I credit some friends with the inspiration for this post. They have just returned from a fun-filled week in St. Augustine, Florida, and they spent some time in the the historic Casa Monica hotel because they heard the hotel was celebrating its 120-year anniversary. They brought back a slew of pictures, and the hotel looks gorgeous – time has been kind to her!
Casa Monica opened in St. Augustine in 1888, and it’s fitting that such a beautifula and historic hotel should reside in the country’s oldest continuously operated settlement in the US. The hotel sprung up out of the deep pockets of a Mr. Henry Flager, a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller, and he saw great potential in St. Augustine as a winter retreat for the well-to-do. The first shovels hit the ground in 1887, and by January 1, 1888 Casa Monica Hotel was ready for business. Things were slow at first – only three guests registered when it first opened, and Henry Flager had to purchase the hotel back from the Bostonian architect he had sold the land to. Soon, Flager had turned Casa Monica completely around, renaming it Casa Cordova, and the hotel enjoyed great prosperity.
Unfortunately, over the years the hotel was somewhat neglected, and the number of guest dwindled. Casa Cordova shut down in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, but it was finally purchased again in 1962 and transformed into a (large) county courthouse. In 1997, the hotel/courthouse changed hands once again and was gradually renovated and restored to its former beauty. The “new” Casa Monica Hotel welcomed guests again for the first time in 67 years on December 10, 1999, in time for a new generation of wealthy snowbirds to escape their frigid Northeastern climes.
Today, 138 luxurious and welcoming guestrooms make guests feel at home with Spanish architecture, wrought-iron beds and rich Mahogany woods. There’s a remarkable four-story suite which as hosted a line of illustrious guests including the King and Queen of Spain. Rates are around $200-$600 per night for the normal rooms, though I have yet to discover the price of that four-story suite…probably best for my heart if I didn’t ask.
Photo Credit: PlacesAroundFL