Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Flagler Museum, Part 1

National Geographic says, "An absolute must-see for visitors to Palm Beach". Oh really? On such sound advice, last October I visited the former home of Henry Flagler which he christened "Whitehall". First of all you ask, "Who is Henry Flagler?" If you do not live in Florida, you may not recognize the name — but he was the businessman who build the Florida East Coast Railway which extended along the east coast of Florida, eventually reaching all the way to Key West. At the time (late 19th century/early 20th century), Florida was an untamed frontier but the railroad made both tourism and commercial activity possible. To a certain extent he deserves the credit (is it blame?) for what Florida is today.

From their website — 'On March 30, 1902, a story in the New York Herald described Whitehall, the Palm Beach home of Henry Flagler as, "More wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world..."

Flagler built the 75-room, 60,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion, Whitehall, as a wedding present for his wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The couple used the home as a winter retreat from 1902 until Flagler's death in 1913, establishing the Palm Beach season for the wealthy of the Gilded Age.'

When one has essentially unlimited funds and an architect with imagination, the result is a mansion like Whitehall (or Hearst Castle in California as another example). No detail is left to chance — even down to the lions guarding the perimeter.

For those of us of more modest means, it is simply hard to envision actually visiting such a home — much less living there. Just look at the scale of the "vases" in front of the portico.

You can compare them to the height of my dad and Monica, his health care worker (who has really become part of our extended family), standing on the left side of the steps.

Here is one up close. Do you supposed they had giant flowers to put in the vase? Hmm, I wonder. If so, they must have come from Texas — everything is bigger in Texas, right?


And where you and I might have a simple clay pot as a planter, Flagler had a six-foot tall marble cylinder with dancing nymphs playing musical instruments in high relief.

And check out the portico itself — massive fluted columns supporting the overhung roof with carvings of flowers, leaves, dental molding and frames. In addition, there are those lovely mini-balconies where the residents and guests could oversee the arrival or departure of others.

More detail of same.

Still more.

And Flagler did not just put his money into the entrance — even the sides and rear of the mansion have beautiful and practical architectural features.

The entire estate is located on Breisford Point, on the east bank of Lake Worth and is exquisitely landscaped. This photo just shows the shoreline next to the property.

Humans are not the only visitors who find this property appealing. Here is a Great Egret who also seems to enjoy life here. He actually seemed quite used to people, he kept his distance but did not flee immediately as I approached with my camera.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com