Tuesday, November 30, 2010


St. Augustine, FL 29º53.153N | 81º18.319W

Ponce de Leon Hall under an unedited blue sky.      ©2010 Tammy Kennon
We took a tour of Flagler College today, where our friend Barb teaches. It did not fit any model I had in my head for "college campus," so I guess I learned something at school today.

The buildings here were the brainchild of Henry Flagler, who built them in 1888 as an exclusive resort for the ultra-wealthy. If you've never heard of Henry Flagler, you should read about him. Quite the colorful character and in part responsible for bringing civilization to Florida, for better or worse, depending on your philosophy.

Entrance gate to Flagler.
I can say this: The hotel he built in 1888 exceeds today's standards. I guess we just don't build things like this any more.

Ceiling in the student dining hall (!).
As I walked around gaping at the opulence of Ponce de Leon Hall, formerly the main hotel building, I wondered if the students have an appreciation for their surroundings, the gold leaf, the mammoth Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany) windows, the Greek revival columns and caryatids. I wondered if we learn better in a beautiful environment or do our otherwise bland, institutional settings offer fewer distractions?

Columns in the dining hall, formerly the ballroom.
I also wondered what it must have been like to be a pampered guest in the hotel, although at the current equivalent of a cool quarter of a million for the season, I'm quite sure I would never have known.

It's not hard to imagine my 1800s self rowing ashore in a derelict boat wearing foulies and inappropriate footwear, just like I did today. I'm guessing I would not have gotten beyond...

St. Augustine, FL 29º53.153N | 81º18.319W

Tiffany windows at Flagler College.  ©2010 Tammy Kennon
White onyx clock in the ladies lounge.

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