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Flagler announces celebration commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Hotel Ponce de Leon

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Hotel Ponce de Leon

On Jan. 12, Flagler College will kick off a yearlong celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Hotel Ponce de Leon with an opening day ceremony.

Jan. 8, 2013

On Jan. 12, 1888, the Hotel Ponce de Leon opened its doors and became one of the grandest hotel resorts of its day. On Jan. 12, 2013, Flagler College will kick off a yearlong celebration of the 125th anniversary of this National Historic Landmark with an opening day ceremony featuring an orchestra, special tours and Gilded Age re-enactors.

At 9:30 a.m., trumpeters will announce the arrival of guests to Henry Flagler's Hotel Ponce de Leon as the gates open and an orchestra plays patriotic music on the Loggias. Visitors will then be able to walk the same halls as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison and Henry Flagler once did. Visitors can mingle with the Gilded Age guests and hotel staff, and perhaps say hello to Mr. and Mrs. Flagler as they dine in the Hotel's grand dining room. The event is free and open to the public.

During the event, guests will be able to tour the former Hotel Ponce de Leon and can peruse the "Celebrating the Legacy" exhibit featuring original artifacts from the hotel.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors can also check out "Planning and Painting in Paradise: The Art and Architecture of the Hotel Ponce de Leon" at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum featuring historically and culturally significant ephemera relating to the construction and early years of the Hotel Ponce de Leon.

A landmark in American architecture in the Nation's Oldest City, the Ponce's Spanish Renaissance architecture and lavish decoration attracted the wealthy and the elite from presidents to movie stars.

The event is part of "Celebrating the Legacy: 125 Years of the Hotel Ponce de Leon." The yearlong celebration will honor the legacy of Flagler's entrepreneurship and community-building. The founding partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, he launched a resort empire along Florida's east coast with construction of the Ponce.

The Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel incorporated the talents of New York architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings (New York Public Library) and Bernard Maybeck (Palace of the Fine Arts, San Francisco), interiors and 79 stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany, murals by George Maynard (duplicated a decade later in the Library of Congress) and steam power and electricity by Thomas Edison.

The celebration will continue through 2013 with the events such as the Ideas and Images lecture series on Jan. 15 featuring John Blades discussing the "Henry Flagler Very Few People Know." The Community Lecture Series on "The Hotel Ponce de Leon Deconstructed" kicks off on January 22 with Tom Graham speaking on "Life and Leisure in Flagler's St. Augustine."

As part of the anniversary year celebration, the college has also taken on the final restoration of the hotel, the Solarium. The domed Solarium rises from the center of the building and is flanked by symmetrical roof terraces and twin towers that pierce the St. Augustine skyline.

Historically, the Solarium served as a place where hotel guests gathered for conversation, enjoyed entertainment, or watched activities taking place in town. The Solarium has been closed to students and visitors for more than 20 years.

Beginning in the spring of 2013, the Solarium will host Second Sunday Teas, giving visitors an opportunity to view the newly restored space while partaking in gourmet teas and a selection of traditional tea sandwiches and sweets.

Since its founding in 1968, Flagler College has invested more than $54 million in restoration and preservation of its historic properties like the Ponce.

Visit www.ponce125.com for more details.


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