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Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine

Thomas Graham

Publication Year: 2014

Arguably no man did more to make over a city—or a state—than Henry Morrison Flagler. Almost single-handedly, he transformed the east coast of Florida from a remote frontier into the winter playground of America’s elite.

Mr. Flagler’s St. Augustine tells the story of how one of the wealthiest men in America spared no expense in transforming the country’s “Oldest City” into the “Newport of the South.” He built railroads into remote areas where men feared to tread and erected palatial hotels on swampland. He funded hospitals and churches and improved streets and parks. The rich and famous flocked to his invented paradise.

In tracing Flagler’s life and 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 southward to Palm Beach, Miami, Key West, and finally Nassau. Graham also gives voice to the individuals 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 filed society columns in the newspapers.

Filled with fascinating details that bring the Gilded Age to life, this book will stand as the definitive history of Henry Flagler and his time in Florida.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

...Two monumental statues stand facing each other in downtown St. Augustine at opposite sides of a plaza once known as the Alameda. One is Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, who founded St. Augustine in 1565. He stands triumphantly, holding a sword in his hand and wearing the steel breastplate of a Spanish conquistador. The life of Pedro Menéndez...

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

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pp. 1-9

...The antique village of St. Augustine, Florida, was the birthplace of Andrew Anderson. Returning there after spending the Civil War years in his father’s former home, New York City, he found circumstances much changed. He entered Florida by way of Jacksonville, the river-crossing town that had fairly prospered before the war. Now it lay half...

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2. Visions of the Ancient City, 1869–1880

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pp. 10-20

...St. Augustine’s first big promoter with dreams of an extravagant future for Florida arrived in town in 1869. He was John F. Whitney, and he represented the prototype of the modern Florida land developer. Born a grandson of the famous Eli Whitney, the younger Whitney became an acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, William Cullen Bryant, and P. T. Barnum...

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3. The Private Henry Morrison Flagler, 1830–1883

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pp. 21-41

...In 1903 Henry Morrison Flagler concluded a letter of reply to John F. Forbes, president of Stetson University in Deland, Florida, with an admonition: “I note that the envelope containing your letter bore the imprint of the President’s office of the Stetson University. I think it would...

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4. Coming to Florida, 1883–1885

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pp. 42-55

...In December 1883 Henry and Alice Flagler traveled to Florida accompanied by John D. and Laura Rockefeller, taking trains southward to the end of the line in Jacksonville. At the station they were greeted by Dr. Andrew...

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5. Architects Carrère and Hastings, 1885

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pp. 56-72

...Having decided to build a hotel in St. Augustine, Flagler returned from New York in May 1885 to meet with Dr. Anderson and Franklin W. Smith, attend to the details of his property acquisitions, and sign the attendant legal documents. He brought with him an expert real...

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6. Remaking the Oldest City, 1885

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pp. 73-80

...During the summer of 1885, after Flagler had already purchased extensive tracts of land in St. Augustine and commenced serious planning for his hotel, his whole enterprise threatened to come unraveled when Dr. Anderson could not secure a clear title to the site of the hotel. By...

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7. First, Buy the Railroad, 1885–1886

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pp. 81-87

...During the formative years of Standard Oil, Henry Flagler had been the company’s railroad specialist, bargaining with various railroads in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York and negotiating contracts to secure the most favorable shipping rates for Standard’s products. In fact, the...

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8. Construction of the Ponce de Leon, 1885–1887

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pp. 88-100

...Henry Flagler was a man in a hurry to accomplish great things. Once he had decided to go ahead with his hotel scheme, he rushed to acquire the real estate needed for the hotel site and surrounding properties. Although he had been remarkably successful in acquiring what he wanted, the delays...

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9. Transforming St. Augustine, 1887

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pp. 101-124

...A new hotel did open in St. Augustine for the winter season in January 1887— Franklin W. Smith’s Casa Monica. However, this building represented just the first installment of the much larger hotel he envisioned. Smith erected his hotel...

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10. Electricity, Water, and Final Touches, 1887

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pp. 125-140

...While the architecture and gardens of the Hotel Ponce de Leon may have harkened back to the past, Flagler wanted the most up-to-date utilities for his hotel, including electricity. It was not the first place in Florida to enjoy electricity. That honor probably belongs to steamships...

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11. Opening Day, 1888

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pp. 141-184

...When the citizens of St. Augustine awakened on the morning of January 1, 1888, the long-awaited dawning of a new epoch in the history of the Ancient City at last was at hand. The celebrated Hotel Ponce de Leon, more than two years in the making, appeared ready to receive guests...

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12. Upstairs and Downstairs, 1888–1890

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pp. 185-217

...During the summer of 1888 Florida experienced a repeat of the previous year’s yellow fever scare—but this time with much more serious consequences. Warning signs of trouble began early in the year, in the dead of winter, when northern newspapers published stories...

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13. Memorial Church, 1890

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pp. 218-244

...Sometime in the closing days of 1889 Captain Henry Marcotte, U.S. Army retired, became the St. Augustine correspondent of the Florida Times-Union, the state’s foremost newspaper. A year later his wife Anna would assume editorial control of the St. Augustine News and, the year after...

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14. Hotel Life in Paradise, 1891

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pp. 245-264

...The 1891 season began at the Hotel Alcazar with a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. The Alcazar would have the early arrivers all to itself for a week longer than in previous years because Flagler decided to open the Ponce a week later than usual. Experience had shown...

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15. The Season in St. Augustine, 1892–1893

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pp. 265-292

...Anna Marcotte had something new for winter sojourners in the 1892 season: a sprightly little society magazine called the Tatler. She got the name from a copy of an eighteenth-century London coffee house gossip tabloid in Dr. Anderson’s library. Visitors tarrying in St. Augustine...

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16. After the Ball Is Over, 1893–1895

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pp. 293-324

...After the Ponce de Leon closed for the 1893 season the Flaglers remained at Kirkside for another ten days since Henry had some loose ends to tie up before departing north. Most evenings they entertained friends and business associates at dinner. Henry Plant passed through, and Flagler...

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17. On to Miami, 1896–1897

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pp. 325-350

...At the conclusion of the 1895 season Flagler had decided to abandon the practice of the past two years during which the Cordova had served as his number two hotel, while the Alcazar only provided rooms for the overflow from the other hotels. In the 1896 season the Alcazar...

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18. Into Caribbean Waters, 1897–1899

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pp. 351-378

...On October 23, 1897, Flagler, his secretary Jasper Salter, and James McGuire stood in the shipyards of the William Cramp Ship and Engine Company in Philadelphia to enjoy festivities surrounding the launching of the SS Miami, a steamer commissioned by Flagler specially for carrying passengers...

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19. Modern Times, 1900–1902

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pp. 379-410

...The modern era arrived in St. Augustine in 1900. It came rolling down Ribera Street in an automobile driven by John Bell of Yonkers, New York, who rented the Flagler-owned Swayne cottage on that street for the season. Like most new things in St. Augustine, this first motor-carriage immediately elicited some alarm and consternation. Fritchieff Monson...

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20. The Challenge of Key West, 1903–1906

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pp. 411-441

...The Flaglers returned to Florida during the second week of December 1902. Flagler wrote ahead to his chief lieutenant Joseph Parrott with specific instructions about his travel itinerary: he wanted to visit the freight docks at Mayport on the St. Johns River while passing through Jacksonville...

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21. Returning to St. Augustine, 1906–1911

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pp. 442-475

...During 1906 St. Augustine took two important steps in becoming a modern city: it acquired a municipal electric power plant and started laying track for a streetcar system. Up to this time only Flagler’s Ponce de Leon, Alcazar, and railway depot had enjoyed the benefits...

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22. Final Days, 1912–1913

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pp. 476-498

...Henry Flagler marked his eighty-second birthday very quietly in the Hotel Ponce de Leon. No party or dinner highlighted the day. A few close friends dropped by to wish him well, and a pile of letters and telegrams poured in to express good wishes. The next day he and his party...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 499-500

...For the better part of three years I spent many pleasant days reading blurry microfilm and scanning small type in old publications in the Research Library of the St. Augustine Historical Society. My constant companions and guides have been the very competent and knowledgeable...

Notes

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pp. 501-556

Bibliography

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pp. 557-564

Index

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pp. 565-585


E-ISBN-13: 9780813048963
E-ISBN-10: 0813048966
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813049373

Page Count: 640
Illustrations: 100 b/w illustrations
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Saint Augustine (Fla.) -- History.
  • Flagler, Henry Morrison, 1830-1913.
  • Florida -- History.
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