Lights Part of Continuing City Hall PreservationThere’s something new at City Hall, but you wouldn’t even notice it if you were here 125 years ago when The Alcazar Hotel, the building housing City Hall, was new.
The perimeter walls of the grounds of both the Hotel Alcazar and the Hotel Ponce de Leon were originally adorned with fancy, near delicate wrought iron light fixtures that stood at the walls’ gateways. Weather and time necessitated the removal of many of the fixtures, termed light cages because of the caged look of the wrought iron frame in which was suspended a white lighted globe.
In recent years, as part of ongoing historic preservation efforts, the fixtures have been returning, first through Flagler College’s efforts on its campus, then in the area in the front of City Hall over a decade ago. Now, in just the last two weeks, the last dozen of the fixtures have been placed along the Granada and Cordova Street entrances, with electrical connections planned to be completed shortly.
It’s worth noting that securing such distinctive wrought iron fixtures, crafted to accurately match fixtures designed in the last 19th century, is not easy. The work was performed by Alex Klahm Architectural Metal and Design, Inc., of St. Petersburg. A lot of Klahm’s work is restoration of the delicate and decorative wrought iron on lighthouses, including their staircases. He has worked on lighthouses i Tybee Island, GA, Montauk, NY, Point Sur, CA, Cape Hatteras, NC and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
The funds for the light cages, approximately $20,000, was included in this year’s city budget. The wiring of the fixtures is underway now and when completed, another part of St. Augustine’s past will return, one of the accomplishments of historic preservation.
Crew from General Services Department work on installation at City Hall. Pictured, Left to Right, Gilardo Millan, Gary Babcock, and Fred Christie.