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Flagler awarded three state grants for 125th anniversary celebration

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Dr. William T. Abare, Jr., President of Flagler College, announced the award of three grants through the State of Florida to the institution totaling $425,000, noting, "Flagler College is pleased that the State of Florida has joined with private donors and the College to recognize the importance of Ponce de Leon Hall and the 2013 celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the building's opening as the Hotel Ponce de Leon. The $2 million project will complete substantial restoration and rehabilitation of the building."

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 $1,500,000 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.

All of the projects are expected to begin in fall of 2012.

Flagler College has chosen St. Augustine-based A.D. Davis Construction, which specializes in custom construction for commercial, residential, renovation and historic restoration, to complete the Solarium project.

Projects that were approved for funding are:

• $350,000 for restoration of the Solarium of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, a National Historic Landmark, additionally honoring the 100th anniversary of Henry Flagler's completion of the Overseas Railway and his importance to the development of Florida;

• $50,000 through a #1 ranked Acquisition and Development grant for restoration of the Solarium; and

• $25,000 through a #1 ranked Community Education grant for the 125th Anniversary Exhibition project.

Hotel Ponce de Leon -- Solarium

The twin towers of the Ponce flank a great dome topped by a copper lantern. These elements define the St. Augustine skyline and have done so since the time of the Hotel's opening in 1888. They represent Florida's first "boom" era; serve as landmarks for travelers on land and water; and are the featured architectural elements in many photos. In 1964, prior to St. Augustine's 400th anniversary, the City established height limitations relative to these building elements: no building would be constructed taller than the towers on the Ponce. Those standards remain in place today, helping to make the St. Augustine skyline one of the most photographed in the nation and reflecting the city's longstanding commitment to preservation of its cultural resources.

The grant projects have been financed in part with historic preservation grant assistance provided by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission.