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Fourth-floor Solarium re-opens after $2.5 million restoration

Sep 20, 2013
by Staff

The last unrestored room in the historic former Hotel Ponce de Leon has re-opened for the first time in four decades after a $2.5 million restoration effort. The Solarium is on the fourth floor of the Ponce above the rotunda, and affords panoramic views of St. Augustine.

Construction was completed this summer as part of the 125th anniversary of the opening of the hotel. The Ponce, the centerpiece of Flagler College and a National Historic Landmark, was built by Standard Oil cofounder and railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Construction on the Solarium began in the fall of 2012.

The Solarium will be used for college events and special public tours.

When the Ponce became Flagler College in 1968, the Solarium was used as a library, occasional classroom, writing lab and offices for the college newspaper, The Gargoyle. It was closed off in the 1970s for safety reasons.

To launch the restoration effort, Flagler Board of Trustees member Delores Lastinger and her husband, Allen, committed a $500,000 challenge gift to the project. In 2012, the college received a $350,000 grant from the State of Florida. The Solarium was renamed to recognize the Lastingers for their lead gift.

“We’re so proud to be able to re-open this historic space and once again allow the public to enjoy the best view in St. Augustine,” said Flagler College President Dr. William T. Abare Jr. “The completion of the project would not have been possible without the generous donation of the Lastingers.”

The Solarium is less ornate than other rooms in the Ponce, but has large sliding windows that overlook the courtyard, and two flanking terraces with breathtaking views of St. Augustine and the bayfront.

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