Henry Morrison Flagler Museum – Palm Beach, Florida - Atlas Obscura

Henry Morrison Flagler Museum

This railroad and oil tycoon's lavish estate now stands as a time capsule of the Gilded Age. 


Built in 1902, the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, is a 75-room, 100,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion. Originally the Whitehall Mansion, it was constructed as a wedding present for Henry Morrison Flagler’s third wife.

Flagler, an oil and railroad tycoon, had often traveled to Florida and recognized its great potential for tourism. He started developing hotels in St. Augustine, and later looked south toward West Palm Beach to build a winter home.

Whitehall was constructed by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, who also designed Flagler’s St. Augustine hotel. Whitehall’s trademark features are its massive marble columns and red barrel tiled roof. The mansion consists of two floors, an attic, a 23,000-square0foot basement, and a magnificent wrought iron fence surrounding it. The estate is situated in prime real estate, between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, in addition to being located across from the iconic Breakers Hotel.

Flagler died in 1913 and the mansion was passed between relatives until it was sold to a group of investors. The investors used Whitehall as a hotel from 1925 to 1959. In 1959, Whitehall was in danger of being demolished, so Flagler’s granddaughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, started a nonprofit, the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum. She purchased the property and transformed it into the institution it is today. 

The museum also hosts immersive afternoon teas during select times of year. Visitors can dine next to the historic rail car with views of the water. Guilded age garb is not required though reservations are recommended. 

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