Perhaps the best way to beat the competition is to be your own competition! Right across the street from Henry Flagler’s Ponce de Leon Hotel is Flagler’s Alcazar Hotel. He construction on his second hotel as soon as the first was finished. I checked into the Alcazar yesterday so I could record the building as a guest.
|The Alcazar Hotel as seen from the Ponce de Leon Hotel|
Flagler also demolished a roller rink and filled in a creek. He bought a farm north of town so he could dig up dirt to fill in the Maria Sanchez Creek. The farm he dug up had been the site of the historic first Fort Mose, a community of free black settlers back in 1738. Flagler didn’t let expense, history or God get in his way of his schemes.
The Alcazar Hotel was opened in 1888, built with poured concrete and coquina stone just like the Ponce de Leon Hotel. It was designed by Carrère and Hastings, who also designed the Ponce de Leon. They will go on to design numerous other buildings including the New York Public Library. That famous building will not be as grand as this one.
|Parlor of the Alcazar Hotel|
|Alcazar's indoor swimming pool|
By 1932, those heady days will be gone. What with the Great Depression and the waning tourist trade moving further down the coast, the hotel had to be closed. In 1946 Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner bought the Alcazar Hotel do house his vast collection of Victoriana. What better place than one of the former luxury hotels of the Gilded Age? The building itself would be part of his collection. He not only had art, furniture, and glassware from the period, but glass and polished wood museum cases full of stuffed animals, minerals and artifacts that Victorians loved to collect. Lightner would later donate his Museum to the City of St. Augustine.
|Bridge across the fish pond in the courtyard|
The Lightner Museum
More photos of the Alcazar Hotel
|The steam room - Turkish or Russian Bath|