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Distinguished Speaker Series | Building the Over-Sea Railroad: The Untold Story

8-March from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Distinguished Speaker Series

Building the Over-Sea Railroad with John Blades

March 8, 2024 | 6:00pm-7:00pm

The story of the building of the Over-Sea Railroad is a much more complicated story than is generally known and involved decades of planning and strategic thinking. Ironically, the tremendous time span needed to accomplish the project, and the changes in shipping that occurred during that time, ultimately led to the failure of the very project Henry Flagler considered the crowning achievement of his life’s work.

About the Presenter:

John Blades grew up in California not far from Hearst’s San Simeon estate, which opened to the public in 1959 as the Nation’s largest house museum and was later designated as a National Historic Landmark. During his two decades at Hearst Castle, John held a variety of positions including Assistant to the Director, Senior Photographer, and Head of the Public Affairs Office. Perhaps the Nation’s most ambitious collector, Hearst’s broad collecting interests and the amazing time in which he lived inspired John to pursue an understanding of America’s Gilded Age.

As Executive Director of the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum since 1995, John Blades has overseen the complete restoration of Whitehall and the construction of the first public building built in the Beaux Arts style in more than six decades. During his tenure, the Flagler Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark, re-accredited twice by the American Alliance of Museums, and was one of only five museums in the Nation to receive those honors as well as the Ross Merrill Award for its Outstanding Commitment to the Preservation and Care of Collections. Today, the Flagler Museum is Florida’s premier house museum and one of a very small group of house museums considered the best in the Nation.

Funding for this program was sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support from The Helmerich Trust, Aloys & Carol Metty and The John & Marilyn Rintamaki Family Charitable Fund.


March 8, 2024
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
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Key West Art & Historical Society


Tropic Cinema
416 Eaton Street
Key West, FL 33040 United States
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