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State grants recognize Henry Flagler’s legacy

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With the adoption of the state budget, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature recognized the importance of Henry M. Flagler to the state of Florida. The budget included a grant of $350,000 awarded to Flagler College to benefit the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, now known as Ponce de Leon Hall and the centerpiece of the Flagler campus. The Ponce is a National Historical Landmark.

These funds will be used as part of the $2 million project, A Crowning Achievement: The Campaign for Restoration of the Solarium.

“Flagler College is grateful for the recognition and is pleased to be the recipient of these funds, which will assist in completing the restoration of the building for the 125th Anniversary celebration of the opening of the former resort hotel in 1888,” said Flagler President Dr. William T. Abare, Jr. “The celebration and dedication of the Solarium are scheduled to take place in 2013.”

The renovation of the Solarium and the fourth floor of Ponce de Leon Hall will complete the building’s full return to active use.

Historically, the Solarium served as an area where guests could gather for conversation, enjoy entertainment, or watch activities taking place in town or along the bay front. Rehabilitation of this room and the fourth floor will permit similar activities, as well as provide for an exceptional event venue. The Solarium remains as the last significant space to be restored in the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, and the room is quite different than any other.

The fundraising campaign began in 2009, and since that time the college has secured more than $1.5 million from private sources for the project. In honor of their lead gift, the Solarium will be renamed to recognize historic preservation supporters and philanthropists Allen and Delores Lastinger. Mrs. Lastinger is a member of the college’s Board of Trustees.

The Solarium project was selected from a recommended list of ranked Special Category projects in the Department of State budget. In addition, Flagler received first place rankings for a $50,000 small matching grant for the Solarium and a $25,000 exhibition grant as part of the 125th Anniversary program. Restoration work is expected to begin this summer with an anticipated completion date in January or February of 2013.