Henry Flagler put St. Augustine on the map. With his Flagler Hotel in 1888 he attracted the rich and famous to spend their winters in his opulent hotel which held a ball room, an elaborate dining room with orchestras playing as you ate, a swimming pool, bowling alley, and movie studio. All this for $100,000. for a 3 1/2 month stay. (This equates to $4 million in today’s currency).
As couples entered the Hotel they past the opulent gates and through a courtyard with a fountain spewing filtered water. It is a sundial with 12 frogs to designate the hours, and 4 turtles for seasons.
A gentleman would then open the door for the couple with the lady escorted to the ballroom to rest and have tea while her husband tended the cash payment for the stay.
Upon completion of arrangements patrons would be accompanied to their rooms with bags unpacked by one of the many servants who catered to their every whim.
As Mr. Flagler was a personal friend of Thomas Edison his Hotel was one of the first buildings electrified in the country. This was done with DC current and exploding light bulbs were a concern. Guests became fearful so staff were always in attendance to shut lights on and off until the Hotel was later rewired to AC current.
The Hotel is has one of the largest collection of Tiffany windows, glass, sculptures, and chandeliers, much of which is priceless.
It is a unique work of art and while it is now a dorm for freshman female Flagler students it remains flawlessly maintained.
In 1967 after Hotel closure the City of St. Augustine had decided to tear down the structure and make a parking lot. A distant nephew of Henry purchased the structure and made it into a female college. In 1971 men were allowed and as of today there are 2600 students taking coursework in 50 majors. Tuition is approximately $30,000. annually.
So, on your visit to St. Augustine be sure to stop by and take the tour. It’s one you will never forget.