Arguably, Henry Morrison Flagler was the godfather of Florida’s tourism success story.
The leading captain of industry not only founded Standard Oil and the Florida East Coast Railway, he also helped put Miami and Palm Beach on the map of American tourism. Flagler’s winter home, Whitehall, was built in 1902 and was a present to his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan and is a prime example of neoclassical beaux arts architecture.
Designed by Carrère and Hastings who had previously designed the Ponce de Leon Hotel and several other buildings in St. Augustine for Flagler, Whitehall was designed to rival the extravagant mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. Built in the Spanish Revival style, it is built around a large open-air courtyard with verdant planting and flowers left to grow natural.
Comprising 72 rooms, the mansion is a testament to opulence and artistry with multiple rooms demonstrating fine gilding work, hand painted murals to the ceilings and ornate marble columns, staircases and walls. Artwork adorned every inch of the walls with crystal chandeliers making a statement about Flagler and his industrial empire. A place for grand balls, Whitehall was an exemplary example of those who benefited from America’s industrial boom.