Palm Beach, Florida is synonymous with wealth, opulence and extravagance. Henry Morrison Flagler brought this reputation, attitude and lifestyle to the small island in the early 1900’s and left a strong legacy when he died in 1913.
Henry Flagler came to Florida due to his wife’s ailing health. However, he stayed in Florida because of business opportunities. The success of his businesses led to his winter home on Palm Beach. Does the term “snow bird” ring a bell? Flagler and his family were some of the first snow birds; meaning they fled the snow of the Northeast during the winter for warmer, more temperate weather found during Florida’s winter.
The legacy Mr. Flagler left in Florida includes hundreds of miles of railroad, an Over-Sea Railroad extending all the way to Key West, Florida, multiple hotels and a waterfront estate, now museum, in Palm Beach, Florida.
If you have read past posts, you know that we love staycations and exploring our own backyard. I finally visited the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum for the first time this summer – after living in South Florida for over five years. Better late than never.
The magnitude of Flagler’s wealth is clear upon arrival, but the story behind his wealth lies inside. While I am not going to tell you the entire Flagler story in this post – you need to visit to hear and see it for yourself – I can tell you that the Gilded Age in the US was lavish to the extreme. The Flagler Museum provides a glimpse into how this “other half” lived in the early 1900’s.
Luxurious home decor and architectural details punctuate any tour of the Flagler Museum. But while your eyes feast on the home’s decadence, the tour will also give you tantalizing tidbits about the Flagler family and a chance to peek into the history of Florida.
You can purchase tickets online or buy them upon arrival. The museum has four tour options available including docent-led, printed brochures, audio guides and even a tour that utilizes a smart phone app. I’m confident one of those options will work for you. I chose the docent-led tour. The tour lasted about 90 minutes, but I am pretty sure my incessant questions and curiosity added a solid 30 minutes to the tour. You know how I get when I am learning something new!
I left the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum shaking my head, both at the scope of wealth Flagler accrued during his lifetime and at the fact that it took me so long to tour this gem of a museum which exists in my backyard. Which makes me wonder: what else we can explore in Florida?
Disclaimer: Entrance fees to the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum were waived as part of a collaboration between Wife with Baggage and Discover the Palm Beaches. All opinions are my own. The photos used in this post are not copyrighted by Diane Williams or Wife with Baggage. All photos are the property of the Flagler Museum and used with permission.