Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Flagler College in St. Augustine: the Tiffany connection

We visited this wonderful building that began its life in 1888 as a lavish hotel built by Henry Flagler, one of the founders of Standard Oil, and now houses Flagler College.
It is such a beautiful old building and in it we saw:
these fabulous Tiffany chandeliers...
on a spectacular painted and embossed ceiling in one of the hotel's drawing rooms.  I apologize for the quality of the indoor photos -- it was quite dark in the building.
I had to laugh at these painted cherubs on the ceiling...
and the way their ribbony robes encircle the chandelier mount!
This large clock over the mantle is special because it's a Thomas Edison clock and because it is made from one piece of rare onyx.  We were told that Edison's "signature" on his clocks is the use of the incorrect Roman numeral "4".
But the most spectacular feature of the building is that Louis Comfort Tiffany himself made the stained glass windows.
Most of Tiffany's windows are in what is now the student's dining hall.  Yep -- send your kids to Flagler and they will eat surrounded by $130 million in Tiffany glass!
The chairs are also originals designed by Tiffany; although they have been reproduced, there are still originals sprinkled throughout the hall.
The walls and ceilings are spectacular examples of Gilded Age style.





The themes were nautical -- with ships and mermaids -- winged muses, and images of Spain to honor Ponce de Leon.
Another FABULOUS chandelier.
I wished I could get my hands on some of this ephemera from the height of the hotel's fame; it was, alas, under glass.
In the lobby: another spectacularly painted ceiling under a dome.  As you can see in this photo, we were each given a mirror to hold to be able to view the ceiling without straining our necks!
Would you believe this wonderful carved motif was on the the wall of the ladie's room?
And -- don't laugh -- this was the doorknob in said lavatory.  I couldn't resist photographing it!
 But I think I enjoyed the courtyard most of all.
Those dragon heads sticking out of the wall are not downspouts, but once held red glass light bulbs in their mouths.
At first I didn't care for the fountain's motif, until I learned that it was symbolic of Ponce de Leon's sword sticking up from the ground.  That makes it so much more interesting, doesn't it?  Around the fountain there are 12 frogs, representing the months of the year and 4 turtles -- one for each season.  No two of any of them are alike.
I was glad I insisted we take the tour -- Dennis and Ben weren't keen on the idea but by the end they were happy they'd gone.  It's funny how guys sometimes need to be reminded how fun it is to walk around and look at old stuff.
Edit: how funny that today Shorpy's published a photo of the hotel as it appeared in 1887.

8 comments :

Linda Sue said...

WOWIE What a beautiful place- gone are the days! I have looked at your photos fifty times this morning! GREAT and a little bit sad that this country has lost it's sense of art in ordinary places ( women's toilet). gorgeous everywhere and the windows OMG!

khess136 said...

You had me at the chandeliers!! But then there was the painted walls and ceilings and stained glass....amazing!! xoxox

Thistle Cove Farm said...

It is beautiful and I've always wanted to go to St. A.

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Oh WOW! What an amazing place...a mirror to look at the ceiling so you don't strain your neck? I noticed the 4 on the clock before I noticed what your wrote. So much beauty in one place. Thanks for sharing Laurie.

pam said...

Love the Angel's on the arches they are SO beautiful! Can I go back to school?! Now, I always roll my eyes when I hear people on their phones in the bathroom....but I probably would have cracked up if I heard a camera clicking away when I was in there....hope you were the only one because I can only imagine what people thought you were taking pictures of! HA!

Kathy said...

Oh, my gosh, I love places like that!! I am so glad you got to see it and so happy that you took photos to share. I love that there was a time when putting art into everyday art was important. Big sigh.

Marrianna said...

The college/hotel is amazing. I'm so glad you took the tour and got some great photos to share with all of us. What a beautiful place. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely to be a student or professor at that college? What a fantastic way to keep an old hotel alive and in use for education. Great photos!

Curtains in My Tree said...

Oh I so enjoyed this tour, everything is fabulous, the clock, the Tiffany windows, the fountain, love the courtyard fountain

makes me want to go see it

I found my $50 button LOL, will show it soon