What might Melania Trump and Akie Abe see at the Flagler Museum?


How will First Lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, entertain themselves while their husbands discuss world affairs during the Abes’ two-day visit to Mar-a-Lago?

Last year, the first ladies toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. This year, they’re scheduled to visit a Palm Beach landmark, the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum.

Flagler Museum representatives are close-lipped about how they will entertain their distinguished guests on Wednesday. The museum is closed to the public until 1 p.m., according to its website.

DONALD TRUMP IN PALM BEACH: Latest news, photos, videos

But here are some things the first ladies might learn during their visit:

* After accumulating a fortune as one of the founders of Standard Oil, Henry Flagler turned his attention to Florida, where he built a string of hotels and a railroad, paving the way for Florida’s tourism and agriculture industries.

* Flagler built Whitehall, his 75-room mansion on the shore of the Intracoastal Waterway, as a wedding present for his much-younger third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The couple spent part of the winter there from 1902 until Flagler’s death in 1913, establishing Palm Beach’s famous social season.

* The home was conveniently close to Flagler’s Palm Beach hotels — the Hotel Royal Poinciana, since destroyed, but the world’s largest resort when it opened in 1894, and the ocean front Palm Beach Inn, later renamed The Breakers. The original Breakers burned down, but its successor, built in 1926, remains one of Palm Beach’s most exclusive resorts.

* The house was designed by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings in the Beaux-Arts style and furnished by the fashionable interior decorators Pottier & Stymus. The rooms are decorated in period styles, such as Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Italian Renaissance and Francis I.

* When Whitehall opened in 1902, The New York Herald proclaimed it “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world.” The estate is a National Historic Landmark.

* Flagler’s private rail car No. 91, built in 1886, is housed in the museum’s Flagler Kenan Pavilion. Flagler rode in the car in 1912 to Key West to celebrate the completion of the Over-Sea Railroad. The railroad linking Miami to the Keys was an engineering feat and the southernmost link in his Florida East Coast Railway, spanning Jacksonville to Key West.

* During the season, the museum offers a full slate of concerts, lectures, exhibitions and other events as well as a cafe serving afternoon tea. Most have concluded, but Masterfully Human: The Art of Gaugengigl  is on view through April 29. Now largely forgotten, Ignaz Marcel Gaugengigl was one of Boston’s most sought-after artists in the late 19th century. His paintings were prized for being able to tell an entire story through a single gesture or facial expression.

Henry Morrison Flagler Museum

One Whitehall Way 

Palm Beach, FL 33480 

(561) 655-2833



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