Mar-a-Lago known as the Jewel of Palm Beach, the grand Six-star hotel, private club and also a home to President Donald Trump was actually the vision of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post wanted to build a great mansion and was searching a good piece of land in 1924. She traveled and searched many places with the real-estate agent and finally picked 17 acres of land where Mar-a-Lago is standing right now.
Post was one of the richest women in the World at that time, she inherited the Postum Cereal Company from her father which was successfully running; she was 27 years old then. Her father suicided in 1914, he was chronically ill. She managed the company well but in 1923 she handed the chairmanship to Edward Francis Hutton, who was her second husband. Hutton was a financier.
As her husband was there to look after the company, Post had plenty of time to plan for her grand mansion vision.
Marjorie had now 17 acres of perfect land of Palm Beach, Florida in her hand, therefore, she called Marion Sims Wyeth and hired him. Sims was an architect and educated at Princeton. He was also trained at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and later joined Carrere & Hastings in U.S. One of the Wyeth’s famous work is that he built the governor of Florida’s mansion in Tallahassee. He also designed Shangrila in Honolulu, Hawai.
The mansion that post wanted to build would be the magnificent combination of Moorish, Venetian and Spanish art and architectural element. The dream project of Marjorie would be as beautiful as the grand Mediterranean villas. She had traveled to Europe extensively and inspired by such culture.
Marion Sims Wyeth was a very talented architect and he was accumulating materials, ideas and designs to make a 55,000 sq. ft. mansion. Post too collected very old Spanish tiles from Mrs. Horace Havemeyer; some of the tiles were from the 15th century. Now, these 36,000 Spanish tiles are known as Mar-a-Lago tiles and largest collection of its kind anywhere.
The exterior of the house was finished and Post hired theatrical designer Joseph Urban to decorate and design the living rooms, public rooms including 58 bedrooms and 33 bathrooms. Urban had already done work for the huge opera house in Boston and New York so Post thought he was what she needed.
Post and Urban worked and discussed together to make each and every room unique and special. The architectural details and the gold leaf ceilings were exquisite. The gold leaf in Mar-a-Lago is the exact copy of Thousand Wing Ceiling in the Academia in Venice but the religious symbols were replaced by other symbols and secular coat of arms. The replacement of religious symbols was Post’s idea.
When the Mar-a-Lago was completed its living room with huge arched window faced the Atlantic Ocean in the east. The glass in that arched window was a huge piece of single glass manufactured in Pittsburgh and transportation required special arrangements to transfer it to Florida. At some point, the route of transportation was changed due to low bridges and narrow tunnel. Despite that, the glass was shattered into pieces while fitting it in and it was ordered once again. This time it was without any problem.
Mar-a-Lago has the 75-foot tall tower from where her guests would be refreshed by the mesmerizing water scenes. The historic Estate was between Lake Worth and Atlantic Sea from where the name Mar-a-Lago was inspired. It means sea-to-lake in Spanish. But people who didn’t know Spanish believed the initials of Mar-a-Lago (Mar) was from her own name Marjorie.
The Grand Mar-a-Lago was completed in 1927 at the cost of $7 million and often the social life and activities of Hutton’s family were included in the society page columns of newspapers. In 1929 Post managed to host the day party with Ringling Circus at Mar-a-Lago. It was named the Greatest show on earth by The New York Times.
Marjorie Post and E.F. Hutton divorced in 1935 and married Joseph E. Davies the same year. Hutton and Post had a single daughter, Dina Merill. Merill became an actress, socialite, and philanthropist.
Post died in 1973 but she left Mar-a-Lago to U.S. federal government to use it as a winter White House. At that time Jimmy Carter’s government returned the property to Post foundation because the maintenance was costly and there were some security issues. Now, Trump is using it as winter White House. Of Course!!
In 1980 Mar-a-Lago was made it on the list of the historic landmark; the community has written the application on its behalf.
Our current president Donald Trump made an offer $28 million to own Mar-a-Lago a few years after it was registered as the national landmark. He wanted to make it a private club. But his offer was refused because the place was for residential use only. Then how he owns it now? Well, the answer is he knows the art of deal which he claims he knows.
This is how he did it. He bought the property beside Mar-a-Lago and threaten to block the beautiful Ocean and Water view by building big architecture over there. But he said he wouldn’t build anything there if Mar-a-Lago was sold to him. Eventually, in 1985, he got Mar-a-Lago. How could the foundation let him ruin its view? Great dealing by Trump isn’t it?
Donald Trump only paid about $10 million which is pretty less than his original offer for the whole property with its antiques and the furniture inside it.
Anthony Senecal, the former butler of Trump and also unofficial historian of Mar-a-Lago told New York Times that “ Library od Mar-a-Lago has first edition rare books that weren’t read by the family”
In 2006, Trump had to fight with the town of Palm Beach for a flag pole. The town has rules that don’t allow flagpoles longer than 42 feet but the pole inside Mar-a-Lago compound was 80 foot tall. The fine was $250 per day for this violation. Later, there was an agreement when Trump sued for his right to free speech and he reduced the size of the flag and the pole to 70 foot. And he donated $100,000 to veteran’s charities instead of paying fine.
Trump fought with the Town before that too when town council limited the party attendance, photography, and membership to the club. Trump claimed that other private clubs at Palm Beach do not let black people and Jews be their member and he won. Many restrictions were lifted after that.
Trump has to wait 10 years to start The Mar-a-Lago Club because it look many years to get a permit; you know the society, rich and insular. The Clubs fees were $100,000 initially with an annual fee of $14,000. Recently, after Trump became President-elect the initial fees were doubled to $200,000.
Trump is using Mar-a-Lago as his wife. He’s added a beach club, spa, beauty salon, swimming pool, croquet room, five red clay tennis court, and 20,000 sq. ft. ballroom.
Trump has celebrated 21 Thanksgiving in Mar-a-Lago continuously. He also celebrated Christmas and New Year eve there. Not only that Melania and Donald, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Donald Jr. and Vanessa Trump, and Eric Trump and Lara Yunaska also married here.
Mar-a-Lago is not only hotel and club but the private part-time residence of Trump, Melania, and son Barron. There is a separate wing for then in a part of the club.
The only problem is the air-routes and trump had filed lawsuits against airport to re-direct the routes of traffic to another way. But it settled with an agreement that the airport will work to mitigate noise pollution.
But Trump is a President now and he will make secret service agent to fix the air-routes. I guess. Trump also gave his victory speech as a president-elect in Mar-a-Lago.
On February 2017, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania invited his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe to Mar-a-Lago to spend a weekend and getting to know each other.