Mr. Flagler's St. Augustine

Mr. Flagler's St. Augustine

by Thomas Graham


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“From the tall spires of the Ponce de Leon Hotel and the Cathedral of St. Augustine to street pavers on the ground, Graham offers us a detailed account of Henry Flagler’s impact on St. Augustine in this genially written book.”—Susan Parker, director, St. Augustine Historical Society
“With verve and wit, Graham makes St. Augustine and a whole cast of historic characters come alive.”—Susan R. Braden, author of The Architecture of Leisure
“You can smell the orange blossoms, twirl around the ballroom floors, envy the gowns at the charity balls, revel in the gossip about the rich and famous, suffer with the poor and the disenfranchised, and thrill to the first blaze of electrical lights, the first automobiles and ‘hard’ roads, and the new sport of golf.”—Elsbeth K. Gordon, author of Heart and Soul of Florida
In the late 1800s, Henry Morrison Flagler walked away from Standard Oil, leaving the enormously successful company in the hands of John D. Rockefeller while he headed to Florida to pursue other interests. Flagler’s new venture would lead him to completely restructure the sleepy town of St. Augustine and transform Florida’s entire east coast.

This monumental biography tells the story of how one of the wealthiest men in America spared no expense to turn the country’s “Oldest City” into a highly desirable vacation destination for the rich. Upon arrival, Flagler found accommodations in St. Augustine to be inferior, so he set out to build the opulent Ponce de Leon Hotel, and thus began his endeavor to attract wealthy travelers to the small southern city. He funded hospitals and churches and improved streets and parks. He constructed railroads in remote areas where men feared to tread and erected palatial hotels on swampland. The rich and famous flocked to Flagler’s invented paradise. And he had the vision to stretch his new railroad southward, establishing hotels and accommodations along the way.

In tracing Flagler’s second career, Thomas Graham reveals much about the inner life of the former oil magnate and the demons that drove him to expand a coastal empire that eventually encompassed Palm Beach, Miami, Key West, and finally Nassau. Graham also gives voice to the individuals that history has forgotten: the women who wrote tourist books, the artists who decorated the hotels, the black servants who waited tables, and the journalists who penned society columns for the newspapers.

Arguably no man did more to make over a city—or a state—than Flagler. Almost single-handedly, he transformed Florida from a remote frontier into the winter playground of America’s elite. Filled with fascinating details that bring the Gilded Age to life, Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine provides an authoritative look at an intriguing man and a captivating time in American history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813049373
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 735,649
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Thomas Graham is professor emeritus of history at Flagler College. He is the author of several books including Flagler’s St. Augustine Hotels and The Awakening of St. Augustine.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Dr. Anderson of St. Augustine, 1839-1880 1

2 Visions of the Ancient City, 1869-1880 10

3 The Private Henry Morrison Flagler, 1830-1883 21

4 Coming to Florida, 1883-1885 42

5 Architects Carrere and Hastings, 1885 56

6 Remaking the Oldest City, 1885 73

7 First, Buy the Railroad, 1885-1886 81

8 Construction of the Ponce de Leon, 1885-1887 88

9 Transforming St. Augustine, 1887 101

10 Electricity, Water, and Final Touches, 1887 125

11 Opening Day, 1888 141

12 Upstairs and Downstairs, 1888-1890 185

13 Memorial Church, 1890 218

14 Hotel Life in Paradise, 1891 245

15 The Season in St. Augustine, 1892-1893 265

16 After the Ball Is Over, 1893-1895 293

17 On to Miami, 1896-1897 325

18 Into Caribbean Waters, 1897-1899 351

19 Modern Times, 1900-1902 379

20 The Challenge of Key West, 1903-1906 411

21 Returning to St. Augustine, 1906-1911 442

22 Final Days, 1912-1913 476

Acknowledgments 499

Notes 501

Bibliography 557

Index 565

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