First ladies Melania Trump of the United State and Akie Abe of Japan toured Flagler Museum on Wednesday — another gilded, Palm Beach mansion coincidentally completed a few decades before Mar-a-Lago opened for the 1927 winter season.
The first ladies arrived at the museum, the former winter residence of industrialist Henry Flagler, about 11:20 a.m., while President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed trade and North Korea, and golfed at Trump International Golf Club, the president’s private club west of West Palm Beach.
Flagler Museum Executive Director Erin Manning gave the women a 40-minute private tour of the mansion, dubbed Whitehall, that included the mansion’s music room, where an organist performed the “Anvil Chorus” from the opera Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi, one of Henry Flagler’s favorite pieces, on the mansion’s 1,249-pipe Odell organ, one of the largest pipe organs ever installed in a private home of its day.
It was the second time Mrs. Trump hosted Mrs. Abe on a tour of a Palm Beach County cultural attraction. During the Abes’ visit to Mar-a-Lago in February 2017, the first ladies toured Palm Beach County’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens west of Delray Beach, which preserves the early 20th-century link between Japan and Palm Beach County. During that visit, Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Abe walked the grounds and had lunch at the Morikami, while their husbands played golf at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter before also spending time at Trump’s suburban West Palm golf course.
Shortly after arriving at Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday, Mrs. Abe continued the Japan-Palm Beach County cultural connection with a return to the south end of the county.
During an hour-long visit to Loggers’ Run Middle School west of Boca Raton, Mrs. Abe donned a chef’s jacket and helped students in the culinary program prepare sushi. The school is launching a Japanese language program next year, said principal Edmund Capitano, who tweeted photos of Mrs. Abe’s visit.
Mrs. Abe, who was not accompanied by Mrs. Trump to the school, was welcomed with a song performed by the school’s choir and presented flowers and art created by students and a teacher.
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During the Flagler Museum tour Wednesday, the first ladies also toured Flagler’s private rail-car. Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil, also acquired and built of series of railways that eventually became known as the Florida East Coast Railway. Flagler’s railroad opened up tourism along Florida’s east coast, eventually linking mainland to the Florida Keys. His mansion opened in 1902.
Also guiding the first ladies on the tour was William M. Matthews, great-grandson of Henry Flagler and the Flagler Museum’s Board of Trustees Treasurer.
Mrs. Trump wore a knee-length, green shirt dress with her usual Louboutin shoes. Mrs. Abe wore a black, short-sleeved dress with a floral print and white heels.
Neither woman offered remarks or took questions during the visit.
Mrs. Trump did later tweet photos and a thank you to the museum, saying, “Thank you to the @FlaglerMuseum for the engaging tour this morning. It was a treat to step back in time w/ Mrs. Abe & admire the beauty of Whitehall.”