Mar-a-Lago

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This article is about the house and resort. For Swiss village, see Miralago.
Mar-a-Lago National Historic Landmark
MaralagoLoC.jpg
Mar-a-Lago, Marjorie Merriweather Post's estate on Palm Beach Island
Mar-a-Lago is located in Florida
Mar-a-Lago
Mar-a-Lago is located in the US
Mar-a-Lago
Location 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Coordinates 26°40′37.439″N 80°02′13.157″W / 26.67706639°N 80.03698806°W / 26.67706639; -80.03698806Coordinates: 26°40′37.439″N 80°02′13.157″W / 26.67706639°N 80.03698806°W / 26.67706639; -80.03698806
Area 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2)[1]
Built 1924–27
Architect
NRHP Reference # 80000961
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 23, 1980[2]
Designated NHL December 23, 1980[3]

Mar-a-Lago (English pronunciation: /mɑɹ.ə.lɑ.goʊ/) is an estate and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, Florida, built from 1924 to 1927 by heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post envisioned the house as a future winter retreat for American presidents and foreign dignitaries, and following her death in 1973 it was bequeathed to the nation. However, successive presidents declined to use the mansion, which was returned to Post's estate in 1980 and in 1985 was purchased by Donald Trump, later 45th President of the United States.[4]

The 126-room, 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2)[5] house contains the Mar-a-Lago Club, a members-only club with guest rooms, a spa, and other hotel-style amenities. The Trump family maintains private quarters in a separate, closed-off area of the house and grounds.[6]

Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has used Mar-a-Lago as his Winter White House and as a Camp David-style presidential retreat.[7][8]

Etymology[edit]

The company identifies the name Mar-a-Lago as Spanish for "Sea-to-Lake."[9]

History[edit]

Living room of Mar-a-Lago, 1967
Entrance to Mar-a-Lago owner's suite, April 1967
Entrance gate in 2014

Marjorie Merriweather Post built the house with her then-husband Edward F. Hutton. Post hired Marion Sims Wyeth to design it, and Joseph Urban to create interior design and exterior decorations.[10][11] Upon her death in 1973, Post willed the 17-acre (69,000 m2) estate to the United States government as a Winter White House for presidents and visiting foreign dignitaries.[12] Richard Nixon preferred the Florida White House in Key Biscayne, however, and Jimmy Carter was not interested. The federal government soon realized the immense cost of maintenance, annual taxes roughly between $1–3 million, and the difficulty of maintaining security for diplomats.[13] The government returned it to the Post Foundation in 1981, which listed it for sale for $20 million. Dina Merrill and Post's two other daughters did not maintain the property, expecting to sell it,[14] but there was so little interest that the city approved its demolition to build smaller homes.[15] Mar-a-Lago was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980.[3][16][17]

Donald Trump at a fundraiser for the Cleveland Clinic hosted at Mar-a-Lago in 2012

After unsuccessfully trying to purchase and combine two apartments in Palm Beach for his family, Donald Trump learned about the estate and offered $15 million. After the Post family rejected the offer, Trump claimed he had purchased (he didn't purchase it until after he bought Mar-a-Lago) the land between Mar-a-Lago and the ocean and threatened to build a building that would block Mar-a-Lago's beach view, which caused the Post family to accept his last offer of less than $8 million in December 1985.[18][14] Trump renovated the estate, adding a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) ballroom[15] to the 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, a 29-foot-long (8.8 m) pietra dura marble top dining table, 12 fireplaces, and three bomb shelters. The club also has five clay tennis courts and a waterfront pool.

In the early 1990s, Trump faced financial difficulties. While negotiating with his bankers, he promised to divide Mar-a-Lago into smaller properties, alarming Palm Beach residents; the city council rejected his plan to do so. Trump instead turned the estate into a private club that—unlike other Palm Beach old money resorts like the Bath and Tennis Club and Everglades Club—accepted Jews, blacks, and (as one Everglades member said) "people who try to call attention to themselves" like Trump himself—as members. The new club hosted concerts by Céline Dion and Billy Joel, had beauty-pageant contestants as guests, and violated local noise ordinances. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley spent their honeymoon at Mar-a-Lago, and Sean Combs and Jennifer Lopez reportedly had public sex in front of the windows at the Bath and Tennis Club.[15][14][19]

On April 18, 2012, the American Institute of Architects' Florida Chapter ranked Mar-a-Lago fifth on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.[20]

Mar-a-Lago has frequently hosted the International Red Cross Ball, an annual "white tie, tails, and tiara" ball. Founded by Post, it has a history of attracting wealthy socialites and ambassadors from across the world in support of the mission of the American Red Cross. In 2016, Trump was elected President, thereby realizing Post's vision of the house as a presidential retreat, nearly four decades after the government had rebuffed her bequest.[21]

The "Winter/Southern White House"[edit]

President Trump has referred to Mar-a-Lago as the "Winter White House"[22] and alternately the "Southern White House".[23]

The first visit of President Trump at the Winter White House took place on the weekend of February 3–6, 2017. On Saturday, he hosted the Diamond Red Cross Ball at Mar-a-Lago Club,[24] while on Sunday, he watched Super Bowl LI at Trump International Golf Club. The estimated cost (over US$3 million) of the weekend garnered some scrutiny as candidate Trump regularly criticized president Obama for expensive taxpayer-funded vacations.[25]

On the weekend of February 10–12, 2017, President Trump and his wife hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife. This was the first use of his resort to entertain an international leader,[26] and the occasion for one of his first international security crises, that of a North Korean missile launch. Trump and Abe conferred in full view of the other diners.[27]

During the third consecutive weekend visit to Mar-a-Lago on February 17–20, Trump conducted a campaign rally at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport.[28] He also conducted interviews for a replacement National Security Advisor and named General H. R. McMaster as Flynn's successor on February 20, 2017.[29]

Security Zone[edit]

When the President is in residence the Palm Beach region becomes a zone of temporary flight restrictions[30] affecting flights and air operations severely within a 30 nautical mile radius (nmr).[31] Coast Guard and Secret Service secure the two waterway approaches, ocean and lake, and Secret Service cordons off streets to Mar-a-Lago during the President's visits.[32] By the third weekend in February 2017, near-by Palm Beach County Park Airport (Lantana Airport) had been shut down for three consecutive weekends accumulating significant financial losses for multiple businesses.[33]

The Mar-a-lago Club[edit]

The primary business occupying the estate is the Mar-a-Lago Club, which operates as resort and hotel for dues-paying members, and rents out estate venues for private events. Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club required a $200,000 initiation fee up until 2012 when it was lowered to $100,000. Sources close to the resort indicated the cut was in response to reduced demand following the Bernie Madoff scandal which affected many affluent Palm Beach residents.[34] The fee was returned to $200,000 in January 2017 following the election of Donald Trump as president [34] with $14,000 annual dues.[35] Overnight guests pay up to $2,000 a night.[15] According to financial disclosure forms filed by Donald Trump, the Mar-a-Lago Club realized $29.7 million in gross revenues in the period June 2015 to May 2016.[36]

The club has nearly 500 paying members and admits twenty to forty new members a year.[37] Members include oil executive Bill Koch, financier Thomas Peterffy, New Jersey Democratic Party leader George Norcross, lobbyist Kenneth Duberstein, real estate developers Bruce E. Toll and Richard LeFrak, media executive Christopher Ruddy, talk show host Howie Carr, talk show host Michael Savage’s wife, and NFL coach Bill Belichick.[37]

President Trump is considering at least three club members for ambassadorships.[37]

Lawsuits[edit]

Flag litigation[edit]

On October 3, 2006, Trump raised a 20-by-30-foot (6.1 by 9.1 m) American flag on an 80-foot (24 m) flagpole at Mar-a-Lago. Town zoning officials asked Trump to adhere to town zoning codes that limit flagpoles to a height of 42 feet (13 m).[38] This dispute led the town council of Palm Beach to charge Trump $1,250 for every day that the flag stayed up. Trump filed a lawsuit against the Town of Palm Beach. Trump eventually dropped his lawsuit over the flag, and in exchange the town waived its fines.[39] As part of a court-ordered mediation, Trump was allowed to file for a permit and keep a pole that was both 10 feet (3.0 m) shorter than the original pole and located on a different spot on his lawn. The agreement also required him to donate $100,000 to veterans’ charities, as well as resulted in a change to town ordinances allowing out-of-town enrollees in club membership.[40] After being elected US president in 2016, Trump can fly a flag of any size on his estate.[14]

Discrimination[edit]

In December 1997, Trump filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that the town was discriminating against Mar-a-Lago, in part because it was open to Jews and blacks.[41]

Aviation litigation[edit]

Trump has repeatedly filed lawsuits against Palm Beach County over aircraft going to and from Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) allegedly affecting Mar-a-Lago.[42]

Trump first filed such a lawsuit in 1995; that action was settled in 1996, with the county agreeing to collaborate with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and to change flight patterns so the noisiest jet aircraft flew over a wider area.[42] As part of the settlement, Trump leased 215 acres from the county, on which he built the 18-hole Trump International Golf Club.[14] In July 2010, Trump filed another lawsuit aiming to stop the airport from constructing a second commercial runway.[43] That suit was dismissed.[42]

Trump filed a third suit against the county in January 2015, seeking $100 million in damages for "creating an unreasonable amount of noise, emissions and pollutants at Mar-a-Lago".[42] Trump claims that officials pressured the FAA to direct air traffic to PBI over Mar-a-Lago in a "deliberate and malicious" act.[44]

In November 2015, a Florida Circuit Court judge ruled against most of Trump's arguments, dismissing four of the six claims and allowing the others to proceed.[42] Trump dropped the lawsuit after winning the presidency as the estate will likely have a no fly zone imposed by the FAA.[45][14] In January 2017, Palm Beach exempted Mar-a-Lago from a ban on landing helicopters on residential properties while Trump is president, including his own fleet and Marine One.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mar-A-Lago, the Trump Winter White House". The Huffington Post. August 11, 2015. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  2. ^ National Park Service (July 9, 2010). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ a b "Mar-A-Lago". National Historic Landmarks Program. National Park Service. 
  4. ^ Draper, Robert (May 18, 2016). "Mr. Trump's Wild Ride". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Trump Honored for Preservation of Mar-a-Lago". Miami Herald. March 2003. 
  6. ^ Sherman, Erik. "A Look Inside Donald Trump's Lavish, $200 Million 'Palace'". Fortune. Retrieved November 18, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Donald J. Trump on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  8. ^ "See Inside the 'Winter White House' at Mar-a-Lago". Time. Retrieved 2017-02-17. 
  9. ^ "History". The Mar-a-Lago Club. Trump Golf 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  10. ^ Mar-a-Lago HABS No. FLA-195
  11. ^ "The History and Memories Behind Mar-a-Lago". Palm Beach Post. December 17, 2005. 
  12. ^ Time, August 1, 1980[full citation needed]
  13. ^ Kessler, Ronald (1999). The season : inside Palm Beach and America's richest society (1. ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 181. ISBN 0060193913. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Seal, Mark (February 2017). "How Donald Trump Beat Palm Beach Society and Won the Fight for Mar-a-Lago". Vanity Fair. 
  15. ^ a b c d Brown, Ian (2016-12-31). "A look inside Palm Beach, where wealthy Canadians are one degree of separation from Donald Trump". The Globe and Mail. 
  16. ^ Cecil N. McKithan (August 31, 1981). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Mar-a-Lago" (PDF). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 4 photos, exterior, from 1967. (942 KB)
  17. ^ "AssetDetail". focus.nps.gov. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Trump Fights Property Taxes". Associated Press. March 29, 1988. 
  19. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (2017-01-17). "Haughty Palm Beach learns to love Trump, once a scorned outsider". Miami Herald. 
  20. ^ "Current Standings". 2015 People's Choice Award (Florida Architecture). Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  21. ^ Putzier, Konrad (January 2, 2017). "Inside Donald Trump's winter retreat". The Real Deal. Retrieved 18 January 2017. Ironically, when Mar-a-Lago’s first owner Marjorie Meriweather Post died in 1973, she left the estate to the federal government hoping it would become a vacation home for Presidents. But the government wasn’t interested, and later Trump bought it. 
  22. ^ Caputo, Marc. "Trump dubs Mar-a-Lago the new 'Winter White House'". Politico. 
  23. ^ Dave Boyer (February 18, 2017). "Trump dubs his Mar-a-Lago resort 'The Southern White House'". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 17, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Trump in Palm Beach: Another golf course visit today". Palm Beach Post. February 5, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  25. ^ Matthew Nussbaum (February 3, 2017). "Trump's Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million". Politico. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  26. ^ Ayesha Rascoe (February 11, 2017). "Trump and Japan's Abe take a swing at golf diplomacy". Reuters. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  27. ^ Liptak, Kevin (2017-02-13). "At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range". 
  28. ^ Dave Boyer (February 18, 2017). "Trump dubs his Mar-a-Lago resort 'The Southern White House'". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  29. ^ Mason J, Zengerle P (February 20, 2017). "Outspoken general named Trump's top security adviser". Reuters. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  30. ^ Dan Narnowitz (February 14, 2017). "AOPA Seeks FAA Meeting on Mar-a-Lago TFRs". AOPA. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  31. ^ "TFR List 7/4956 (Plam Beach, FL)". FAA. February 15, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  32. ^ Liberman S (February 24, 2017). "Mar-a-Lago resort — Donald Trump's winter white house — serves the elite in Palm Beach". My San Antonia. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  33. ^ Terry Spencer (February 17, 2017). "Small airport businesses to Trump: Your Florida visits hurt". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  34. ^ a b Frank, Robert (January 25, 2017). "Mar-a-Lago membership fee doubles to $200,000". CNBC. Retrieved February 13, 2017. The initiation fee for Mar-a-Lago had been $100,000 since 2012, when it was cut from $200,000. People close to the resort said the fee was reduced following a decline in memberships after the Bernie Madoff scandal, which claimed many wealthy Palm Beach victims. 
  35. ^ Jordan, Mary. "Inside Trump's Palm Beach castle and his 30-year fight to win over the locals". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 18, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Donald Trump Personal Financial Disclosure Form 2015" (PDF). 
  37. ^ a b c Nicholas Confessore; Maggie Haberman; Eric Lipton (19 February 2017). "Trump's 'Winter White House': A Peek at the Exclusive Members' List at Mar-a-Lago". The New York Times. pp. A1. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  38. ^ "Town cites Trump, but big banner still waves | www.palmbeachpost.com". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  39. ^ "City to Trump: You're Fined!". CNN. Archived from the original on January 21, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2007. 
  40. ^ "Trump's war with Palm Beach". POLITICO. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  41. ^ Journal, Jacqueline Bueno Staff Reporter of The Wall Street (1997-04-30). "Trump's Palm Beach Club Roils the Old Social Order". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-11-30. 
  42. ^ a b c d e Reid, Andy (December 11, 2015). "Trump's Airport Lawsuit Lingers as Presidential Bid Heats Up". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. 
  43. ^ Playford, Adam (July 20, 2010). "Trump Sues to Prevent Runway Expansion". Palm Beach Post. 
  44. ^ Sedensky, Matt (January 13, 2015). "Trump Sues for $100M, Says Air Traffic Targets Him". USA Today. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  45. ^ "Mar-a-Lago no-fly zone renders Trump lawsuit moot". 
  46. ^ "President Elect Trump Given Permission to Land Helicopter at Mar-A-Lago Estate". Heliweb. January 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Florida. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. 2004. p. 117. 
  • Blair, Gwenda (2000). The Trumps. p. 364. 

External links[edit]