The Alcazar Hotel, opened by Henry Flagler on December 25, 1888, was designed by his architects, Carrere and Hastings. Flagler ordered it built to provide activities for wealthy winter visitors. It was the center of social life for half a century until its closing in 1931.
Hobbies Magazine Founder Otto Lightner of Chicago purchased the building for $150,000 in 1947, to house his collections of 40,000 to 50,000 antiques and collectables, gathered from Chicago estates after the crash of 1929. The building and collections were left to the citizens of St. Augustine upon his death in 1950.
The hotel today houses the St. Augustine City Hall and Lightner Museum. The City Hall occupies the forward section, originally hotel rooms surrounding the courtyard. The Lightner Museum occupies the rear section, orginally the casino, featuring salons, steam rooms, a bowling alley and the largest indoor pool of its time, 120 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a depth of 3 to 12 feet. The City Commission meets in the former ladies parlor in the courtyard section, while the pool area houses shops and a caf