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Flagler College's Hotel Ponce de Leon Architecture Collection

Identifier: MS Group 311

Scope and Content

The collection consists of over 200 architectural drawings, blueprints and related material for the Hotel Ponce de Leon dating from about 1886 to 1963. In addition to original pencil drawings and blueprints, there are ink on linen drawings and other types of prints such as Vandyke prints, diazotype prints, and miscellaneous printed materials. Many of the blueprints are working copies that contain notes, corrections and changes in pencil, pen, and red and blue grease pencil. A number of the drawings have hand applied color. Sizes range from 8x8 inches to over 4x8 feet.

There are 217 drawings or related items in the collection. Many drawings have multiple copies and some of the drawings are in multiple pieces (e.g., a large drawing that had been cut into three sections). There are over 460 individual sheets in the collection. Most of the drawings include formal titles, and some include handwritten notations describing the content or purpose of the drawing. Whenever a drawing includes a formal title, the title is included with quotation marks in the description of the drawing.

The drawings are organized in several groups: 1) Architectural Drawings of Hotel Ponce de Leon; 2) Plans for Sewers on the Property of Henry Flagler; 3) Plans for Hotel Ponce de Leon as converted for Coast Guard use (United States Coast Guard Training Station); 4) Architectural Drawings of the Hotel Alcazar; and 5) Miscellaneous Drawings and Maps Related to the Properties of Henry Flagler and the Florida East Coast Hotel Company (including the Hotel Ponce de Leon).

The large majority of the drawings are in the first group: Architectural Drawings of Hotel Ponce de Leon. These drawings include original floor plans from the 1880s and 1890s, as designed by Carrère & Hastings. Other floor plans document renovations completed by McGuire & McDonald in the early decades of the 20th Century, particularly in 1909 and 1924. The drawings are primarily floor plans; there are a small number of sections, elevations and detail drawings. There are numerous drawings relating to the dining room and the dining room windows. Several drawings from the 1930s document the installation of sprinklers, and a series of drawings from 1947 document work related to elevators in the hotel. This group also includes property maps and a drawing of a proposed cascade that was intended for the property.

The second group, Plans for Sewers on the Property of Henry Flagler, includes drawings of sewer lines and proposed sewer lines on and around the Flagler's property. In addition to the Hotel Ponce de Leon, the Hotel Cordova and the Hotel Alcazar are also referenced in the drawings. The third group include drawings that date from 1943-1944 and document how the Hotel Ponce de Leon was converted for use by the U.S. Coast Guard as a training station. The fourth group includes four drawings for the Hotel Alcazar. The fifth and final group includes drawings and maps relating to Flagler's properties in Florida. In addition to the Hotel Ponce de Leon, this group also includes a drawing relating to the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church and a map of Florida East Coast Hotel Property in Palm Beach, Florida.


  • 1886-1963
  • Majority of material found within 1886-1924



The collection is available for research. However, due to the extremely fragile nature of the drawings, researchers are asked to use digital reproductions available online at

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1885 multi-millionaire industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913) initiated a grand scheme to turn Florida's east coast into the "American Riviera" and the city of St. Augustine into the "Winter Newport." The Hotel Ponce de Leon, which was constructed in 1885-1887, was intended as the flagship of Flagler's resort empire. This palatial Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel, with Italian, French and Moorish influences, was the first major commission for the Carrère & Hastings architecture firm.

John M. Carrère (1858-1911) and Thomas Hastings (1860-1929) were American architects of the late-19th and early-20th centuries who specialized in Beaux Arts architecture. The Carrère & Hastings firm designed more than 600 buildings, including the New York Public Library (1902-11) and the U.S. House and Senate Office Buildings in Washington, D.C. (1908-09). They were partners from 1885 until Carrère died in 1911. Hastings continued to practice, managing the firm until he died in 1929.

The Hotel Ponce de Leon opened in 1888 and was operated by Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Hotel Company. Nationally significant for both its architecture and engineering, the building is the first large cast-in-place concrete building in the U.S. The hotel was constructed using poured concrete mixed with local coquina. The design reflected the wealth and extravagance of the upper-class during the Gilded Age. Members of the design team included Louis Comfort Tiffany, Thomas Edison, Bernard Maybeck, George Willoughby Maynard, and Pottier & Stymus. The firm of McGuire & McDonald was hired to supervise construction of the Hotel.

The Hotel was operation for almost 80 years. During World War II the building was used as a Coast Guard Training Center. Hotel operations ceased in 1967, and in 1968 the hotel became part of the campus for the newly established Flagler College as Ponce de Leon Hall. The building was added to the National Register in 1975 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

In addition to the Hotel Ponce de Leon, Flagler commissioned the Carrère & Hastings firm to design several other projects in St. Augustine. The Grace Methodist Church was constructed in 1886-1887 (National Register 1979). The Hotel Alcazar, now known as the Lightner Building was constructed in 1888-1889 (National Register 1971). The Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1889-1890 (National Register 1983). Flagler's private residence, Kirkside, was constructed in 1893.

Sources: Leslee Keys, Flagler College, "Historical Background on the Hotel Ponce de Leon", 2011. Susan R. Braden, The Architecture of Leisure: The Florida Resort Hotels of Henry Flagler and Henry Plant, 2002.


28.25 Linear feet (217 items (460 pages))

Language of Materials



Architectural drawings, blueprints and related material for the Hotel Ponce de Leon (now Ponce de Leon Hall at Flagler College) in St. Augustine, Florida. The hotel was designed by the Carrère & Hastings firm. The collection also includes items related to other buildings constructed and operated by Henry M. Flagler and the East Coast Hotel Company.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Custodial History

The majority of these drawings had been presumed lost for decades. The drawings had been stored, wrapped in unmarked rolls, in a basement boiler room in the building. Unfortunately, their significance was not realized by the few people of knew of their existence. In 2004, the drawings were rediscovered by staff members of Flagler College.

Acquisition Information

In 2005 Flagler College placed the collection on deposit at the University of Florida.

Alternate Form of Material

The items in this collection have been digitized and are available via the Carrère & Hastings Digital Collection page in the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). The items were digitized with the generous support of a Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to the links that are provided throughout this guide to the collection, all materials can be searched or browsed at the Carrère & Hastings Digital Collection page.

Related Material

The University of Florida also holds Carrère & Hastings drawings for the Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine. Flagler College holds materials pertaining to the history of the Hotel Ponce de Leon, Henry Flagler, and the East Coast Hotel Company.

Processing Notes

All arrangement and description activities, conservation treatments, and digital imaging were completed in 2011-12 with generous support of a Save America's Treasures grant. Many of the drawings include original numbers (e.g., "Plan No. 4") and it is possible that the drawings may have been arranged in order within discrete sets. However, the severe deterioration of multiple drawings resulted in the loss of identifying numbers and it was impossible to accurately discern the original order of the drawings. The order that currently exists is an artificial order imposed by archivists at the University of Florida. Similar drawings were grouped together based on subject, format, or date. Similarly, the numbers assigned to the drawings are not original numbers used by the creators of the drawings. These numbers were assigned during processing of the collection.

A Guide to Flagler College's Hotel Ponce de Leon Architecture Collection
Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
April 2012
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.
Digitization funded with the generous support of a Save America's Treasures grant.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America