Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Flagler Museum: So very Palm Beach ... and beautiful

Flagler Museum
Cocoanut Row and Whitehall Way
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission: $18 (check their site for other prices)
 Plenty of free parking at adjacent chapel

By Jane Feehan

The east coast of Florida owes much to the vision of Henry Flagler (1830-1913). Towns and cities grew where his Florida East Coast Railway cut a path – through swamp land, scrub pine and over water. By the time his rail reached Key West in 1912, St. Augustine, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and a roster of other towns were established.

Dining room 
Palm Beach was already a world-class resort at that time. There, Flagler built his winter home, Whitehall. Completed in 1902 for $2.5 million, this elegant house with 75 rooms serves as the Flagler Museum today. It’s well worth a visit and the price of admission. The setting, on the “island” along Lake Worth, is beautiful, the décor and art, exquisite. It’s a snapshot of the Gilded Age, a period between the end of the Civil War and the stock market crash of 1929.  
Cafe des Beaux-Arts for lunch
Lunch at the Café des Beaux-Arts is served for $18 (tax and tip included) during the winter season, Christmas to Easter. It’s a fixed menu of tea sandwiches, bite-sized desserts, a scone, tea and punch. In a beautiful table-clothed, high-ceilinged setting, the Flagler Pavilion, and with Mozart (or opera) playing, eye-popping yachts floating close by, lunch may leave one breathless, if not entirely full-bellied; there is nothing else like this. Self-guided or guided tours available.
View from the cafe

Flagler as a young man
Some other interesting Flagler facts: in addition to his railway, Flagler built churches, schools and was one of the founders of Florida Power and Light.

Tags: Florida history, Palm Beach history, lunch in Palm Beach, Henry Flagler

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