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Graham discusses ‘Life and Leisure in Flagler's St. Augustine’ at Community Lecture Series event

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Tom Graham

The 2013 Flagler College Community Lecture Series kicks off on Jan. 22 with Dr. Tom Graham.

Jan. 18, 2013

When Henry Flagler announced that he planned to erect a grand new hotel in St. Augustine, he realized that the wealthy patrons staying at his palatial Hotel Ponce de Leon would wish for more in the way of entertainment.

“Well, I couldn’t sit still all the time and I used daily to take walks down St. George Street, around the plaza to the yacht club house and back to the hotel again,” Flagler is quoted as saying. “I found that all the other gentlemen did the same thing, with the same apparent regularity, and then, as now, that was all there was to do for recreation and amusement.”

And when Dr. Tom Graham kicks off the 2013 Community Lecture Series on Jan. 22, he’ll discuss just what Flagler did to add to fun to local life when he speaks on "Life and Leisure in Flagler's St. Augustine."

But Graham says despite the fact that Flagler created amusements for residents such as a large indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley, a dance floor, tennis courts as well as the Hotel Alcazar and Casino to serve as a recreation center, Flagler himself took part in very little of his own creations.

“The only amusements that Flagler himself enjoyed were yachting and, later on, automobiling,” said Graham. “I think the amusements provided by the Flagler System simply were designed to meet the desires of the hotel patrons.”

Dr. Graham has been with Flagler College since 1973 and currently serves as a professor of history in the liberal studies department. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida and his master’s and bachelor’s from Florida State University.

Dr. Graham's primary interest is in nineteenth century United States history and he is the author of several books including “Flagler’s St. Augustine Hotels,” “The Awakening of St. Augustine” and “Charles H. Jones, Journalist and Politician of the Gilded Age.”

He is a past president and honorary life member of the St. Augustine Historical Society and has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Historical Society.

In honor of the 125th anniversary of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon, the 2013 Community Lecture Series will focus on “The Hotel Ponce de Leon Deconstructed: Building the Future for Modern America.”
The series will feature a lineup of historians and scholars discussing Henry Flagler’s vision for St. Augustine, social classes and American politics during the late 19th century, the influence of art, music and literature during the Gilded Age, as well as other exciting topics.

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

Tickets are $5 per person for a single lecture, or $15 for four lectures. Active military personnel may attend at no charge. Lectures begin at 10 a.m. in the Flagler Room at Flagler College, 74 King St. Reservations are required, but space is limited. The lecture will last approximately one hour and will be followed by a coffee and pastry reception.

Call (904) 819-6282 for reservations or more information. To watch a live stream of these lectures, visit