Palm Beach was once a sparsely populated primitive island that was almost impossible to reach until the 1885 construction of Henry Morrison Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad. Flagler after having made his fortune partnering with John D Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company, turned his interests and attention to the development of Florida’s East Coast, building several luxury hotels and connecting the cities of the east coast with the Florida East Coast Railroad that ran from Jacksonville to Key West.
Henry Flagler built Whitehall in 1902 as a wedding present for his wife and it became their Palm Beach winter retreat. As they say, money attracts money so it wasn’t long before Palm Beach became a world renowned winter resort spot for the elite and powerful.
With more than 75 rooms and restored to its original grandeur, Whitehall today is open to the public for all to enjoy its history and masterful architecture. John and I toured the mansion choosing the guided tour and I would recommend this over the self guided tour as our guide was so much more informative than any brochure could ever be. Our guide not only gave us the history of Whitehall itself but of the Flagler family and the famous visitors that were entertained here in the mansion’s glory days. The tour guide with his passion for Whitehall, brought the place alive in my imagination and I found myself visualizing what it must have been like to be a guest at one of the Flagler’s grand parties.
It was obviously apparent that great attention to every detail was put forth in to the restoration and presentation of this museum. For John and I, it was a fascinating peek back into a golden era of time that in some ways I wish I could have experienced. The opulence of lifestyle that has been preserved for our viewing in this magnificent mansion was truly worth the visit.
Equally impressive was the exhibit of Henry Flagler’s private rail car in a building next to the Whitehall Mansion.
Adult Admission to the Palm Beach Flagler museum is 18.00 and you should allow yourself at least 2 and a half hours or more to enjoy this experience. The Whitehall Henry Morrison Flagler Museum is located at 1 Whitehall Way in Palm Beach Florida.