Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"I have always been contented, but I have never been satisfied." ~ Henry M. Flagler

One of our final jaunts around Florida before heading home was a visit to the Flagler Museum, located in Palm Beach.  An overwhelming, 60,000+ square-foot mansion, I will simply not be able to share all of it with you.  I hope that you will at least get a feel for the place.

One interesting thing that I learned is that at the time of its construction, around 1893-1902 (with an addition completed in 1925), mansions such as this were specifically designed to be museums for classical arts and literature, and a symbol of American cultural sophistication.  At the end, I will share links that will provide more detailed information about Henry Flagler and the museum if you are interested.

The video clip below, while dated, provides a 10-minute summary of Flagler's contribution to the development of East Florida, and his competitive partnership with Henry Plant, who helped to develop the state's west coast.

"When it was completed in 1902, the New York Herald proclaimed that Whitehall, Henry Flagler's Gilded Age estate in Palm Beach, was "more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world." Today, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum, featuring guided tours, changing exhibits, and special programs."

Henry Flagler built Whitehall (now home to the Flagler Museum), for his wife, Mary Lily Kenan.  The home was built for $50,000 beginning in 1893.  It was a winter residence and Henry gave it to his wife as a wedding present. 

Henry Flagler

Grand Hall

"Lady in the Veil" marble bust byE. Fiaschi
The resident organist played the 1,249-pipe JH &CS Odell Co. organ.
The Grand Balroom
1903 ball in honor of George Washington's birthday.  Oh - but to have been a fly upon that wall!
Venetian stemware

The Billiards Room

The Dining-room 

The Breakfast Room
The Drawing Room

On to the bedrooms (of which I will share a few) ~

The Master Suite, which Henry and his wife shared - an uncommon practice at the turn of the century.

More bedrooms ~

The Upstairs Servants' Rooms
"A regular staff of servants accompanied the Flaglers to their Palm Beach winter estate each year. Many of these servants lived on the second floor west wing, which housed thirteen separate servants' bedrooms."

The museum also houses  a "Lace Exhibit".  Up through the Guilded Age, lace was a highly prized commodity.
Lace workers display the various styles of lace made, and the different pillows used in their lace school in the late 19th century in Friuli, Italy.  Traditionally lace-making instruction began when the girls were very young.
One of the lace-making pillows and tools.

The Courtyard of Whitehall - the Courtyard plan took advantage of the ocean breezes, which helped to cool the house in the hot Florida climate.

    I would have loved to have seen the kitchen facilities, but the original area was destroyed when Whitehall added a hotel addition in 1925.  The museum offices are now housed in its place.
    A few other resources for you:
What a time in history it must have been . . . . 


  1. Looks like the perfect location for a Downton Abbey Spin-Off ;)

    I love this post! Thank you for sharing it together with these great pictures!

  2. I certainly agree with the Downton Abbey comparison!

  3. It looks very grand indeed!
    Your photos are so very good. I always enjoy looking at them. Smiles, Dottie

  4. You easily could have named this post "Downton Abby in America". All of these photos are breathtaking, and I especially enjoy the now and then photos of the Grand Ballroom. The clothing, the architecture, the lace!, the history - another huge post Tracy - thank you for sharing all of this with us!

    1. Thank you T.! It was quite an amazing place! Your comparison to Downton is right on. The Grand Ballroom before and after - can you just imagine?