Saturday, April 9, 2016


The steps of Flagler College have been the setting for group photos for decades, and this picture of me and my travel companions is no exception.  I was with a group of Road Scholar "life long learners" ( ) who had gathered on the East Coast of the USA, to learn as much as possible about St. Augustine, Florida. 

No tour of St. Augustine would be complete without a visit to historic Flagler College ( ).  Since the tours are so popular, there is a special department of the college, called "Flagler Legacy", that conducts the student-led tours, and operates the Flagler Legacy gift shop on the campus.  The tours and gift shop give students (like the one shown in this photo speaking to our group), experience in hospitality management, customer service, and retail economics.  The reason the tours draw thousands of visitors each year is because this centerpiece building of Flagler College used to be the luxurious Ponce de Leon Hotel, built in 1888. 

Our guide gave us a thorough tour of the inside of their famous dining room, and told us the exterior windows of the round dining room were bullet-proof, to protect the priceless stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.  That made me want to notice what the windows looked like from the outside, so I later took this photo of the rounded section of the college, as seen from the outside. 

The statue of Henry Morrison Flagler, who is responsible for the construction of the Ponce de Leon Hotel, stands guard at the King Street entry to Flagler College. 

This style of architecture is known as Spanish Renaissance, and the Ponce de Leon Hotel is considered to be one of its finest examples in the USA.  It was the first major poured-in-place concrete buildings in the United States, and since it was TRANSFORMED from a hotel into a college, the building is known as the Ponce de Leon Hall.  It was one of the first electrified buildings in the South, and was designed by two architects fresh out of college.   

This Flagler College student demonstrated how the original 1888 chairs for the dining room had wheels on the front two legs, so that the gentleman who was seating a lady could raise the back of the chair to gently wheel his female dining companion up to the dining table as he seated her.  Observing this demonstration made sense out of the seldom-seen practice of a man standing behind a woman being seated at a dining table.  Realistically, the idea of a present day man "scooting" his female companion up to the dining table, is little more than a symbolic gesture of courtesy, but now I understand where the practice started!

When a person enrolls in a college, it is usually for the purpose of improving their mind and TRANSFORMING it by adding knowledge and experience.  Plus, the fact that the college was literally TRANSFORMED from a hotel into a four-year liberal arts college, has made me choose this blog article/images as the visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses that says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is----his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2    With the availability of 29 major areas of study, and 34 minor areas of study, students at Flagler College will have ample opportunities to renew their minds---hopefully for the better!
A close-up of one of the Louis Comfort Tiffany-designed dining room windows, show that the lower section still allows those inside, to enjoy the views of the outside gardens as they are dining.

The ceiling murals throughout Flagler Hall are just as magnificent as the stained glass windows, and keep tourists looking up, as well as around!

The mosaic floors of the Ponce de Leon Hotel were also designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.  The restraints of actually using such a historic and significant structure have not kept the college administration from embracing new technology, as evidenced by the large Instagram poster in the dining room.  This room is not just used for tours and special events, but is the actual dining room where students who are enrolled in Flagler College eat their meals!  Pretty fancy for a college "Mess Hall", huh!?

A portrait of Henry M. Flagler hangs prominently in the Hall, and is reminder of the TRANSFORMATION that his entrepreneurship brought to tourism in Florida.  In fact, he is sometimes called "The Father of Florida Tourism".  Because he wanted passengers who rode his railroad to have a nice place to stay when they arrived in St. Augustine, he built the gorgeous Ponce de Leon Hotel, as well as several other properties in the area.  He is known as a "Gilded Age Industrialist", and along with John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil Company. 

This photo shows a section of the Flagler Room, which was originally the Grand Parlor---where women sat on one side, and men sat on the opposite side.  This photo shows examples of the clothing the  1888 guests would have worn, and also a view of the Tiffany Austrian crystal chandeliers throughout the hall.

The entry courtyard of Flagler College is open to the public free of charge, and provides a nice respite for rest and relaxation during a visit to downtown Saint Augustine.  One can dream away the hours, as they watch the shadows change on the centerpiece fountain that is also designed to be a sundial to let you know exactly HOW MANY hours you have been dreaming!   As I strolled around the courtyard, being amazed at the landscaping and the statuary and architectural details, I was giving thanks that this historic property is being preserved for generations to come!  This was a TRANSFORMING visit and gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!   Tricia