The Lightner Museum, formerly The Alcazar Hotel was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler and was often called, "the castle of happy returns." During the 1890's more than 25,000 guests visited during the winter months to enjoy the abundant amenities such as the indoor pool, sulfur baths, steam room, massage parlor, gymnasium and even a casino. But by 1931, Alcazar closed its' doors only to re-open in 1946 when a Chicago antique collector, Otto Lightner, bought it to house his own Chicago-based historical collection of antiques and paintings. Lightner donated the property to the city of St. Augustine, having made a deal with the city to allow him to permanently display his museum stocked with his antique furniture, architectural structures, musical instruments and other fine art pieces.
Now knowing the museum's full history, it makes much more sense that there are antique storefronts and other offices under the arched walkways lining the exquisite outdoor courtyard. For wedding photographers, it can be a little tricky to navigate around the landscaping to get the right angle of the ceremony that takes place on the stone bridge over an elongated pond stocked with koi and goldfish. Having successfully conquered the terrain, I felt it was well worth it to have captured the rustic weathered exterior of the castle surrounding the beautiful garden landscape.
I also got a taste of old Florida prior to the ceremony, as the bridal party got ready at a local Bed & Breakfast in the rooftop suite and then following the ceremony, I accompanied the bride and groom in their horse drawn carriage ride to their dinner reception in the quaint district of St. Augustine at The Columbia Restaurant.
I've pretty much grown up in Florida my entire life and have to admit, it's easy to take for granted Florida's rich history and architectural treasures like The Lightner Museum. This past December, my family took in the Christmas tour of the Stetson Mansion in Deland, Fl. and were pleasantly treated to an extraordinary visual light and holiday extravaganza mixed in with the story of the mansion itself, the Stetson family and how the current owners restored what is now Trip Advisor's Top Ten Places to Visit in Florida." http://www.stetsonmansion.com
So whether you're a Florida native or transplant, don't let another weekend go by without taking in some our state's many historic attractions that just might be in your backyard like the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour that takes you through the canals and lakes of Winter Park and where you'll hear anecdotes from your captain about original residents like Fred Rogers' of the children's show fame, that first began to buy land and build their winter getaways along the lakefronts in Winter Park.
And of course, if you're looking for a wedding venue, you'll find many historic sites to choose from. If that's the case, I'd start with the "castle of happy returns."
Until then, enjoy my castle wedding photos ...