Art.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 2006, one of only 2,500 buildings in the US to receive this distinction.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon hosted Ambassador Andrew Young when he donated his Civil Rights archive to Flagler College.
· The Hotel Ponce de Leon’s Dining Room was described in 2010 by Garrison Keillor as “the most opulent student cafeteria in America.” Author Pat Conroy concurred.


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