History, Random Rants, Travel, tutto e niente

Lightner Museum in St. Augustine: Through the Looking Glass and into a Wonderland?

Looking to escape the worst of a summer that will not end, we decided to head north; hoping that four hours of drive time would translate into at least twice that much in degree difference. Spoiler alert: It didn’t! Hit with a short-span heat wave that coincided directly with our trip, it was sweltering. Ugh.

It also was a holiday Monday and I had mixed feelings about being in St. Augustine on that day. What holiday, you ask? The one that Florida denotes as “Columbus Day” but that I (and many like-minded souls) honor as Indigenous People Day.

The day wasn’t chosen deliberately. Our hotel was unavailable on the day we wanted so we had to push the trip back a day. (Or should that be “push the trip up a day”? I always confuse those two.)

NOT our hotel but oh to have danced back in the day!

Anyway, we left a day later than planned and there we were—landing in St. Augustine on “Columbus Day” surrounded by families with lots of kids “celebrating” the triumph of Columbus’ legacy. For those who may not know, St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. (Which is a really benign way to say that the Spanish came, killed, enslaved, and stole from the indigenous peoples with a passion that Columbus, no doubt, would have found inspiring.)


Plus, apparently autumn is NEVER coming to Florida. Did I mention it was HOT!

So long story short(ish), as non-kid-having trying-to-be-culturally-woke folk, we felt a bit out of our element. BUT, we do love museums and (ironically) the ostentatiousness of the Gilded Age, so the Lightner Museum saved the day!


Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel (built in 1888 by super rich guy named Henry Flagler), the museum is home of one of the premier collections of fine and decorative art in the country. Seriously, Lightner collected everything! Between the hotel itself and the collections on display, it really was like stepping through the Looking Glass into a different world.

Through the Looking Glass …
“I don’t think — ” “Then you shouldn’t talk.”
“Off with their heads!”
In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream — Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?
How doth the little busy bee Improve each shining hour, And gather honey all the day From every opening flower!
“Curiouser and curiouser!”
“We’re all mad here.”
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!”
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Yes. I was hungry and yes I was thinking  about EGGS!)
“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Thus grew the tale of Wonderland: Thus slowly, one by one, Its quaint events were hammered out — And now our tale is done And home we steer, a merry crew, Beneath the setting sun.


Thanks and credit to Lewis Carroll for taking us to a Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. And thanks to Wander Essence for the inspiration and the reminder that I like to write about my travels!

Looking at our photos (all made by myself or my husband) and thinking about Cathy’s travel writing suggestions led me to Alice. Thus the Carroll quotes as captions. Hope y’all enjoy!

8 thoughts on “Lightner Museum in St. Augustine: Through the Looking Glass and into a Wonderland?”

  1. What a fun piece you’re written here, Tina. I love how you brought in all the Lewis Carroll quotes; they fit so perfectly with the photos! The Lightner Museum itself, housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, is so Moorish and Spanish all rolled into one; no doubt this follows St. Augustine’s conquest and settlement by the Spanish. I so relate to your musings about Columbus Day, the history and wrongness of it, and the fact that St. Augustine was overrun by families with children. I’m glad you were able to escape and find an adult place! My children are all grown now, and I always try to avoid places swarming with kids! You found so many interesting things in this museum: the Shrunken Head, and the glass (?) flower fixture (is that a chandelier?). I love the mummy with the quote: “In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream — Lingering in the golden gleam — Life, what is it but a dream?” How clever all around! Thanks for joining in with my prose invitation. I’ll be happy to link this post to my next prose post of November 12. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It was fun sifting through all my photos with a theme in my mind! I’m glad you appreciated my quotes picks. And yes that flower pic is a chandelier. I stretched out so I could get a photo from directly underneath. I was thrilled with how it turned out. My fave from the whole day. 😃


      1. I love it! I find it great fun to intersperse words or quotes from a book or poem into a prose piece. It was more fun to read than typical captions with titles of the objects. And I forgot to say that I also love your photo of the hotel, which is so vintage looking! It reminds me of the photo post I did last week of Americana in Louisville, featuring Linda Bruckheimer’s photographs.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! I saw that post. Loved it. It’s really what inspired me to do some travel stuff again. I think my last travel writings might have been from a year ago when I blogged about our long triangle trip- florida to illinois to DC to Florida.


      3. Oh, good. I was inspired by that photographer for sure. She really captured the vintage old America! I was able to capture some similar shots along the old Route 66 in Arizona and New Mexico last year, but not as many as I’d like. Your hotel is a great example.

        Wow, that’s a long time to go without travel blogging. If I didn’t write about my travels, I’m afraid I’d have nothing much to say! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s