Flagler Museum

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Whitehall (Henry M. Flagler House)
Henry M. Flagler Mansion, Whitehall Way, Palm Beach (Palm Beach County, Florida).jpg
Henry M. Flagler Mansion
Flagler Museum is located in Florida
Flagler Museum
Location Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Coordinates 26°42′51″N 80°2′30″W / 26.71417°N 80.04167°W / 26.71417; -80.04167Coordinates: 26°42′51″N 80°2′30″W / 26.71417°N 80.04167°W / 26.71417; -80.04167
Built 1900–1901[2][3]
Architect Pottier & Stymus, Carrère and Hastings[2][1]
Architectural style Beaux Arts[2]
NRHP Reference # 72000345[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 5, 1972
Designated NHL February 16, 2000[3]

Flagler Museum, also known as Whitehall, is a 55-room mansion open to the public in Palm Beach, Florida in the United States. The building is listed[4] on the National Register of Historic Places.


Henry Flagler, one of the founders of Standard Oil, built Whitehall for his third 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.[5] The architects were Carrère and Hastings, who 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.

Flagler died of injuries sustained in falling down a flight of marble stairs at Whitehall in 1913, at the age of 83.[6][7] 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.[5]

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.[5]

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 local galas and balls throughout the year. The Museum is located at Cocoanut Row and Whitehall Way, Palm Beach.


Interior of the Main Hall, 1972

When it was completed in 1902, Whitehall was hailed by the New York Herald 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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[8]

Flagler Kenan Pavilion[edit]

Officially opened February 4, 2005, the $4.5-million Flagler Kenan Pavilion is the first addition to the property since 1925.[10] The 8,100-square-foot (750 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.[11]

See also[edit]


  • Ossman, Laurie; Ewing, Heather (2011). Carrère and Hastings, The Masterworks. Rizzoli USA. ISBN 9780847835645.
  1. ^ a b Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c "Flagler Museum – Whitehall". 
  3. ^ a b Whitehall (Henry M. Flagler House) at National Historic Landmarks Program
  4. ^ National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary accessed on June 13, 2006
  5. ^ a b c Historic American Buildings Survey Library of Congress
  6. ^ "Whitehall Flagler Museum". Destination 360. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Henry Morrison Flagler". Everglades Digital Library. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  8. ^ a b http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/geo-flor/36.htm National Park Service
  9. ^ The American Country House, Clive Aslet, Yale University Press, 2005 pg. 222
  10. ^ Palm Beach Post; January 16, 2005; Sunday ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT; Pg. 6J
  11. ^ Florida Design A Grand Home For Flagler's Railcar

External links[edit]