Lightner Museum is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel built in 1888 by Henry Morrison Flagler. The hotel was often called “the castle of happy returns.”
I have walked past the Lightner Museum hundreds of times, yet I still vividly recall the moment I first set foot inside. I entered into the back section that used to house one of the nation’s largest indoor saltwater pools, and was shocked to find the entire pool was still there! It had been wonderfully repurposed with shops, boutiques and an elegant cafe right there in the deep end. I felt like I had literally traveled back through time to arrive on the inside of an old tintype photograph. It actually gave me chills, but I’m a time travel geek like that. Don’t laugh, Einstein thought time travel was possible, too.
Alcazar Hotel transformed into Lightner Museum:
The hotel was at the peak of its popularity during the 1890’s. More than 25,000 guests visited the Alcazar during those early winter seasons and countless more used the recreational facilities of the casino. For the pleasure of the guests, there was the world’s largest indoor swimming pool at the time, the grand ballroom, sulfur baths, a steam room, massage parlor, a gymnasium, a bowling alley, archery ranges, tennis courts and a bicycle academy.
The Lightner Museum: Splendours of the Gilded Age
From typewriters to Tiffany, Otto Lightner’s collection of fine and decorative art from the 19th century is impressive and extensive. The Museum’s eclectic collection ranges from a mummy, shrunken heads, human hair art, cigar labels, buttons, salt and pepper shakers, to Tiffany glass, cut glass, porcelain, fine art paintings, furniture and sculpture all housed throughout the four floors of the original Alcazar Hotel.
Lightner Museum is one of my favorite places in the Old City, and has the best parking in town if you’re visiting. We highly recommend you take a trip back in time there soon…you might just never come back.
75 King Street
Saint Augustine, Florida 32084