a.k.a The Ponce de Leon Hotel that was an exclusive hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, built by millionaire developer and Standard Oil co-founder Henry M. Flagler and completed in 1888.
74 King St
St. Augustine , FL 32084
Open to the public: Yes
Demographic Rank: 6
Vistor Rating: 0.0
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History information is some background and history about the location. This is meant to be a basic summary. Below the history records you will find sources in which you can click on to find out more information. There may be multiple history records per location.
The Ponce de Leon Hotel was an exclusive hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, built by millionaire developer and Standard Oil co-founder Henry M. Flagler and completed in 1888. The Hotel Ponce de Leon was designed in the Spanish Renaissance style by the New York architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings. These two would gain world renown and would eventually combine their firms into Carrere & Hastings, The hotel was the first of its kind constructed entirely of poured concrete, using the local coquina stone as aggregate. The hotel also was wired for electricity at the onset, with the power being supplied by D.C. generators supplied by Flagler's friend, Thomas Edison. When electricity was first put in Henry M. Flagler hired staff to turn power on and off for his residents, because the people staying at the hotel were too afraid to turn the switches on and off. The building and grounds of the hotel are today a part of Flagler College.
The Ponce de Leon Hotel was built on land that was part of a former orange grove and partially salt marsh belonging to Dr. Andrew Anderson, owner of the Markland house. The hotel at 74 King Street in the Spanish Quarter section of St. Augustine was designed by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings of the firm Carrere and Hastings in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. Construction began in 1885 by contractors and former New England shipbuilders James McGuire and Joseph McDonald; the building was completed in 1887.
Interior elements of the hotel are credited to Louis Comfort Tiffany, with Pottier and Stymus responsible for the furnishings. Bernard Maybeck, whose later designs include the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, served as a draftsman on the project. Architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, who had recently arrived from Paris and who would go on to supervise the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, created the watercolor elevation of the hotel. Murals in the rotunda and dining room were completed by the well-known artist George W. Maynard, who a decade later did murals in the Treasures Gallery at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Noted Italian artist Virgilio Tojetti prepared the ceiling murals in the Grand Parlor.
Originally, the twin towers of the hotel were water storage tanks which contained 8,000 gallons each, providing running water for hotel guests (during World War II, one of the towers served as a brig when the hotel was occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard as a training center). The Ponce de Leon was the nation's first major poured-in-place concrete structure and, thanks to the Edison Electric Company, which had as its secretary-treasurer the architect Thomas Hastings' brother Frank, was one of the first buildings in the nation to have electricity
The headwaiter of the Hotel Ponce de Leon in the 1880s and 1890s was Frank Thompson, who was a pioneer civil rights advocate and an organizer of the professional black baseball team that became the Cuban Giants. One member of the team, Frank Grant, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Noted personalities including Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Somerset Maugham, Babe Ruth and Babe Didrikson stayed at the hotel.
The Hotel Ponce de Leon was one of the few Flagler Hotels to survive the Great Depression.
During World War II the Hotel was used as a Coast Guard Training Center. St. Augustine is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Coast Guard Reserve. One of the first classes to graduate from Reserve officer training did so at St. Augustine in May 1941 at the converted Hotel Ponce de Leon. From 1942-45, thousands of young recruits received their "boot" and advanced training at what was certainly one of the most unusual training stations of WWII. Members of the CGR returned to the former Hotel Ponce de Leon for their 50th Anniversary celebration.
One of the Coast Guardsmen was Jacob Lawrence, already a famous artist. According to the official USCG history, "In October 1943 Lawrence was drafted into the Coast Guard, then part of the Navy. As the armed services were still segregated, he, along with all African-American recruits, were automatically limited to the steward's mate rate. After his basic training at Curtis Bay, Maryland he was assigned to the Ponce de Leon Hotel (commandeered by the Coast Guard) in St. Augustine. Despite his rate, Lawrence was urged to continue his artistic endeavors by his commanding officer, Captain J.S. Rosenthal. He was later transferred to USCGC Sea Cloud , the first integrated ship in the naval services." He would go on to be the first black artist to have his works hung in both the Vatican and the White House. He never forgot the racism he encountered in St. Augustine.
In 1964 the city became a national stage for demonstrations that brought Martin Luther King to town. On March 31, 1964, more than a hundred students from all-black Richard J. Murray Middle School marched to downtown and sat-in at the elegant dining room of the Ponce de Leon Hotel. They were met by police with dogs and cattle prods and arrested. It was the first mass sit-in of the civil rights movement in St. Augustine, and it was reported the next day in the New York Times.
In 1968 the hotel became the centerpiece of the newly-established Flagler College. Beginning in 1976, with the nation's bicentennial anniversary, Flagler College embarked on an ambitious campaign to restore the Hotel and other Flagler-era campus buildings. In 1988 the College celebrated the centennial of the Hotel, and a decade later students created the Flagler's Legacy program which provides guided tours of the Hotel to thousands of visitors annually.
It was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and became a U.S. National Historic Landmark on February 21, 2006.
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
1967 was the final year of the Ponce de Leon Hotel. It's last dinner dance was held in April of 1967.
However, this fine building didn't stay closed for long. In 1968, Dr. F. Roy Carlson the President of Mount Ida Jr. College in Newton Mass. and his organization bought this now fixer upper opportunity for 1.5 million dollars. To open Flagler Junior College, a lot of work had to be done. Biltmore Campbell Smith Restoration firm was hired to renovate and retrofit for the hefty sum of $19 million. 2 million more dollars were spent to restore the glorious dining hall. It wasn't surprising then when the fledgling college ran into financial woes. They had to go through a reorganization in 1971, but Henry Flagler's grandson, Lawrence Lewis, got involved in a big way, and became the driving force to not only reopen the college, but to grow it into a small, liberal 4 year college. Lawrence Lewis was gifted in finance and had the gumption to make things happen. Lawrence Lewis was able to funnel to the college, millions of dollars through foundations, family money and his own personal funds. This insured that the college would have funds for new construction, restoration projects, endowment and various other programs, that helped Flagler College to become a continued success in offering a top-notch higher education to students. Lawrence Lewis was on the governing board to make sure things were managed correctly. Over the years, the college has spent more than $43 million dollars restoring the historic campus, as well as constructing new buildings and athletic fields to meet the needs of the students.
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
Stories are just that. Stories and personal accounts that have been reported about the location.
Henry Flagler was a very peculiar man he had his own set of beliefs that he followed religiously. Every room in the Ponce de Leon is in fact different, no two are exactly alike. Also it is reported that as the tilers were finishing the tile in the main hall one of his associates made the innocent comment of it being 'perfect'. In response Flagler moved a tile commenting 'only God is perfect'. It is with this tile that our tale begins.
Upon his death Flagler requested that all the windows and doors be opened to allow his spirit to leave for the afterlife. During his funeral a wandering janitor of his closed all the doors and windows, the opposite of what was stated by Flagler. Suddenly a gust of wind enters the auditorium, Flagler's spirit. As the spirit rushed for the exit to beat the janitor the last window was slammed trapping it inside. Bouncing off of one of the windows the spirit landed in one tile, the tile stated above. Till this day you can see a picture of Henry Flaglers face in that tile. In the late 60's a student in Flagler College invited Henry for a visit in his room, he has been haunting the place and messing with students ever since.
Flaglers second wife Ida Alice Flagler is said to also haunt the hotel. Mrs. Ida was not the most mentally stable person. Though committed to a sanatorium she did not gain any health and ranting constantly at the walls. She eventually died of consumption, which is an older name for modern day Tuberculosis due to the fact that it consumes its victims. Now she haunts the the school wandering around and staring at the many paintings past and present as well as the beautiful ceilings. It is stated that she knew of the many affairs that her husband ensnared himself in and this drove her mad. She is seen at times staring at a place in the wall where a large painting of Flagler himself stood. One of those mistresses also died and haunts in the hotel.
The mistress usual room was the on the 4th floor in a large ornate room almost completed covered in mirrors. This room was in fact a psychomantium, a room designed to alter ones mood but also to contact the dead. Upon a surprise visit by Mrs. Ida Alice Flagler, Henry in a bit of a pickle locked her in the room to keep the two from having one of those awkward meetings. Well this happened so much and so often the poor girl started to slowly go mad staring at herself in a room full of mirrors. As time went on the thoughts turned suicidal and eventually she hung herself from a chandelier in the room.
Fast forward to today. The 4th floor is needed for space and is currently used for storing sports equipment. But it used to house students that had to be moved due to the alleged throwing of things off walls, screams heard from the mirror room itself and also other frightening ghostly activity.
The two guests that haunt the hotel are more of a mystery than the first three we have described. One is a women in blue that haunts due to sadness. Legend has it that she was a mistress of someone staying at the hotel. The plan was for the man to divorce his wife and marry her. This was also complicated by the fact she was also pregnant. When her love refused to follow through his plan she ran up the stairs crying, tripped on her dress and fell and broke her neck.
The other ghost is actually a small boy. The legends vary on him as he is unknown to many. There are two stories, one is he died in the hotel due to some disease in the early part of this century. Another is that he was actually a relative of a college student charged to watch him. He fell to his death from a balcony because the college student was not.
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
"When I was a freshmen, I lived in the dorms. One night while I was sleeping, my roommate said that she saw someone standing at the foot of my bed all in black. I wore a lot of black clothes so she assumed it was me and tried to get my attention. She said that the figure didn't move, didn't react to her talking, she just kept looking at me. From that moment forward, until I moved out of the dorms, this lady all in black just stood in the corner across from my bed. She never bothered me or made anything happen, but she always stared at me when I was sleeping/falling asleep at night."'
"One time I was giving a Legacy tour in the Flagler room. I was giving a life summary of Henry Flagler. Every time I said his name, the lights would flicker. A guest pointed this out to me, so I said his name one more time. As I said his name, the light above his painting went out. Guests were so scared they actually walked out of the tour."
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
I went to Flagler College in St. Augustine for a while in 2007. I stayed on the third floor in room 300. As some may know, the dorms there were once a famous hotel that had a cherished past.
The third floor was the workers floor where employees would live during their work at the hotel.
I shared my room with two other girls who never seemed to experience the things that I did, but I KNOW that what I experienced was real.
At night, when we were all quiet and in bed, I would hear a typewriter an old one like an Underwood. It would type for about an hour between midnight and 1am. The weird thing was the sound seemed to move throughout the room, and the smell of burning tobacco (which was a huge no-no in the dorms) would waft along with it. It wouldn't *ting* when it got to the end of the line, but you could hear someone push it back. That occurred the entire semester, and while it never interfered with us, it was still enough to give me a start in the beginning.
We shared a bathroom for the room, which was rare as many girls on the floor had to use a community shower. About once every couple of weeks, I would be in there, usually around 10 in the morning when my roommates had gone to class, and the door sounded as if it opened and closed. The shower had a glass door, so I knew that no one had entered. When the door would close I would hear a toolbox set on the floor and a man groan as if he was getting on his knees. You know, like your Dad does? The next thing would be the whistling. It was always the same tune, very upbeat and just like something you would whistle while you work.
These two experiences seemed Residual, as they never interfered with us and therefore I wasn't afraid to shower in front of this man.
The only thing that scared me into shivers was a morning in November when I was showering and the door seemed to slam and suddenly, the light burned out. Now, everyone knew that you are probably most vulnerable in the shower. I was petrified! I jumped out of the shower, ran the 12 or so feet to the door and ran out in my towel! I quickly threw on a t-shirt and ran outside to the rotunda where all the lights were on and no one seemed frantic about a blackout.
It never happened again, but it was enough for me. If you want a semi-active night, go sleep in room 300 in Ponce Hall.
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
Unfortunately, in the year of 1895, a serious case of yellow fever developed and began to spread around the region. On top of this complication, Florida experienced one of the worst winters ever. The freeze was so intense that many individuals simply could not travel to St. Augustine to visit, or simply lacked the interest to do so because of the harsh weather conditions. Then, in later years, The Great Depression occurred. Despite the economic challenges of that time period, the hotel was able to remain open. It did experience quite a bit of success, but not for very long. By the time the 1940s arrived, tourists were not traveling to the city very often. By the end of the 1960s, the beautifully designed hotel was forced to close due to the financial strain that it was under. Despite the failure associated with the hotel, no one at the time knew it would eventually become known as one of the most haunted Florida locations on the Atlantic, or that it would be considered one of the most haunted schools worldwide. There are many school spirits that are said to haunt this college. Today, Flagler College St. Augustine is in full operation as a college.
Added by: sdonley on 08/13/2017
Here are the paranormal claims for this location. These have been found through Internet research, reports from members, or reports from personal interviews. To add a claim, please contact PANICd.com, and we will review and add your information.
|Claim #||Added||Added By||Claim|
|2528||08/13/2017||sdonley||The apparition of a women has been seen hanging from the chandler in the fourth floor mirror room. This is where and how she actually committed her suicide.|
|2529||08/13/2017||sdonley||Many claim to see the face of Henry Flagler peering back at them from one of the tiles on the floor.|
|2530||08/13/2017||sdonley||The apparition of Henry Flagler has been reported throughout all of the buildings on campus. As if he was still around keeping an eye on things.|
|2531||08/13/2017||sdonley||Many claim to see the apparition of a pregnant women dressed in blue. She tripped over her blue dress when she was leaving the hotel and fell down the steps to her death.|
|2532||08/13/2017||sdonley||A student reported hearing a typewriter late at night as if an author was working on a very important manuscript. It would type constantly until the wee hours of the morning. May not sound strange for a college; however, she reported that they typewriter sounded like an old vintage one with the bell that signaled you to manually hit the carriage return. You normally don't hear that on a computer.|
|2533||08/13/2017||sdonley||A student reported that sometimes when she was in the shower, she would hear what sounded like a worker come in, sit down his tool box, kneel down on the floor, and whistle as tune as if he was going to work. When she looked out of the shower, there was nobody there.|
Paranormal evidence is based on claims that have been reported for this location. There can be several types of evidence; however, we have grouped them based on media type for better organization. Here you will find evidence that are logs, audio, video, or photographic.
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This is a collection of Internet resources for this location. This section will house links to other websites that contain information related to history, claims, investigations, or even the location's website.
Added: 02/16/2015 By: sdonley
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