Recently while visiting Tom's father in Jacksonville, we drove over to St. Augustine, the US's oldest city. Being Florida natives, Tom and I had both been there countless times to see the old buildings, including the old fort, Castillo de San Marcos. This time our destination was the Lightner Museum.
The Lightner Museum is located in what was the Hotel Alcazar, a luxury hotel built in 1887, thanks to the efforts of Henry Flagler. Henry was John D. Rockefeller's partner in Standard Oil. He was very involved in real estate and railroad development. He became a key figure in the development of Florida's east coast and the founder of what later became the Florida East Coast Railway.
In 1887, at the advice of his doctor, Henry went to Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife Mary who was very ill. They really liked nearby St. Augustine, but there were no good hotels or transportation. Henry began building luxurious hotels, but he realized that a good transportation system was necessary in order for guests to get there. This is when he started building railroads along the east coast of Florida.
For many years, the wealthy enjoyed the Hotel Alcazar with its large pool, baths, steam and massage rooms, and gym. You can see old photographs of these rooms here. I'm not sure when the magnificent hotel closed, but in 1946 Chicago publisher, Otto C. Lightner purchased the building to house his large collection of mainly Victorian items. In 1948, he opened the doors of the Lightner Museum.