Whitehall: The Versailles of South Florida

Henry M Flagler Museum
1 Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, FL
(561) 655-2833

As I alluded to in the previous post, The Flagler Museum is not to be missed if you’re visiting the Palm Beach area. There are very few Victorian and Gilded Age estates left to see in this kind of condition, and that are so well maintained and completely restored to look the way they did back in the early 1900’s. If you are a history freak like me, or a house freak like my wife, its a great place to go. You’ll need at least an hour or so to get through the museum, so if you are dragging kids along on your vacation, be aware  this might not be their cup of tea.

The Whitehall estate, as seen from the parking lot.

Would you like to see how the very wealthy lived during the Gilded Age? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below.

Whitehall is a 60,000 square foot, 55 room mansion built by oil and railroad tycoon Henry M. Flagler for his 3rd wife in 1902.

The view of the estate grounds from the front entrance of the mansion.

This is the entrance to the Breakers Hotel, which was also built by Henry Flagler at about the same time as Whitehall and is less than a half a mile away from the estate. Whitehall was a private home up until the mid 1920’s when a hotel wing was added to the mansion. In 1959 the hotel part was demolished and the entire estate was threatened with destruction until Henry Flagler’s granddaughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, bought the property and had it turned into a museum. Whitehall is now a protected landmark by the State of Florida.

The Great Hall. This is the largest room of any kind built for any private home during the Gilded Age. Note that the entire house has electric lighting as well as a climate control system (which has now been updated but uses the original ventilation ducts) which were relatively new innovations when the house was built. Everything about the place, including the manner of construction, was considered to be the pinnacle of technology at the time. It only took 18 months to build the entire house.

Henry M. Flagler, co-founder of the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller. Among Flagler’s many achievements was the introduction of a system to run centralized multi-state corporations, something which was never done up until the formation of Standard Oil.

The estate’s main dining room. The dining room was actually not big enough to serve the entire household if it was completely filled with guests — they needed to have multiple dinner seatings.

Original Kitchen Pantry

Main Ballroom, which was also the largest of its kind for any private home of the era.

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