Mar-a-Lago

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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
Location 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, Florida, United States
Coordinates 26°40′37″N 80°02′13″W / 26.67694°N 80.03694°W / 26.67694; -80.03694Coordinates: 26°40′37″N 80°02′13″W / 26.67694°N 80.03694°W / 26.67694; -80.03694
Area 110,000 sq ft (10,000 m2)[1]
Built 1924–1927
Architect
NRHP reference # 80000961
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 23, 1980[2]
Designated NHL December 23, 1980[3]

Mar-a-Lago (/ˌmɑːr.ə.ˈlɑː.ɡ/) is a resort and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, Florida, built from 1924 to 1927 by cereal-company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. The 126-room, 62,500-square-foot[4] house contains the Mar-a-Lago Club, a members-only club with guest rooms, a spa, and other hotel-style amenities. It is located on the Palm Beach barrier island, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway to the west.

At the time of her death in 1973, Post bequeathed the property to the National Park Service, hoping it could be used for state visits or as a Winter White House. However, because the costs of maintaining the property exceeded the funds provided by Post, and it was difficult to secure the facility (as it is located in the flight path of Palm Beach Airport), the property was returned to the Post Foundation by an Act of Congress in 1981.[5]

In 1985, Mar-a-Lago was purchased by businessman Donald Trump[6] and his then-wife Ivana Trump was put in charge of running the property.[7] Trump retained Mar-a-Lago through his two divorces, and his family maintains private quarters in a separate, closed-off area of the house and grounds.[8] Since becoming President, Trump has frequently stayed there,[9] referring to it as the Winter White House and his "Southern White House". It is the 20th largest mansion in the United States.

Etymology[edit]

The company identifies the name Mar-a-Lago as Spanish for "Sea-to-Lake."[10]

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, heiress to the Post Cereals business, built the house with her husband Edward F. Hutton. She hired Marion Sims Wyeth to design it, and Joseph Urban to create interior design and exterior decorations.[11][12] Post, who died in 1973, had willed the 17-acre (6.9 ha) estate to the United States government as a Winter White House for presidents and visiting foreign dignitaries.[13] 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, and the difficulty maintaining security for diplomats,[14] and 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,[15] but there was so little interest that the city approved its demolition to build smaller homes.[16] Mar-a-Lago was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980.[3][17][18]

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

Donald Trump learned about the estate after unsuccessfully trying to purchase and combine two apartments in Palm Beach for his family. According to Trump, he offered the Post family $25 million for it, but they rejected it. Trump then bid $2 million to purchase the land between Mar-a-Lago and the ocean, stating he intended to build a home that would block Mar-a-Lago's beach view. The threat caused interest in the property to decline, and Trump ended up getting the property for $7 million in 1985.[19][15] He renovated the estate, adding a 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) ballroom[16] 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 as members Jews, blacks, and, as one Everglades member said,[who?] "people who try to call attention to themselves". 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.[16][15][20]

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.[21]

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.

Trump presidency[edit]

President Trump has referred to Mar-a-Lago as his "Winter White House"[22] and alternately the "Southern White House".[23] It has a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) for communications with the White House Situation Room and Pentagon.[24]

Notable presidential visits[edit]

Trump's first visit to Mar-a-Lago as President of the United States took place on the weekend of February 3–6, 2017. On Saturday, he hosted the Diamond Red Cross Ball at Mar-a-Lago Club,[25] while on Sunday, he watched Super Bowl LI at Trump International Golf Club (West Palm Beach). The estimated cost (over US$3 million) of the weekend garnered some scrutiny as Trump, before being elected, had regularly criticized President Obama for taking allegedly expensive taxpayer-funded vacations.[26]

Trump and Shinzō Abe at Mar-a-Lago

On the weekend of February 10–12, 2017, President Trump and his wife Melania hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and his wife. This was the first use of Mar-a-Lago to entertain an international leader,[27] 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.[28]

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.[29] He also conducted interviews for a replacement National Security Advisor and named General H. R. McMaster as Flynn's successor on February 20, 2017.[30]

After President Trump's fourth weekend visit on March 3–5, questions were raised about the access his paying club members have to him and his entourage. A number of Democratic senators asked the President to release visitor logs of Mar-a-Lago and as well as a list of the members of the private club.[31] Subsequently, the "Mar-a-Lago Act" was introduced, legislation requiring publication of logs of visitors at the White House and other places where the president conducts business.[32] A lawsuit filed by a National Security Archive analyst, Kate Doyle, in conjunction with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and CREW requested the visitor logs from Mar-a-Lago be released to the public. In July 2017 a judge ordered that these logs be released in September .[33]


Trump's fifth presidential visit took place on March 17–18. Guests included Melania's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs.[34]

The Trumps hosting Xi Jinping and his wife at Mar-a-Lago

During his next visit April 6–9, President Trump hosted the Chinese leader Xi Jinping for the first two days.[35][36][37] At Mar-a-Lago the decision to strike a Syrian airfield was made.[37] The following Easter weekend was also spent with family members at Mar-a-Lago.[38]

On April 4, 2017, prior to President Xi's visit, ShareAmerica, a Web site run by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs, published a blog post describing Mar-a-Lago's history.[39] On April 5, 2017, the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom's website shared snippets of the original blog post on its own blog, and the U.S. Embassy in Albania's Facebook page shared the original post.[40][41] On April 24, 2017, Democrats Senator Ron Wyden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and ethics observers like former Ambassador Norman Eisen, questioned the use of official government resources promoting a private property owned by Trump.[42][43][44][45] By April 25, 2017 ShareAmerica and both U.S. Embassies in the United Kingdom and Albania removed their respective posts. ShareAmerica, replaced their post with the following statement, "The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the president has been hosting world leaders. We regret any misperception and have removed the post."[46]

With the seasonal closing of Mar-a-Lago by May 14 ahead of the Atlantic hurricane season, it is expected that Trump spends more weekends at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. [47]

Security zone[edit]

When the President is in residence the Palm Beach region becomes a zone of temporary flight restrictions[48] affecting flights and air operations severely within a 30 nautical mile (55.56 km) radius.[49] 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.[50] By the third weekend in February 2017, nearby Palm Beach County Park Airport (Lantana Airport) had been shut down for three consecutive weekends, accumulating significant financial losses for multiple businesses.[51]

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.[52] The fee was returned to $200,000 in January 2017 following the election of Donald Trump as president[52] with $14,000 annual dues.[53] Overnight guests pay up to $2,000 a night.[16] 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.[54]

The club has nearly 500 paying members (with a cap of 500) and admits twenty to forty new members a year.[55][56] 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.[56]

The club holds an annual New Year’s Eve party, described in Daily Mail by journalist and author Ronald Kessler, who has known Donald Trump for two decades: "The New Year's Eve party was held in that ballroom [described in Kessler's book The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society], with almost 700 guests who paid $1,000 per couple. First came hors d'oeuvres and champagne on the terrace overlooking the pool, always heated to 78 degrees, like the second pool right on the ocean. Cocktail shrimp, stone crab claws, cold lobster, oysters on the half shell, sushi, and caviar dished onto blini were among the offerings. After that, the guests swanned over to the ballroom for dinner and dancing. Dinner included truffle and ricotta ravioli and filet mignon and scallops. The bubbly: from Trump's own Charlottesville, Virginia vineyard."[57] A second article by Kessler in Daily Mail in February 2016 predicted that Trump would operate as president the way he runs Mar-a-Lago.[58]

In "A Roadmap to Trump’s Washington", Kessler described the carrot-and-stick approach Trump used to get his Mar-a-Lago estate approved as a club by Palm Beach Town Council members and predicted he would operate in the same manner as president to win over support for his agenda.[59] In "The Anatomy of a Trump Decision", Kessler depicted how Trump makes decisions by focusing on his decision to turn his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach into a private club.[60]

As of February 2017, President Trump is considering at least three club members for ambassadorships.[56]

In protest of Trump's remarks on the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, six nonprofit organizations canceled scheduled gala events at the club. The charities canceling included the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society.[61]

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).[62] 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.[63] 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.[64]

Discrimination[edit]

In December 1997, Trump filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In his suit Trump accused the town of discriminating against Mar-a-Lago for allowing black and Jewish members, groups not typically welcome in the area's other clubs.[15]

According to Vanity Fair, "Trump and his attorney had already implied that he and his club had been discriminated against because many of its members were Jewish, and, worse, that the council members who had placed the conditions on him had not placed those restrictions on their own clubs."[15]

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.[65]

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.[65] As part of the settlement, Trump leased 215 acres from the county, on which he built the 18-hole Trump International Golf Club.[15] In July 2010, Trump filed another lawsuit aiming to stop the airport from constructing a second commercial runway.[66] That suit was dismissed.[65]

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".[65] Trump claims that officials pressured the FAA to direct air traffic to PBI over Mar-a-Lago in a "deliberate and malicious" act.[67]

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.[65] Trump dropped the lawsuit after winning the presidency, as the estate will likely have a no-fly zone imposed by the FAA.[68][15] 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.[69]

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. Archived from the original on April 2, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Trump Honored for Preservation of Mar-a-Lago". Miami Herald. March 2003. 
  5. ^ Gruson, Kerry (July 16, 1981). "Post Home For Sale For $20". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ Draper, Robert (May 18, 2016). "Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 18, 2016. 
  7. ^ Shnayerson, Michael (July 16, 1988). "Inside Ivana's Role in Donald Trump's Empire". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ Sherman, Erik. "A Look Inside Donald Trump's Lavish, $200 Million 'Palace'". Fortune. Retrieved November 18, 2016. 
  9. ^ "See Inside the 'Winter White House' at Mar-a-Lago". Time. Retrieved 2017-02-17. 
  10. ^ "History". The Mar-a-Lago Club. Trump Golf 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-21. 
  11. ^ "Mar-a-Lago HABS No. FLA-195" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "The History and Memories Behind Mar-a-Lago". Palm Beach Post. December 17, 2005. 
  13. ^ Time, August 1, 1980[full citation needed]
  14. ^ Kessler, Ronald (1999). The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society (1. ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 181. ISBN 0060193913. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Seal, Mark (February 2017). "How Donald Trump Beat Palm Beach Society and Won the Fight for Mar-a-Lago". Vanity Fair. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ McKithan, Cecil N. (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)
  18. ^ "AssetDetail". focus.nps.gov. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Trump Fights Property Taxes". Associated Press. March 29, 1988. 
  20. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (2017-01-17). "Haughty Palm Beach learns to love Trump, once a scorned outsider". Miami Herald. 
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  22. ^ Caputo, Marc. "Trump dubs Mar-a-Lago the new 'Winter White House'". Politico. 
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  26. ^ Nussbaum, Matthew (February 3, 2017). "Trump's Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million". Politico. Retrieved February 6, 2017. 
  27. ^ Rascoe, Ayesha (February 11, 2017). "Trump and Japan's Abe take a swing at golf diplomacy". Reuters. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  28. ^ Liptak, Kevin (2017-02-13). "At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range". 
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  30. ^ Mason J, Zengerle P (February 20, 2017). "Outspoken general named Trump's top security adviser". Reuters. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  31. ^ Webb, Kristina (March 6, 2017). "New: Senators call for release of visitor logs from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved March 6, 2017. 
  32. ^ Estepa, Jessica (March 25, 2017). "Democrats introduce the 'Mar-a-Lago Act'". CNBC. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Judge Orders Sep. 8 Deadline for Mar-a-Lago Visitor Records Release | National Security Archive". nsarchive.gwu.edu. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  34. ^ Spargo, Chris (March 18, 2017). "The family's all here! Trump plays golf for the 10th time since becoming president as Melania's parents join them at Mar-a-Lago". Daily Mail. Retrieved March 23, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Said and unsaid: the hits and misses of Xi-Trump talks in Mar-a-Lago". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2017-04-09. 
  36. ^ Wong, Alan (2016-04-05). "When Xi Jinping Visits Trump at Mar-a-Lago, ‘Nothing Involving Golf Clubs’". New York Times. 
  37. ^ a b Bennett, George (April 7, 2017). "Trump in Palm Beach: Syria strike OK'd at Mar-a-Lago". Plam Beach Post. Retrieved April 11, 2017. 
  38. ^ Bruce Golding (April 16, 2017). "Trump attends Easter service with family near Mar-a-Lago". New York Post. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  39. ^ "Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House | ShareAmerica". 2017-04-24. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
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  41. ^ "U.S. Embassy-Tirana". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  42. ^ "Ron Wyden on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  43. ^ "Nancy Pelosi on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  44. ^ Borger, Julian (2017-04-24). "US embassy site triggers outrage by calling Mar-a-Lago 'winter White House'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  45. ^ "Why is a U.S. embassy promoting a story about Mar-a-Lago?". USA Today. Retrieved 2017-04-24. 
  46. ^ ShareAmerica (2017-04-04). "Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House | ShareAmerica". ShareAmerica. Retrieved 2017-04-25. 
  47. ^ Darren Samuelsohn, Kenneth P. Vogel (April 19, 2017). "Goodbye, Mar-a-Lago. Hello, Bedminster". Politico. Retrieved May 15, 2017. 
  48. ^ Narnowitz, Dan (February 14, 2017). "AOPA Seeks FAA Meeting on Mar-a-Lago TFRs". AOPA. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  49. ^ "TFR List 7/4956 (Palm Beach, FL)". FAA. February 15, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  50. ^ Liberman, S (February 24, 2017). "Mar-a-Lago resort – Donald Trump’s winter white house – serves the elite in Palm Beach". My San Antonio. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  51. ^ Spencer, Terry (February 17, 2017). "Small airport businesses to Trump: Your Florida visits hurt". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  52. ^ 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. 
  53. ^ 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. 
  54. ^ "Donald Trump Personal Financial Disclosure Form 2015" (PDF). 
  55. ^ Disis, Jill (2017-01-26). "Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago hikes prices as membership nears cap". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  56. ^ 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. p. A1. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  57. ^ Kessler, Ronald (January 6, 2016). "Exclusive: Truffle and Ricotta Ravioli". Daily Mail. 
  58. ^ Kessler, Ronald (February 29, 2016). "Take a Look at How Donald Trump Operates Mar-a-Lago". The Daily Mail. 
  59. ^ Kessler, Ronald (April 3, 2017). "A Roadmap to Trump's Washington". Washington Times. 
  60. ^ Kessler, Ronald (April 26, 2017). "The Anatomy of a Trump Decision". Washington Times. 
  61. ^ Glenza, Jessica (August 18, 2017). "Charities cancel events at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club". The Guardian. Retrieved August 18, 2017. 
  62. ^ "Town cites Trump, but big banner still waves | www.palmbeachpost.com". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved February 7, 2017. 
  63. ^ "City to Trump: You're Fined!". CNN. Archived from the original on January 21, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2007. 
  64. ^ "Trump’s war with Palm Beach". Politico. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  65. ^ a b c d e Reid, Andy (December 11, 2015). "Trump's Airport Lawsuit Lingers as Presidential Bid Heats Up". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. 
  66. ^ Playford, Adam (July 20, 2010). "Trump Sues to Prevent Runway Expansion". Palm Beach Post. 
  67. ^ Sedensky, Matt (January 13, 2015). "Trump Sues for $100M, Says Air Traffic Targets Him". USA Today. Retrieved February 23, 2015. 
  68. ^ "Mar-a-Lago no-fly zone renders Trump lawsuit moot". 
  69. ^ "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]