Henry Flagler’s Hotel Alcazar opened its doors in 1888 to fête the upper crust who rode his rails to St. Augustine to escape the harsh northeastern winters.
Designed in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style, the hotel was an elegant getaway that boasted every convenience and amenity for its guests, including the world’s largest swimming pool at 120 feet long by 50 feet wide, and depths ranging from 3 feet to 12 feet.
The pool was constructed as the centerpiece of the hotel casino annex that also featured a workout room, therapeutic baths, a steamroom, and bowling lanes. An artesian well fed a constant flow of fresh sulphur water to the pool to sustain moderate temperatures and assure clarity. The roof featured louvered glass panes that opened for ventilation.
The hotel was shuttered in 1932, and laid dormant until Otto C. Lightner purchased the building in 1947 to showcase his extensive Victorian Era arts collection.
Today, the Lightner Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the pool is home to Café Alcazar, a subterranean eatery serving lunch off the deep end.
The moment I entered the room, I felt I was in the middle of a Downton Abbey episode. It was easy to imagine a tony troop of aristocrats parading in their top hats and arm length evening gloves.
After surveying the room, I had a notion to create an Escheresque puzzle that could tease the viewer into questioning whether the following composition is a mirror image of itself, or a pool reflection, or both.
Or is it just a deception?
There are subtle clues in plain sight that may aid in deciphering the composition. The proof is in the putting.