Stop and smell the history


Photo: Katie Garwood

By Katie Garwood |

I see it everyday.

Students rushing into D-Hall with one thing on their mind: Food.

On most college campuses, where dining halls are glorified high school cafeterias, this behavior is OK. But most college dining halls aren’t National Historic Landmarks and don’t have Tiffany stained glass windows or thousands of tourists passing through it each year.

Visitors from all over traipse through the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, gazing at the ceilings, snapping pictures of just about everything they see and taking full advantage of their time in our boring old residence and dining hall.

We see tourists mostly as inconveniences to our daily routine. Why is that? Is it because they block our path to class? Probably. But think about why they are there in the first place. It’s because our college campus is filled with history and beauty that attracts people from all over the country, and even the globe, to come see it. I think that makes us pretty lucky.

Just last month, King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain came to St. Augustine and dined at Flagler College in the Solarium and in our own dining hall. How many colleges can say their campus is actually fit for royalty?

So, if our campus is so magnificent, why do students rush through it on a daily basis and not stop to take it in? Maybe it’s because it’s 8:58 a.m. and you have a 9 a.m. in Pollard Hall, but I can guarantee you that taking 5 seconds out of your day to look up at the ceiling in Ponce or D-Hall will not make a difference in you making it to your class on time.

In the last week, I saw a troop of Boy Scouts amble their way to the entrance of D-Hall. If they find time to make their way all the way from the middle of the wilderness and pull themselves away from their busy day of knot-tying and fire safety lessons to to look around the centerpiece of our campus and the oldest city in America, so can any student.


Photo: Katie Garwood

Take time out of your day to look at the place you’re in, whether it be in D-Hall or passing through Ponce. It doesn’t even have to be everyday if you’re concerned about not having a few seconds each day to look at the architectural masterpiece that houses your college. Come to appreciate Ponce Hall, because if it weren’t here, neither would Flagler College and everything you’ve gained from being here.

In a few years, if you’re living in Ponce, you won’t be anymore. For some, that may sound fantastic—no more sharing a room, dealing with noisy neighbors and nearly freezing to death every night. But do keep in mind what losses come with that. You can no longer say you live in a National Historic Landmark. You no longer live in a place where famous guests like Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth and Mark Twain once stayed.

So, make the most of your time staying in Ponce Hall, eating in D-Hall and just being in St. Augustine. Take time to gaze at the artwork that covers the ceilings of the Ponce rotunda and the dining hall, because at most colleges, this wouldn’t even be an option.

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