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The college is named after Henry Morrison Flagler, a Gilded Age industrialist, railroad pioneer and oil magnate. In 1888, he built the luxury resort Hotel Ponce de Leon, which now serves as a residence hall and centerpiece for the college. A masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture, Ponce de Leon Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The grand hotel launched the careers of famous architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings. Thomas Edison personally helped make Ponce the first building in Florida wired with electricity, and Louis Comfort Tiffany decorated the building’s interior with stained glass, mosaics and several commissioned murals.

The hotel was sold to Flagler College when the institution was founded in 1968. Since then, the college has spent more than $43 million dollars restoring the historic campus and adding new buildings. One of the latest additions to campus is a multimillion-dollar Student Center on Sevilla Street. The college has also developed a 19-acre athletic field just two miles from campus.

Lawrence Lewis, Jr., Henry Flagler’s principal heir, was the driving force behind the development of Flagler College. The philanthropist envisioned a small, private liberal arts college on the grounds of the magnificent old hotel.

The school opened as a women’s college, and it was reorganized as coeducational in 1971. Lewis served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Flagler College during these formative years, from 1968 to 1988.

The college has grown with time, but it maintains a commitment to high educational standards within a close-knit community.

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