Flagler celebrating 125th anniversary of Ponce with year of events

By Tiffanie Reynolds | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Flagler College’s 125th anniversary of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon didn’t begin and end on Jan. 12, but will be celebrated on campus all year.

Laura Stevenson, director of the 125th celebration and College Relations, says that besides the “opening day” celebration, which was on the same day that the hotel opened 125 years ago, year long programs such as Flagler College Community Lecture Series and Ideas and Images will be focused more on the Ponce de Leon Hotel in honor of its anniversary.

“Just from the very beginning to when it closed, there was just so many different stories along the way,” says Stevenson.

The celebration took a year and a half to plan out, first with just the board of trustees and College Relations but then expanding to include other departments as well. Among these collaborations is with Chris Balashack’s Art History 2 class.

Last spring, it became the class’ project to find background information on the paintings in the Flagler Room. Not only finding the information, but finding the correct information became the most difficult challenge. There was very little information on the artists to begin with, and most of the information provided for the class by the college was wrong.

“The students really had to dig into these materials,” says Balashack.

What became the best source of information was auction records. These records not only provided students with a complete biography, but also provided images from the artist’s other paintings. This gave the students an excellent base to comment on the artist’s particular style and form.

The completed biographies were printed on the informational pamphlet handed out during the opening day celebration.

2013 is also the year that the college will celebrate its own 45th anniversary. In September, the program will shift to focus on the history of Flagler College, and the changes it has gone through. There will be a day long celebration in September, followed by other events that connect to larger events in the city, such as Night of Lights in November.

“If it weren’t for Flagler College, we wouldn’t be celebrating the hotel. It would have been gone,” says Stevenson.

4,000 visitors walked through the front gates for the “opening day” celebration, and Stevenson hopes these events will keep visitors on campus all year long.

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