One Whitehall Way
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Tues-Sat: 10am-5pm / Sun: Noon-5pm
Whitehall, the home of the Flagler Museum, was built in 1902 for Henry Flagler, co-founder of Standard Oil, and his third wife Mary Lily Kenan. Designed by John Carrere and Thomas Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture, Whitehall was meant to rival the extravagant mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. Spread over two floors and spanning 100,000 square feet, Whitehall is decorated in a wide range of styles, from Louis XIV to Swiss chalet. Louis Comfort Tiffany, better known for his brilliance in glass artistry, is among the featured painters.
The site of the home was purchased for $50,000 in 1893, surveyed for construction in 1900 and the home completed in time for Flagler and his wife to move in on February 6, 1902. Architects Carrère and Hastings had earlier designed the Ponce de Leon Hotel and several other buildings in St. Augustine for Flagler. Whitehall was to be a winter residence, and Henry gave it to Mary Lily as a wedding present. They would travel to Palm Beach each year in one of their own private railcars, one of which was No. 91 and is now parked today on the southern side of the structure.
A year after he completed his overseas railroad to Key West, Flagler died of injuries sustained in falling down a flight of marble stairs at Whitehall in 1913, at the age of 83. Mary Lily died four years later, and the home became the property of her niece Louise Clisby Wise Lewis, who sold it to investors. They constructed a 300-room, ten-story addition to the west side of the building, obliterating Mr. Flagler’s offices, the housekeeper’s apartment, and altering the original kitchen and pantry area. Carrere and Hastings were the architects of the 1925 reconstruction. In 1939 it was Palm Beach’s second-largest hotel (after The Breakers).
In 1959, the site was saved from demolition by one of Henry Flagler’s granddaughters Jean Flagler Matthews. She established the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum non-profit corporation, which purchased the building in 1959, opening it as a museum in 1960. The upper ten stories of the hotel addition were demolished in 1963 in preparing the museum for the public.
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. It also hosts a variety of Palm Beach galas and balls throughout the year.
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