Once a majestic hotel developed, owned, and run by Henry Flagler, Flagler College was transformed into one of the grandest spectacles of modern liberal arts. Big, bombastic, and full of historical richness, Flagler College is a currently active college in the heart of St. Augustine.
It scales over the sky- and you can see it for yourself. What do you need to know about Flagler College for your next family vacation to the breezy ancient city?
The Ponce de Leon Hotel
Flagler College is a small collective of about 3,000 art students with frequent events throughout the year, but it’s the building itself that serves as the main attraction.
Railroad developer, Henry Flagler, created the Hotel Ponce de Leon as a Renaissance and Spanish-inspired high-luxury hotel for business guests and friends in 1888.
Throughout the decades, notable hotel guests included former presidents, Babe Ruth, and Mark Twain. The Ponce de Leon Hotel became many leading masters of the arts and business world’s introduction to St. Augustine.
The building amassed a distinct name for itself with a number of “firsts.” It was one of the first electrified buildings of any kind, powered by the Edison Electric Company. It was the first building constructed entirely of poured concrete.
The pinnacle of the hotel’s success lasted roughly 50 years, but declining visitors and a Civil Rights upheaval at the hotel’s footsteps caused it to shut down in 1967.
It took only a year for a group of ambitious arts professionals to deem the site the centerpiece of Flagler College. It is now registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Flagler College officials place high emphasis on supporting the historical beauty of the hotel by redirecting funds to historical preservation and building the Flagler Legacy program to support educational group tours through the college.
Historic Flagler College Tours
One of the main attractions for guests to St. Augustine is to see the inside of the hotel and the surrounding courtyard. It is beyond majestic, walking you through the interior of the breathtaking Spanish Renaissance architecture and taking you to the 68-foot domed ceiling.
The dining room boasts 79 Louis Comfort Tiffany Stained Glass windows with illuminating and inspiring handmade crystal chandeliers and some of the original hotel furniture.
Flagler College is a popular destination for ghost tours. The ghost tours that stop by Flagler College are not associated with the college. But the tours offer an eerie and introspective look into a different side of the college you won’t get on an afternoon guided tour.
Ghost tours share stories of haunts from only a few years ago, as some students have mysteriously refused to go back into certain buildings after sightings. The college passively acknowledges these stories, but only with ghost tours in St. Augustine can you realize the extent of the area’s haunted nature.
There are two main ghost tour providers in the city. They are the Ghosts and Gravestones Tours (27 San Marco Ave, St. Augustine, FL 32084) and the Ghost Tours of St. Augustine (4 Granada St, St. Augustine, FL 32084).
Not every individual tour stops at Flagler College, but some will gather in the courtyard after dark for stories about the hotel and college’s historical spooks.
You saw it in pictures. Now you can see it for real. Flagler College is magnificent and filled with pleasures to see.
Visitors seeking a potential education at Flagler College can receive education-based tours during weekdays. Specific education tours must be scheduled online.
Stop by the college’s main lobby at 74 King St, St. Augustine, FL 32084 to jump on a tour of one of the city’s grandest castles, a glimpse of a cultural Renaissance in the country’s oldest city.
Tour tickets are $10 per adult and $1 for children under 12. Tickets can be purchased at either the main lobby of Flagler College or at the Flagler Legacy Store.
This store is located at 59 St. George Street and it offers merchandise and memorabilia on Flagler College. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 pm.
Tickets can be purchased up to 20 minutes prior to a tour. Tours are usually at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day, with some exceptions for holidays and weekends.
Our resort rentals are located within a 20-minute drive of Flagler College, and they offer extensive amenities and a location right on the beach.