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Visit the Opulent Hotel Alcazar
Florida

Visit the Opulent Hotel Alcazar

For anyone visiting Florida for the first time, the state unfolds itself as a place of natural beauty and historical intrigue with something to delight guests of every age and interest. America’s sunshine state wasn’t always the go to vacation destination as it is today.

Perhaps Florida owes most of its destiny to the legendary tycoon Henry Flagler who spent years of his life transforming Florida and selling it as one of the best places to go on vacation. The late nineteenth century in America was a time of prosperity and optimism. As industrialization swept across the country numerous fortunes were made seemingly overnight. To go along with their vast fortunes the newly wealthy were looking for new places to stay and spend some of their new found wealth.

Hotel Alcazar in St. Augustine

After completion of his Florida East Coast Railway, Henry Flagler set to work on creating luxurious resorts for wealthy families to stay all over the state. One of the surviving examples of these elegant places was the Hotel Alcazar in St. Augustine. The beautiful resort was constructed in the Spanish Renaissance Revival Style and included several amenities including a gym, Turkish steam room, a three story ballroom, and one of the largest indoor swimming pools. The hotel brought in generations of  wealthy patrons from all over the country until 1932 when its doors would close in the wake of the Great Depression. Although the depression marked a definitive end to an era, the 1930s was a decade that brought with it its own form of economic innovation.

Lightner Hobby Museum

One of the key innovators of the time was Chicago publisher Otto C Lightner who created Hobby magazine. Lightner had a fascination with collecting and helped spark the trend that still continues to this day. Needing space to house some of his vast collection, Lightner purchased the abandoned Hotel Alcazar in 1947 and transformed it into the Lightner Hobby Museum. The old halls and rooms of the luxurious hotel were transformed into exhibits housing all kinds of unique collections and odd curiosities. The rooms were meant to inspire visitors to start their own collections and marvel at some amazing treasures from all over the world. The Lightner Hobby Museum includes numerous Victorian artifacts including paintings and intricate hand blown glass pieces as well as curiosities such as Native American artifacts, a mummy, and even a shrunken head. Perhaps one of the biggest draws of the museum is the numerous works of stained glass Lightner painstakingly collected during his life. Some of the pieces were salvaged from buildings about to be demolished and antique pieces from legendary glass craftsman Louis Comfort Tiffany. Although the old churches and old buildings have long since been demolished as you wander through the exhibit of glass, you can’t help but wonder what some of the old buildings the pieces were once a part of during their prime.

St. Augustine is one of Florida’s most historically important places and one of the oldest cities in the United States. If you choose to join us for our CME CEC conference in St. Augustine this year, the amazing Hotel Alcazar is one of the most interesting places to visit. Whether you’re a collector yourself or are simply in the mood to gaze at some beautiful antiques, don’t miss your chance to visit this truly amazing place.


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