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Keys to close Spring 2013 Community Lecture Series with talk on the Hotel Ponce de Leon

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Leslee Keys
Leslee Keys will present "The Modern Wonder of the Ancient City: The Myth and the Marvel of the Hotel Ponce de Leon” at the May 17 Community Lecture Series event.

May 3, 2013

Even before it opened in January of 1888, Henry Flagler’s Hotel Ponce de Leon had attained a reputation as an architectural masterpiece, showcasing the talents of the nation’s most important artists and craftsmen. Beyond the building’s physical presence, the hotel achieved a mystique that continues today.

Leslee Keys, an instructor in history and director of Community Outreach for Public History in the Department of Humanities at Flagler College, fell victim to that mystique the second she stepped foot in St. Augustine.

“I have been awed by the building since I saw it in 1981 during my first visit to St. Augustine,” said Keys. “After conducting research on the hotel over the years, I am even more impressed and amazed.”

Keys’ research will be the highlight of the May 17 Community Lecture Series event, "The Modern Wonder of the Ancient City: The Myth and the Marvel of the Hotel Ponce de Leon.”

“Many people have written about the construction and use of the building, but the Flagler College story of the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation efforts have not been explored,” explained Keys.

Keys is also Flagler’s director of corporate, foundation and government relations, and is the president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

In honor of the 125th anniversary of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, the 2013 Community Lecture Series has focused on “The Hotel Ponce de Leon Deconstructed: Building the Future for Modern America.”

The series featured a lineup of historians and scholars discussing Henry Flagler’s vision for St. Augustine, social classes and American politics during the late 19th century, and the influence of art, music and literature during the Gilded Age. 

Tickets to the lecture are $5 per person. Active military personnel may attend at no charge. Lectures begin at 10 a.m. in the Flagler Room at Flagler College, 74 King St. The lecture will last approximately one hour and will be followed by a coffee and pastry reception.

This year, thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s Cultural Heritage and Nature Tourism Grant Program, Flagler College offered complimentary admission to the spring 2013 Flagler College Community Lecture Series for any St. Johns County tourism employee. Tourism employees interested in attending Keys’ lecture will need to present their employee name tag or ID at the lecture series registration table.

Reservations for the lecture series are required due to limited space. Call (904) 819-6282 for reservations or more information. To watch a live stream of these lectures, visit