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Alcazar Hotel restoration receives

top ranking by state committee

Grant approved for $350,000 targeted for roof restoration

St. Augustine projects did very well when funding applications for special category grants from the Division of Historical Resources were reviewed last week in Tallahassee. Of the sixteen projects from across the state reviewed by the seven-member Florida Historical Commission, appointed by the Governor and Secretary of State, all three applications from St. Augustine were approved. They are the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum’s shipwreck archeology exhibit, and restoration projects for both the Ximenez-Fatio House and the Alcazar Hotel, home to St. Augustine’s City Hall and the Lightner Museum.

The city’s application for the Alcazar Hotel restoration, built in 1888, seeks funds for the repair/ replacement of the building’s roof, specifically the barrel tile roof over the Lightner Museum portion of the building. The grant application was for $350,000 and will require a 50% match of $175,000 from the city. The commission ranked the city’s application for the Alcazar Hotel’s restoration as number one among the applications being considered.

The panel’s approval for funding is contingent on the legislature funding the Special Category Grant Projects. If approved, the funds will be available in the state’s fiscal year which begins July 1, 2014.

 

The entire restoration project for the Alcazar Hotel, of which the tiled roof is only a portion, includes replacing the remainder of the roof, sealing/waterproofing the exterior walls of the entire building and completing the replacement of the aluminum framed windows.

A team from St. Augustine traveled to Tallahassee to present and support the grant application, including Tim Fleming, the city’s General Services Deputy Director, Nancy Sikes-Kline, St. Augustine’s Vice Mayor; John Regan, City Manager; Dana Ste. Claire, St. Augustine’s 450th Commemoration Director and from the Lightner Museum were Robert Harper, Museum Director, and Barry Myers, Museum Curator.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and the Ximenez-Fatio House applications were also approved for $350,000 each.

The Alcazar Hotel was one of two major hotels constructed by Henry Flagler in the late 1880s, and one of a number of magnificent buildings in the city which were constructed at the time and often credited with changing the face of St. Augustine and introducing a distinctive building style to the United States. The Alcazar Hotel currently houses St. Augustine’s City Hall, the Lightner Museum, several State of Florida agency offices and a variety of retail shops.

 

Hurricanes and tropical storms present a very real threat to buildings like the Alcazar Hotel which lack a secure exterior envelope. Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, Frances and Ivan in 2004, as well as Tropical Storm Barry in 2007, Tropical Storm Fay in 2008 and Tropical Storm Beryl in 2012 were detrimental to the building. Largely covered by the original roof that is now more than 125 years old, the Alcazar Hotel has experienced water damage to the ceiling materials, walls and floors from these weather events.

The entire restoration project for the Alcazar Hotel, of which the tiled roof is only a portion, includes replacing the remainder of the roof, sealing/waterproofing the exterior walls of the entire building and completing the replacement of the aluminum framed windows.

A team from St. Augustine traveled to Tallahassee to present and support the grant application, including Tim Fleming, the city’s General Services Deputy Director, Nancy Sikes-Kline, St. Augustine’s Vice Mayor; John Regan, City Manager; Dana Ste. Claire, St. Augustine’s 450th Commemoration Director and from the Lightner Museum were Robert Harper, Museum Director, and Barry Myers, Museum Curator.

St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum and the Ximenez-Fatio House applications were also approved for $350,000 each.

The hotel was closed in 1930, when the Great Depression struck and St. Augustine's tourist industry collapsed. Abandoned for more than a decade, it was purchased in the 1940s by Otto C. Lightner, a Chicago collector of antiques, who wanted the building to house his numerous collections. Mr. Lightner gave the building to the City of St. Augustine with the stipulation that it continue to serve that purpose. In 1971, the City decided to relocate its municipal offices to the building.

 

When city hall opened in the Alcazar Hotel on April 27, 1973, then St. Augustine City Commissioner James Lindsley described it as “the most beautiful, unique and majestic city hall in the Nation.” And while it is a challenge to keep the building fitting that accurate description, the city is committed to its preservation, and judging by the support of this recent application, so is the State of Florida.

The key restoration project has underscored the importance of historic preservation in the city and the lead stewardship role the city plays in protecting the cultural resources that define the character of St. Augustine. A principal goal of the city is to have the Alcazar Hotel nominated as a National Historic Landmark to complement its companion building, the Hotel Ponce de Leon (Flagler College), already designated a Landmark site.

For more information, contact the General Services Department at 904.825.1010.

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