Flagler Hotel now Flagler College

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.

Chandelier with a clock designed by Thomas Edison in the background.

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.

Thanks, Henry for putting St. Augustine on the map.

Venardos Circus

learned of this St. Augustine event via Groupon and glad I did as it made for a fun New Years Day. The master of ceremonies was a young man, as is the troop, and he explained 3 years ago St. Augustine gave them one of their first breaks, and now they are a touring nationally. They are at the St. Augustine Auditorium through 1/5/20, so pick up a ticket if in the area. I am posting this extra blog in the hopes folks will, especially those with holiday visitors.

The circus began with a show tune extravaganza followed by a gal who twirled over 10 hula hoops on her 4 extremities.

Then there was fire-eating..

And a aerialist team who thrilled.

Followed by audience participation with ringing bells.

And my favorite the silks.

What a great venue for Florida seniors to bring their kids with kids for the holidays.

St Augustine: Aglow for the Holidays

From now through February St. Augustine will be brightly lit and on New Years Eve fireworks will explode adding to the oldest city in America’s charm. Here’s a few pics to savor..

Comfortable Trams guide visitors through the lights.

Or a wagon..

Or a carriage ride..

Purchase lights to add to the glow..

It’s fun for all ages young or old..

And even newlyweds..

In the square or in the street..

Come, enjoy and have a look..

Happy Holidays to all.

St Augustine: Daytime Visit Flagler College Kitchen and Dining Room Community Open House: Eco-Friendly

Today marked the community open house for the Flagler College kitchen and dining room renovation. While to some this may sound like small potatoes, (pardon the pun), to renovate a dining room encompassed in priceless stained glass Tiffany windows was no easy feat. All this was completed over summer break.

The dining room now has a food court with rotating menus from countries round the world. They also have deli and food service available for vegans, gluten free, and those with dietary preferences. These students make up 26% of the student population.

One of the main attractions to the renovation was the food digester. Everyday 200 pounds of food waste bound for the landfill goes down the drain. The digester makes this waste liquid even venting the methane gas, a by-product of the process. By 2025, 50% of food headed for the landfill will be eliminated by the digester. Currently the college is at 23% of goal. Cooking oil is also recycled and changed to a biodiesel.

The Digester – black piece middle of picture

Recyclable plastics made of a 50/50 construction of corn and plastics are currently being used in the kitchen and all paper products are compostable. Straws have been eliminated. To ensure students are aware of this eco-friendly environment training sessions are given three times a year.

Main kitchen

Student provide 25% of the kitchen labor with part time schedules of 12 to 15 hours per week. Schoolwork is always the priority.

Allergen free kitchen area

So final question… While the kitchen promotes vegan and salad bar entrees, what do you think the students favorite fare is?

Chicken nuggets

Guess Ronald McDonald won this one!

More pics of the dining room and later tonight.. the Christmas lights of St. A.

The dining room is also available for weddings.

St. Augustine Wild Reserve

And wild it was walking through caged lions, tigers, bears, coyotes, and the like. Our wonderful guide gave a 2 hour tour expounding on the intricacies of each creature viewed and how this valuable rescue center worked with and housed these animals.

Pictures were not allowed however they sell a thumb drive for those interested. I forgot to pick one up post tour as the Florida rains persisted. Bring a raincoat just in case, and if not they sell ponchos.

All folks except the founder are volunteers and what a dedicated group they are. Many develop alliances to the animals for years. Animals can arrive because of 3 different circumstances:

  • Over breeding
  • Seizures from animal rescue
  • Retirement from such venues as movies, several were failed actors.

There is no breeding at the preserve and animals stay till their final hours. Every tour is done as a feeding tour and the animals are fed according to their body weight and health needs. And they receive vitamins to boot!

No wonder it is the most popular place in St. Augustine to tour, but call for times and reservations. I found out about the place while exploring Groupon for things to do in St. Augustine and was glad I did. Children on the tour were fascinated. What a great family event.

And.. if you are so inclined they always need the following:

  • Bird seed
  • Bleach, dish liquid
  • Bubble Bath
  • Extra large trash bags
  • Rain ponchos
  • Bread
  • Blueberry muffins, unsalted nuts

Deborah Warrick – hat’s off to you. Reserve foundress and biologist.

The St. Augustine Wild Reserve

PO Box 3546 St. Augustine, Fl 32085

904-940-0664

Dolphin Odyssey

Went with Red Boat Water Tours of Vilano Beach, (a stones throw from St. Augustine, Florida), on this Odyssey. St. Augustine is home to 240 dolphins who live here year round. No snow birds in this species…

These 240 natives were out in force today and while I was unable to get a picture due to their fast moves they certainly were looking at us. Dolphins are enormously curious and live in a pod which is a family unit. As they rose to the surface they “eye’ed,” us. Many babies were out in force traveling in two’s as they rose to the surface. Great fun for all on the trip, especially the children who had much knowledge of these creatures.

Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Pexels.com

This is just what they looked like.

Dolphins have an 11 month gestation and are mammals so they need to rise to the surface to get air. This is a learned behavior from mom and when she tires from the babe not catching on other dolphins in the pod help with the training . Nice touch.

Which brings us to the next question, how do dolphins sleep? They don’t because they have a right and left brain and can operate on either. When they get tired the other brain switches on. If only us humans could do that..

So, when visiting St. Augustine consider the Red Boat Water Tour. The Captain and First Mate Jennifer have a fascinating tour and the main attraction give quite a show.

Red Boat Water Tours operates from Vilano Beach Fishing Pier and run a variety of boat cruises. They are on Groupon but also can be reached at redboatwatertours.com or (904) 436-3566.

Views of St. Augustine from the boat- the town, the Bridge of Lions, and the Fort Castillo de San Marcos

Fort Mose

On US 1 north, shortly before the City of St. Augustine, stands Spanish soldiers on each side of the route. These soldiers protect the entrance to one of my favorite places in the area, Fort Mose. A small, serene, and scenic state park, it holds much history. The area was established as a refuge for Negro slaves in 1688. Then in 1738, with St. Augustine then under Spanish rule the King freed the slaves and had Fort Mose created for their protection.

While my short summation does not describe the many nuances of this period, a trip to the museum at the park surely does. The interactive exhibits will interest and intrigue young children, as well as adults wishing to learn of this colonial history. Cost of admission is $2 for adults with children under 6 free. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m.

Besides the museum there are trails to walk, places to picnic, and interesting vegetation to observe. Fort Mose also has several living history events throughout the year. In June there is a reenactment of the Bloody Battle of Fort Mose with uniformed soldiers and muskets firing. Then in February the Flight to Freedom reenactment has costumed participants explaining the journey to Fort Mose. Escaping slaves, bounty hunters, and priests tell their tale in blocking or assisting these individuals as they journeyed toward freedom.

Fort Mose is currently undergoing a $500,000. Capital Campaign to represent portions of the 1738 Fort and further develop their living history programs. I look forward to seeing the Park additions.

Donations may be sent to:
Fort Mose Historical Society
P.O. Box 4230
St. Augustine, Fl. 32085
Attention: TJ Jackson

Peaceful St. Augustine

Among all the St. Augustine hoopla there is a quiet place to take a stroll, and sit awhile. This place is the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, and is a stop on both trolley routes. Here shade abounds and there is no need to be a Catholic to enjoy the peace.

Area where Spanish landed.

Spanish explorers established St. Augustine, the oldest city in America, on September 8, 1565, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The first mass was celebrated on the shores of the Shrine.

St Francis Statute and Prayer

Later Franciscans brought the La Leche image to the Shrine in 1609, and devotion quickly spread as local Indians were converted. The current Shrine has been the center of devotion to those wishing to conceive, mothers to be, and mothers.

On the grounds are burial plots of the sisters who came to St. Augustine to teach the freed black slaves. There are also many statutes of saints, and a small chapel. The large cross on the property was a gift from the Pope on the 450th anniversary of the City of St. Augustine.

Directly off the main street is a larger church which is a convenient respite for those unable to walk to the grounds. This comfortable church has much beauty with air conditioning and bathrooms. Next to the church is a museum of interesting religious artifacts.

This area was hit hard with hurricanes and remains under renovation. Near completion is a retreat center, a new gift shop replacing that which was destroyed, and several other upgrades.

Worth the visit. Tell the Lord I sent you. 🙂

Non-denomination place to sit and rest.

Shelly

My neighbor, Shelly, is going to be 80 soon. She’s my favorite neighbor in the condo complex. When I was looking for a first level condo I met her as she was walking her dog in front of the complex. She told me all about the area and how she enjoyed living here. Shelly had more information than the realtor.

My friend has been going through a lot of health matters this past year. As a nurse for 44 years I’ve become quite updated on all the new fangled medical things out there by listening to what they’ve done to her body and soul.

Today I called to check on her as she received another ghastly new procedure. In listening to her tale I cringed, but one thing about this lovely Southern woman is her spirit. As the conversation came to a close she said, “Call me tomorrow, I’ll be better then.”

We all need to think that way.

Ladybugs are good luck. Good luck, my friend.

Princess Place

One of my 2 favorite spots in the St. Augustine area is Princess Place. This 1100 acre property was purchased from Spain by Francisco Pelletier in 1781, with ownership transferred in 1886 to Henry Mason Cutting, a man of wealth from New England. Located south of St. Augustine, Florida, on Kings Highway, it is maintained by Flagler County, and free of charge with donations accepted.

In 1887, Cutting built an Adirondack Camp Lodge on the property with servants quarters, tennis courts, a caretakers home, horse stables, as well as Florida’s first in ground swimming pool. Many visited the lodge, hunting the area with Mr. Cutting, and socializing with his wife, Angela Mills Cutting. Sadly, in 1892, he died leaving his widow with 2 young children to raise. She later remarried an exiled Russian prince, Boris Scherbatoff, (later changed to Scherbatow for fear of his life), hence the name change to Princess Place.

Sit and rock awhile as you gaze at the view.

Descendants still live on the property which is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 6 pm. Fascinating tours of the home are given by park rangers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 pm. There is a movie about the property at the Visitor Center which is next to the Ranger Station on the side of the home. This is a must see.

Also on Kings Highway is the Florida Agriculture Museum, which is open Wednesday- Sunday 10-4. This is another fascinating trip in history telling the tale of the Cracker lifestyle. There is a charge, but worth the fee.

Tomorrow I will let you in on another St. Augustine area secret. Stay tuned.