Once home to the famous Henry Flagler, the Flagler Museum located in Palm Beach, Florida is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also known as Whitehall, the residence was completed on February 6, 1902. The completion date was just in time for the newlyweds (Flagler and his third wife Mary Lily Kenan) to enjoy it. It also just so happened to be his wedding gift to his new wife. Flagler’s first wife, Mary Harkness, had been sickly for many years. As such, the first time he visited Florida in 1876 was to help her convalesce. He found the winter in Florida to be exhilarating. Unfortunately however his wife passed away only a few years later. After a failed second marriage, he wed Mary Lily Kenan in 1901 and each year he and his new wife would travel by his railroad and private luxury car to winter in Palm Beach at Whitehall.
[php snippet=1]When it was first constructed the mansion at Whitehall was hailed as more wonderful than any palace in Europe. It was called grander and more magnificent than any other private residence in the world by The New York Herald! The Whitehall mansion was meant to rival the extravagant mansions of Newport Rhode Island, a rich paradise. The mansion is built around a very large open-air courtyard that is centralized such as those in Italy and the south of Spain. Whitehall mansion has 55 rooms and each is furnished with original period pieces. The rooms are expansive and all have marble floors, walls and columns. The ceilings all contain wonderful murals and heavy gilding is abundant throughout.
Today you can visit the unusually beautiful rendition of Beaux Arts architectural style that is Whitehall much the way Henry Flagler did over 100 years ago. There have, however, been a few structural changes to the original building. The site had been purchased by developers and they added a 300 room ten story addition and destroyed Mr. Flagler’s office, the housekeeper’s apartment and redesigned the kitchen and pantry areas. Sadly Flagler himself died of injuries he sustained in the home when he fell down a marble stairway in, 1913; he was 83 years old at the time of his death.
The Whitehall mansion and Henry Flagler museum is an opulent must see. Even the hottest days in Florida are but 73 degrees inside Whitehall and the art, history and ambience make it worth the trip. Open noon to 5 Tuesday through Saturday and prices are: $18 for adults, and $3 for children. Call 561-655-2833 to book a visit to this fantastic home of the man that brought Florida its railroad and its splendor.
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