From the first Gilded Age to the second, a “charming, zippy history . . . a rollicking, informative lesson in real estate, American history, and current events.” —Town & Country
Looking at the island of Palm Beach today, with its unmatched mansions, tony shops, and pristine beaches, one is hard pressed to visualize the dense tangle of Palmetto brush and mangroves that it was when visionary entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler first arrived there in April 1893. Trusting his remarkable instincts, he built the Royal Poinciana Hotel within a year, and two years later, what was to become the legendary Breakers—instantly establishing the island as the preferred destination for those who could afford it.
Over the next 125 years, Palm Beach has become synonymous with exclusivity—especially its most famous residence, Mar-a-Lago. As Les Standiford relates, the high walls of Mar-a-Lago and other manses like it were seemingly designed to contain scandal within as much as keep intruders out.
This book tells the history of this fabled landscape intertwined with the colorful lives of its famous and infamous protagonists, from Flagler’s two wives to architect Addison Mizner, who created Palm Beach’s “Mediterranean look” to heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband E. F. Hutton, the original residents of Mar-a-Lago. With authoritative detail, Standiford recounts how Marjorie ruled Palm Beach society until her death in 1973, and how the fate of her mansion threatened to tear apart the very fabric of the town until Donald Trump acquired it in 1985.
“Edifying, energetic, and captivating.” —Florida Weekly