For years we have told you of plethora of unique and singular sights, sounds, and events that only St Augustine Florida can deliver, and today’s article shows you that we have only scratched the surface. We are going to an attic party! That’s right, we are going to be two of the 100 people lucky enough to attend a fund raiser in one of the best attics in America, the Lightner Museum’s attic to be specific, for an event they call, The Hidden Lightner.
The Lightner museum has got to be one of the best collections of collections in the country. Writer/Publisher Otto Lightner was famous for his Hobby magazine that became a very popular publication that flourished during the depression. This was a time that, while he was very successful, others in Chicago had to sell off valuables to raise money to get by. Otto disliked seeing these collections being broken apart and sold off at auction; collections that took a life-time to bring together were being cast to the 4 winds in only a day. So when he got the opportunity to purchase collections intact, he would. And he finally opened a museum. He built his first museum in Chicago when he purchased the mansion behind his own and connected them by building a gallery between them, and in 1934 it open to the public. Because of his health, in 1947, he moved south to St Augustine, and he bought the Alcazar Hotel to house his collection of collections.
The Alcazar was built by St Augustine transplant Henry Morris Flagler in the Spanish renaissance style and ment as an extension to his other first world-class hotel, The Ponce de Leon across the street. This original hotel was a getaway for the 1%-ers back in the 1880 but was lacking amenities, there was nothing to do but eat and be seen. So shortly after completing the Ponce, Flagler started the Alcazar hotel and filled with amenities for his guests. The Alcazar has a larger Ballroom, World’s largest indoor swimming pool, Turkish bath, Steam bath, Massage room, Cold plunge, Lounge room, Gym, and these are just the in-door activities. These unique and strange rooms now house the collections of the museum, and what a fitting setting they are.
The Alcazar not only houses the Lightner Museum, it also houses the City of St Augustine offices. On his death Otto Lightner gave his museum and Alcazar building to the city of St Augustine. So the old hotel rooms are now city offices and the common rooms are used for public hearing rooms and shops. But the rest of the building is used for the museum exhibits.
With three floors of exhibits that include everything from player-pianos, shrunken heads, miniature steam engines, cut-crystal, porcelains, paintings and rare furniture… Otto’s museum has it all. And this annual event, The Hidden Lightner allows donors the opportunity to access the attic of this remarkable museum. So the collections that use to have a home downstairs or, are not normally available to the general public or, they just don’t have room for in the first place, are up there in the attic. And with the purchase of a ticket, we are allowed to walk up and down the isle of the attic looking very closely to these rare-of-the-rare items. We are excited and can’t wait to get up there.
So if you want to see a perfectly unique and distinctly St Augustine sight book your room at the Historic Inn on Charlotte, and buy your ticket to The Hidden Lightner, before the last ones is sold.
(To watch a YouTube video about the Museum, click here)