, also known as Whitehall
, is a 55-room mansion
A mansion is a very large dwelling house. U.S. real estate brokers define a mansion as a dwelling of over . A traditional European mansion was defined as a house which contained a ballroom and tens of bedrooms...
open to the public in Palm Beach, Florida
The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth...
in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...
Henry Flagler, one of the founders of Standard Oil
Standard Oil was a predominant American integrated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing company. Established in 1870 as a corporation in Ohio, it was the largest oil refiner in the world and operated as a major company trust and was one of the world's first and largest multinational...
, built Whitehall for his wife, Mary Lily Kenan.
The site of the home was purchased for $50,000 in 1893 (as of 2010 that would be $1,197,562.39) by Flagler; later surveyed for construction in July 1900 and the home completed in time for Flagler and his wife to move in on February 6, 1902. The architects were Carrère and Hastings
Carrère and Hastings, the firm of John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings , located in New York City, was one of the outstanding Beaux-Arts architecture firms in the United States. The partnership operated from 1885 until 1911, when Carrère was killed in an automobile accident...
. It was 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.
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 was devised to her niece Louise Clisby Wise Lewis, who sold the property 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.
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
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...
and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum, featuring guided tours, changing exhibits, and special programs. It also hosts a variety of local galas and balls throughout the year. The Museum is located at Cocoanut Row and Whitehall Way, Palm Beach.
When it was completed in 1902, Whitehall was hailed by the New York Herald
The New York Herald was a large distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between May 6, 1835, and 1924.-History:The first issue of the paper was published by James Gordon Bennett, Sr., on May 6, 1835. By 1845 it was the most popular and profitable daily newspaper in the UnitedStates...
as "more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world." It was designed in the Beaux Arts style; meant to rival the extravagant mansions in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...
Distinct from these northern homes, Whitehall had no outbuildings or subsidiary structures. Nor had it elaborately planned or cultivated gardens. Plants, flowers, trees and shrubs were allowed to grow unaided.
The mansion is built around a large open-air central courtyard and is modeled after palaces in Spain and Italy. Three stories tall with several wings, the mansion has fifty-five fully restored rooms furnished with period pieces. These rooms are large with marble floors, walls and columns, murals on the ceilings, and heavy gilding.
Flagler Kenan Pavilion
Officially opened February 4, 2005, the $4.5 million Flagler Kenan Pavilion is the first addition to the property since 1925. The 8100 square feet (752.5 m²) pavilion is named after the mogul and William R. Kenan Jr., Flagler’s engineer, friend and brother-in-law. It was designed in the Beaux-Arts manner by Jeffery W. Smith of Palm Beach-based Smith Architectural Group, Inc. and took almost four years to build. It also houses the seasonal Pavilion Café.