Sunday, May 19, 2019

Family, Friends, Flagler, Fun in Florida

We have been busy around the condo slowly making it feel more like our place. (More on that in the next post.) With the place shaping up, we decided it was time for more guests. We've also tried a couple new restaurants and are enjoying the local music scene with family and friends.
We had our first dinner party with our Stuart best friends George and Nan whom we met at Betty's. They also just bought a condo this year not far from us and we have had a lot of fun together. Nanc made her famous linguine with clam sauce seafood pasta dinner and it was a huge hit.
We invited Nanc's sister Michelle and her husband Keith to come down for a visit. Unfortunately, he could not make it so Mike flew down by herself. We tried to give her the full South Florida whirlwind tour, starting with a stop on Worth Avenue to see how the 1% lives. Here are Nanc and Mike on the beach in Jupiter.
On Sunday we headed to downtown Stuart for Rock'n Riverwalk, a weekly event with a farmers market and live music. Check out the beautiful tree by the market. Having flowers blooming year round is one of the great things about living in South Florida.
Of course the ladies had to do a bit of shopping. I caught Mike with money in hand buying a much needed new purse. They also hit several of the local shops.
The band this week was Micah Scott Project and they had the riverwalk rock'n. What a great venue for a concert overlooking the St. Lucie River. 
We were glad she was here and we have an extra seat for Keith on the next visit. Being able to comfortably dine outside on the water is another great thing about our new home. 
We even have birds to entertain us at every turn. This one seemed to be waiting for a handout (a big no no) while keeping an eye on the water for a meal.
Monday we went to Jensen Beach to do more shopping and these two could not resist the chance to sit in the big chair.
We finally made it to Bathtub Reef on Hutchinson Island. The last time we tried we could not get a parking place because it was still high season. It's a neat area with a reef you can walk to at low tide and a nice beach for walking. As you can see it was a beautiful day behind us looking north....
....but looking south these ugly storm clouds were quickly blowing in. You sure don't want to be on the beach during a storm as Florida is the state that has the highest number of people killed by lightening in the country.
We saw this pillow in a shop on Worth Avenue, but resisted buying it while we had a guest with us. Tuesday, the day Mike was scheduled to leave turned into one of those "If the world gives you lemons, make lemonade", kind of days. We were all up early, ready to drive Michelle to the Palm Beach Airport when she got a message that her 11:00 AM Jet Blue flight was delayed until 1:00. That was okay we would just hang out at home a bit longer. Before we left the condo the delay was extended two more hours so we decided we could go to lunch on the way to the airport. That four hour delay became six so we had time to tour the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and one last lunch in West Palm Beach, making the best of a bad travel day for Mike.
Whitehall the 75 room, 100,000 square foot winter home of Henry Flagler was built as a gift for his third wife in 1902. They only spent six or seven weeks a year here. It was built in only 18 months and included all the modern conveniences, indoor plumbing, central heating, electricity, phones and more that were available at the time.
Henry Flagler made his fortune as one of the founders of Standard Oil. In the 1880's he came to Florida because of his wife's ill health. Seeing the potential he built the 540 room Hotel Ponce de Leon in St Augustine. He bought a small local railroad and over the years turned it into the Florida East Coast Railway which eventually became the Over-Seas Railroad going all the way to Key West. When he found St. Augustine could be chilly in the winter he built another hotel in Palm Beach in 1894. 
Whitehall is a classic example of the homes of the wealthy during the Gilded Age. The first floor has a huge grand foyer, library, music room (above), billiards hall, breakfast room, dining room, grand ball room and a parlor all to entertain guests.
The billiards room was were the men gathered to smoke and discuss business. It was one of only two rooms with a cuspidor as Mrs. Flagler did not like the habit.
The 3,200 square foot Grand Ball Room was the second largest room after the foyer.
After the Flaglers both died, an eleven story, 250 room hotel was built onto Whitehall. The hotel was open from 1925 to 1959. This was the lobby of the hotel. 
The dining hall was not large enough to accommodate all the guests who stayed in the 12 guest rooms. Only Flagler's best friends ate here while others were transported to his nearby hotel that had a huge dining room. I guess he knew how to let people know where they stood with him.
The parlor with a baby grand piano that was built especially for Mrs. Flagler who loved music. The music room also had a pipe organ. 
Several of the rooms have painted ceilings of Greek and Roman gods. The trim around this painting was aluminum leaf which was more expensive at the time than gold leaf.
Three of the second floor guest rooms which were facing east to get the warm morning sun. Each room was decorated with a different theme.
Nanc and Michelle in the Flagler's master suite. It was on the Southwest corner so it would get the winter sun for most of the day.
The master bath had it all; double bowl sink, toilet, tub and shower. There was even a phone on the opposite wall.
The servants had rooms on the second and third floors. Some were staff who traveled with the Flagers as they moved to each of their four houses each year. Others were permanent staff who stayed at Whitehall to maintain the property. 
In 2005 a pavilion was built to house Henry's personal rail car #91. This was the car he traveled to Key West in when the Over-Seas Railroad was completed in 1912.
When Whitehall was built the view across Lake Worth was of the Everglades. Today it is West Palm Beach and a marina for yachts. Believe it or not these were not the biggest yachts we saw docked here. 
We had a little more time to kill before going to the airport so we did a drive by of Mar-a Lago Club, the winter retreat for the rich and famous including President Trump. This was as close as we could get without activating the alarm for the secret service. We had a great visit with Michelle and feel like our new home is a welcoming place for friends and family.
On Friday evening we had one last get together with George and Nan before they head to Connecticut for the summer. We went to Terra Fermata, a great local music venue we discovered last year. It is outdoor and they only serve drinks. We went across the street and got Thai takeout for dinner and got to hear two great bands, The Shakers and Blues Beatles. It was a fun evening and we are already planning for our return next fall.

1 comment:

Bobbie and Jim said...

I was raised in Lake Worth, just south of West Palm Beach. It was fun to see some of my old stomping grounds. Bobbie