City anticipating Lightner restoration grant

300-LIGHTNER-MUSEUM-BUILDINSubject to legislative funding of Special Category Grant Projects, Historic City News has learned that, at some point during the state’s fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014, St Augustine may receive $175,000, which the city must match, to defray repair and replacement costs of the barrel tile roof over the Lightner Museum portion of the City Hall building.

Last week, the seven-member Florida Historical Commission also approved two additional applications for special category grants from the Division of Historical Resources for the St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum’s shipwreck archeology exhibit and a restoration project for the Ximenez-Fatio House.

“St Augustine projects did very well when reviewed in Tallahassee,” Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson told local Historic City News reporters. “Of the sixteen projects from across the state, all three applications from St Augustine were approved.”

The city’s application for funds to restore the Alcazar Hotel ranked number one among the applications being considered. The entire restoration project for the Alcazar Hotel, of which the tiled roof is only a portion, includes replacing the remainder of the roof, sealing and waterproofing the exterior walls of the entire building and completing the replacement of the aluminum framed windows.

The landmark building and grounds were gifts to the City from Chicago publisher Otto Lightner with the caveat that the museum remain and the City bear the cost of future maintenance.

The Alcazar Hotel was one of two major hotels constructed by Henry Flagler in the late 1880s, and one of a number of magnificent buildings in the city which were constructed at the time and often credited with changing the face of St Augustine and introducing a distinctive building style to the United States.

Forty years ago in April, the Alcazar Hotel became home to St Augustine’s City Hall; and, in addition to the Lightner Museum, the building houses several State of Florida agency offices and a variety of retail shops.

Former Mayor James Lindsley, who was a St Augustine City Commissioner at the time, described the Alcazar as “the most beautiful, unique and majestic city hall in the Nation.” Williamson told reporters that, while it is a challenge to keep the building fitting that accurate description, the city is committed to its preservation. “Judging by the support of this recent application, so is the State of Florida,” Williamson added.

Lightner Museum Director, Robert Harper, and Barry Myers, Museum Curator, accompanied Tim Fleming, the city’s General Services Deputy Director, Nancy Sikes-Kline, St Augustine’s Vice Mayor; John Regan, City Manager; and Dana Ste. Claire, St Augustine’s 450th Commemoration Director, to Tallahassee to present and support the grant application.

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