“Presents new information about the creation and construction of the Hotel Ponce de Leon, its eighty years as a luxury resort hotel, and its transformation into the centerpiece of Flagler College. Keys does an excellent job of capturing the historical, cultural, and even political themes that were part of the hotel’s development and its adaptation for use as a four-year college.”—William T. Abare, Jr., president, Flagler College
“Keys’s monumental work documenting the creation and evolution of ‘The Ponce’ and its role in the Florida tourist industry and as the home of Flagler College is impressive. This is an important addition to those interested in heritage tourism and historic preservation and their impact on this nation.”—Ted Ligibel, co-author of Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles and Practices
“In this richly detailed account, Keys deftly traces the metamorphosis of Hotel Ponce de Leon from exclusive hostelry to community icon to symbol of the grandest designs of a gilded age. Here is the last word on the first resort.”—Les Standiford, author of Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean
“Chronicles the architectural and community history of one of America’s greatest buildings.”—Dana Ste. Claire, author of Cracker: The Cracker Culture in Florida History
Henry Flagler’s opulent Hotel Ponce de Leon drew worldwide praise from the day its elaborately carved doors opened in 1888. Built in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style, the architectural and engineering marvel featured the talents of a team of renowned artisans, including the designs of architects John Carrère, Thomas Hastings, and Bernard Maybeck, electricity by Thomas Edison, and interior decoration and stained glass windows by Louis Tiffany.
Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace is the first work to present the building’s complete history and detail its transformation into the heart of Flagler College. Leslee Keys, who assisted in the restoration, recounts the complicated construction of the hotel—the first major structure to be built entirely of poured concrete—and the efforts to preserve it and restore it to its former glory. The methods used at Flagler College have been recognized as best practices in historic preservation and decorative arts conservation, and today the campus is one of Florida’s most visited heritage tourism destinations.
Leslee F. Keys is director of historic preservation and assistant professor of history at Flagler College.