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 on the National Register of
, one of the founders of
, built Whitehall for his
wife, Mary Lily Kenan.
The site of the home was purchased for $50,000 in 1893 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
. 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
After the death of Flagler in 1913 and Mary Lily in 1917, the home
was bequeathed 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
open to the public as the Flagler Museum, featuring guided tours,
changing exhibits, and special programs. 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 Art style; meant to rival the
extravagant mansions in Newport, Rhode Island.
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
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
8,100-square-foot 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.