St. Augustine City Hall & Lightner Museum
|Location||75 King Street
Saint Augustine, Florida
|Built||1887 (museum opened 1948)|
|Architect||Carrère and Hastings|
|Architectural style||Spanish Renaissance Revival.|
|NRHP Reference #||71001013|
|Added to NRHP||February 24, 1971|
The Lightner Museum is a museum of antiquities, mostly American Victorian era pieces, housed within a historic Hotel Alcazar building in downtown St. Augustine, St. Johns County, northeastern Florida.
The museum occupies three floors of the former Hotel Alcazar, commissioned by Henry M. Flagler to appeal to wealthy tourists who traveled south for the winter on his railroad.
- Fort Mose
The Hotel Alcazar site had previously been the bed of Maria Sanchez Creek, and to provide fill dirt to raise the creek bed, Flagler purchased a farm north of town and had his crews dig it up and move the earth downtown. The farm was the site of the first Fort Mose, the pioneer free black settlement dating back to 1738 that was the northern defense of St. Augustine and that is today recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Many of the archaeological remains of this first Fort Mose (which had been destroyed in 1740) are located underneath what is today the Lightner Museum and St. Augustine City Hall.
It was built in 1887, from the design of New York City architects Carrère and Hastings, in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style. The firm also designed the Ponce de León Hotel across the street (now part of Flagler College). Both buildings are notable as being among the earliest examples of poured concrete buildings in the world. These architects later designed the New York Public Library and the U.S. Senate office building.
The hotel boasted a steam room, massage parlor, gymnasium, and sulfur baths, a three-storey ballroom, and the world's largest indoor swimming pool.
However, after years as an elegant winter resort for wealthy patrons, the hotel closed in 1932. In 1946, Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner purchased the building to house his extensive collection of Victoriana. He opened the museum two years later, and later donated it to the city of St. Augustine.
The Museum is housed in the former health facilities of the hotel, including the spa and Turkish bath, and in its three-storey ballroom.
The museum's first floor houses a Victorian village, with shop fronts representing emporia selling period wares; a Victorian Science and Industry Room displays shells, rocks, minerals, and Native American artifacts in beautiful turn-of-the-20th-century cases, as well as stuffed birds, a small Egyptian mummy, model steam engines, elaborate examples of Victorian glassblowing, golden elephant bearing the world on its back, and a shrunken head; and a Music Room, filled with mechanized musical instruments—including player pianos, reproducing pianos, orchestrions, and others—dating from the 1870s through the 1920s.
The second floor contains examples of cut glass, Victorian art glass and stained glass work of Louis Comfort Tiffany's studio. The third floor, in the ballroom's upper balcony, exhibits paintings, sculpture, and furniture, include a grande escritoire created for Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, in the period 1806-1810.
- Ossman, Laurie; Ewing, Heather (2011). Carrère and Hastings, The Masterworks. Rizzoli USA. ISBN 9780847835645.
- Media related to Lightner Museum at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- "Florida's Smithsonian"[dead link]
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. FL-168, "Alcazar Hotel, 75 King Street, Saint Augustine, St. Johns County, Florida", 8 photos, 6 data pages, 1 photo caption page