A Mid-Winter Getaway

Harding poses with fellow fishermen in front of the day’s catch in St. Augustine. Via Ohio Memory.

Ohio, like a large swath of the United States, has been hit with a real wave of winter weather this past week, and many of us may be feeling the desire to head somewhere warmer and sunnier until the first day of spring. While it may not be that easy to get away, perhaps it’s a good time to take a look at a newly-added photograph album on Ohio Memory, documenting the February 1921 visit taken by President-elect Warren G. Harding to the sunny shores of St. Augustine, Florida!

Anastasia lighthouse in St. Augustine, completed in 1874. Via Ohio Memory.
Anastasia lighthouse in St. Augustine, completed in 1874. Via Ohio Memory.

St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest continuously-occupied European settlement, settled by the Spanish in 1565. Located along Florida’s Atlantic coast, it is home to a number of significant landmarks including the Castillo de San Marcos, the Plaza de la Constitucion, the Hotel Alcazar (now the Lightner Museum) and numerous historic churches. Harding took this trip in the month before his 1921 presidential inauguration, spending much of February stationed at the Hotel Ponce de Leon selecting the members of his new presidential cabinet. The vacation was documented in a leatherbound album by the St. Augustine Elks Lodge No. 829, with photographs by P.A. Wolfe, which is part of the Warren G. Harding Photograph Collection (P 146) held by the Ohio History Connection.

During his time in St. Augustine, Harding kept quite busy–both with leisure activities, as well as more official events in his capacity as president-elect. A good portion of the album documents Harding’s passion for golf, playing at “The Links” as well as watching professional golfers like Mike Brady, Peter O’Hara, Fred McLeod, and Jim Barnes.

Warren G. and Florence Harding posed on a pier in St. Augustine, via Ohio Memory.
Florence and Warren G. Harding posed on a pier in St. Augustine, via Ohio Memory.

Other photo ops included a public event at the Castillo de San Marcos, a meeting with Boy Scouts from nearby Jacksonville, fishing at the Cocolobo Cay Club, a visit to the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, and much more! Notable figures who appear in the album include Rebecca Latimer Felton, known for being the first woman to serve as a U.S. senator (for one day), Dr. Charles E. Sawyer, personal physician to President Harding, and Major General Johnson Hagood, a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal for his service during World War I. Ever the politician, Harding also found an opportunity to pose with a baby, who appears to be named after him!

We invite you to experience a lovely sun-filled trip to this historic city through the pages of this album along with President Harding. Bon voyage!

Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!


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