SAINT AUGUSTINE — Flagler College received two awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation at its 39th annual conference in St. Petersburg on May 19.
The former Hotel Ponce de Leon, a National Historic Landmark that serves as the centerpiece of the college, was awarded an Outstanding Achievement honor for Restoration and Rehabilitation.
In preparation for St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary and the Spanish royal visit in 2015, the college, with the help of state grants, completed more than $4 million in repairs to the Ponce. This included hand cleaning the coquina concrete walls and brick details, recasting ornamental terra cotta and repairing windows and doors. The elaborately-adorned, curved Dining Hall wings resplendent with their Tiffany stained glass windows set in a carved wood framework was painstakingly repaired and rebuilt.
Since 1971, Flagler College has invested more than $40 million on preservation or adaptation of its 20 historic properties, most of which has been provided through private gifts.
In addition to the Outstanding Achievement award, Dr. Leslee Keys, Flagler College’s director of Historic Preservation and Special Initiatives, was recognized in the Preservation Education/Media category for her 2015 book “Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace.”
Her book details the historic building’s transformation in 1968 from opulent Gilded Age hotel to the centerpiece of the new, private, liberal arts Flagler College. Last year she received the inaugural William L. Proctor Award for the best book published on St. Augustine from the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, and was recognized by the University of Florida with the first Distinguished Alumni Award in Historic Preservation.
“I am honored that the preservation story of the Hotel Ponce de Leon and Flagler College have been recognized and am fortunate to have been able to present that unique and rich history,” Keys said.
She has served on numerous committees, including the Hotel Ponce de Leon 125th Anniversary committee, the Flagler College 50th Anniversary Steering Committee and is a past president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.