The Town of Palm Beach is a timeless corner of the tropics where some of America’s most influential families settled 120 years ago. They left behind beautiful homes and impressive history that few other communities can claim. At the forefront of this history is the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum. This breathtaking and iconic building, that Flagler gifted his third wife, holds a fascinating history. Let’s dive into the oddities of this historic landmark!
- The original fence is there to this day.
This fence has weathered the natural events of South Florida and is still standing at 121 years old! Surrounding the grounds of the Flagler Museum is a tall, beautifully designed iron and bronze fence. The fence is both protective and impressive. What visitors don’t know about the 1,000-foot long fence is that it is original to the mansion, designed by architects Carrere and Hastings in 1901.
- Central heating, but not to warm occupants.
The Flagler mansion was built long before the development of household air conditioning. Because of this, the massive structure and its beautiful contents were often affected by the tropical moisture. To fight the humidity, the home was built with a central heating system designed to dry the interior air and reduce the chance of mold. Even during the summer, the heating system would run to draw out moisture and preserve the precious contents. Upgrades have taken place and the home is now fully air-conditioned for visitors’ comfort.
- The home was built with a full basement.
The elevation of The Flagler Museum is truly impressive. But what lies below the building’s steps is something rare to see, especially in Florida. Staying in The Palm Beaches, you’ll know that few homes have basements due to the shifting sand and high water. Flagler’s mansion was an exception, with a full basement as part of the initial construction. The basement measures more than 23,000 square feet, and contains the plumbing and ducts needed to keep the home running.
- Flagler’s home didn’t have a swimming pool until the 1950s, and doesn’t have one today.
A huge swimming pool seems to be given for any mansion in South Florida. This is not the case for the Flagler mansion! It was built without one and wouldn’t have one for the first five decades of its existence. While the reason for this omission isn’t clear, it makes for a fun guessing game with family and friends! One was eventually installed when the home was part of a larger hotel complex in the 1950s, and it has since been removed.
- Ten antique clocks are still running today.
Flagler’s home is full of beautifully crafted timepieces. There are ten impressive clocks spread out among the home’s rooms, each in complete working order! The clocks require weekly winding, and museum staff must follow a specific procedure to make sure inner workings are kept in tip-top shape.
If you’re looking for more information about the Flagler Museum, or want to share your experience, reach out to me!