Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Florida History: Palm Beach's Mar-a-Lago links past, present

Tower of Mar-a-Lago
(Use search box at right to find more about Florida history)

Addison Mizner wasn't the only architect to leave an imprint on Palm Beach. Several others were also commissioned in the 1920s to build expansive, over-the-top-mansions on the island.

Among them were Marion Sims Wyeth (1889-1982) and Viennese architect and production designer Joseph Urban (1872-1933). They designed Mar-a-Lago (ocean-to-lake) for Edward Hutton and his wife, cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.  Sims drew up plans for the structure; Urban designed its interior.*

The opulent estate, with 115 rooms, a nine-hole golf course, 15th century tiles, and a 70-foot tower, took four years to build at a cost of $8 million. Completed in 1927, it still stands today.
Hutton and Post divorced but the heiress continued to live at the mansion. Her parties and charitable functions at Mar-a-Lago were legendary, drawing national attention to Florida. When Post died in 1973, she left the estate to the U.S. government as a national landmark. Nearly seven years later, Mar-a-Lago was returned to the Post Foundation because maintenance costs were too high.
In 1985, Donald Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago as his residence. A few years later, he was granted permission to run it as a private social club. Mar-a-Lago sits across from the Bath and Tennis Club, at the southern end of town. It is now included in the National Register of Historic Places.

*Wyeth also designed the Florida Governor’s Mansion and the Norton Museum; Urban helped write several children’s books and was production designer for the Ziegfeld Follies and  Metropolitan Opera.
See search box for more Florida History; click links under news clips to see entire articles,

O'Sulllivan, Maureen. Palm Beach Then and Now. West Palm Beach: Lickle Publishing, 2004

Tags: Palm Beach, Palm Beach history, Mar-a-Lago, Florida history

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