I really enjoy going to museums and learning about the history of different areas. On one of my trips to Florida, I got the opportunity to see the stunning Flagler Museum. I was so impressed with the architectural detail of the mansion and with the accomplishments of Henry Flagler.

History of Flagler Museum

Whitehall is a 75-room mansion open to the public in Palm Beach, Florida. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It houses the Flagler Museum which is named after its builder. Henry Flagler, one of the founders of Standard Oil, built Whitehall for his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan.

The mansion is built around a large open-air central courtyard and is modeled after palaces in Spain and Italy. Three stories tall with several wings, the mansion has fifty-five fully restored rooms furnished with period pieces. These rooms are large with marble floors, walls and columns, murals on the ceilings, and heavy gilding.

Henry Flagler had an interesting career.  He founded the Flagler and York Salt Company but that company failed when demand for salt decreased.  He became friends with John D. Rockefeller and they created Standard Oil. He then built several hotels and a railroad.  He was a visionary that did much to help develop Florida in the areas of transportation and tourism.

The Tour

When you walk up to the mansion you notice the ornate iron gates and the sheer size of the building.  You know you are going to see something special when you walk through the doors.

Once we got our tickets, we immediately saw the beauty in the lobby. Everywhere you looked you saw the attention to detail.  The murals on the ceiling were so colorful and happy.  The furniture was handmade and everywhere you looked there were special details to catch your eye.  I must say it was very impressive from the start.

Flagler museum main entry
Flagler museum ceiling detail

Lots of Detail

One thing you notice as you go through each room is the amazing detail.  The ceilings are stunning with beautiful murals surrounded by decorative plaster.  Each room had some unique aspect that really stood out.  Even the floors were intricate and well designed.  As you went to each room you found yourself looking up, down and in every direction as there was always something to catch your eye.

You saw angels, cherubs, and beautiful women in flowing dresses.  The plaster design on the ceilings and walls was unique and added depth to each room.  There were ornate chandeliers, beautiful artwork and lots of columns separating areas. It definitely had a European air about it.

The Railcar

Henry Flagler’s private Railcar No. 91 is exhibited in the Museum’s Flagler Kenan Pavilion. Built in 1886 for Flagler’s personal use, the railcar was acquired by the Museum in 1959 as an artifact of Florida history. The interior and exterior of the car have been restored to the original 1912 appearance.

We really enjoyed going through the railcar.  One thing you notice right away is how tight the space is inside.  The decor inside was impressive with lots of burgundy and deep colors.  It was much nicer than I expected.  You could tell Flagler really loved trains.  The pavilion itself was bright and airy with a relaxed feeling.

mural on ceiling
ornate room

Final thoughts

To say I was impressed would be an understatement.  The attention to detail in each room was extreme.  Each time you walked into a room there was so much to see from the ceiling to the floor.  You would not get bored quickly in a home like this.  A lot of love was put into the design of the entire mansion which made it even more special.

I would highly recommend going to see the Flagler Museum on your next visit to Florida. You will learn a lot about Flagler and the history of the area as well as get to see a beautiful mansion and railcar.  It was a lot of fun and a place I would visit again.

Life is a train, get on board.

Rating (4.5 stars):

Pros: Stunning architecture, interesting history

Cons: Crowds make it hard to see each room

Priority: Medium – very unique architecture

Cost: $18 adult admission

Savvy Tip: The store had low prices on nice books and collectibles to give as gifts.

Website: Flagler Museum