COTE DE TEXAS: Mar A Lago: Before & After of the New Winter White House

Mar A Lago: Before & After of the New Winter White House

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Since we now have a Winter White House in the news – the Palm Beach estate Mar A Lago - I thought we would take a look at its history.  Mar A Lago was bought by President Donald Trump, and his then wife Ivana, from the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post.  When she died in 1973 she bequeathed the estate to the United States government, in hopes that it would become the Winter White House.  She was probably thinking about the Kennedy’s own Winter White House at Palm Beach when she made this gift.   Originally, Post had tried to leave the estate to Florida, but when state officials were presented with an exact accounting of the annual maintenance fee – Florida declined her generous gift.  She was terrified that her beloved Mar A Lago would be razed after her death and she turned to the federal government for support, who agreed to accept the estate. 



Nevertheless, when then President Jimmy Carter came to office, he didn’t want to pay the reported annual $1 million upkeep on the property and he politely returned it to her heirs – Post’s three daughters.   Actually, a $3 million trust had been set up to cover the maintenance costs – which were really around $268,000 year.    The government also objected to the fact that the estate was under a flight path, making it unsuitable to be a Winter White House – for security reasons.    Post would have been very upset about the final decision to return the estate.  She had lobbied hard to have the government accept her gift,  inviting members of the various committees that would make the deciding decision to Mar A Lago for overnight stays where she entertained them in her usual high fashion.  Even then First Lady Lady Bird Johnson came to stay and was placed in her daughter Dina Merrill’s fancy childhood bedroom suite.  Johnson later wrote that Post had taken her on a complete tour of the estate, pointing out all the details of its design.    In the end, it was President Nixon who signed the bill accepting Mar A Lago as the Winter White House.     


At the time Trump bought the estate, Mar A Lago was considered a White Elephant:  It had been left vacant for over 12 years and was in need of a renovation.   Post’s heirs sold it to Trump after a long, protracted series of negotiations.  Initially they wanted $23 million for it, but known for The Art of the Deal, Trump paid only $7 million for the property, plus $3 million for the furnishings.  It was a steal.  


Above:  Palm Beach today – the estate is shown in red.  Across from the house is the Mar A Lago Swim Club at the beach which Trump built.  A tunnel runs below the boulevard to connect the house to the beach club.  At the very left of the photograph is the new Ballroom that Trump also erected.  It is the largest ballroom on the island and is in much demand for weddings and society events.   At the back of the estate is Lake Worth or the Intercostal Waterway, as it is known today.



Trump and his then wife Ivana purchased the estate in 1985 and for a decade it was used as a private home.  Originally Trump didn’t use the house much at all and he didn’t seem to care for it.  In 1990, after owning it for five years – he said he had gone there only a dozen times.   But that all changed.

Initially Trump wanted to turn the estate in smaller parcels, building five houses on the estate, but the town of Palm Beach refused this outright.  Instead, in 1995, Trump opened the Mar A Lago Club, after a long fight with Palm Beach.  The club accepts both Jews and African-Americans, two groups that most Palm Beach social clubs exclude.  He won his bid to open the private club after sending city councilmen two movies about discrimination:  “A Gentleman’s Agreement”about anti-Semitism starring Gregory Peck  and “Guess Who is Coming To  Dinner” about interracial marriage.  Trump may have won the fight to open the Mar A Lago Club, but over the years there have been many other lawsuits brought both by him and against him:  one lawsuit involved the size of his flag pole, another regards the flight path of planes over the club.  Mar a Lago has been a successful investment. The gamble for Trump paid off, as last year he made over $15 million from the Mar A Lago Club, according to filings for his presidential race.  Before he won the presidency, it cost $100,000 to join the Mar A Lago Club and another $14,000 a year in dues.  Now, the initiation fee is said to have been raised to $200,000.  It’s also rumored that the hottest job in town is as a waiter at Mar A Lago.  And now, Trump seems to enjoy his house immensely.  Whenever he is in town and a wedding or event is taking place in the ballroom – he stops by for a photograph with his usual smile and thumbs-up.  It’s as if he enjoys the house more now that it is filled up with people.  



The house, and it was designed as a private home, was built in 1924-1927 by Marjorie Merriweather Post.   Born in 1887, she was an only child of 27 when she inherited the Post Cereal Company from her parents.  Eventually she parlayed that company into General Foods.  She was said to be the richest woman in the country.  Post married and divorced four men, including E.F. Hutton, with whom she built Mar A Lago and had one daughter, the actress Dina Merrill.



In addition to Mar A Lago, Post also owned Hillwood, now a museum in Washington D.C, a summer camp in New York’s Adirondacks, and the largest private yacht in the world.  Her life revolved around the seasons which dictated where she lived and when.   Post actually spent only six weeks out of the year at Mar A Lago – from New Years to George Washington’s birthday.  Six weeks.  



At the time when she proposed building Mar A Lago, Post was living in another, smaller house on Palm Beach.  She hired architect Marion Sims Wyeth to design her dream house and asked Joseph Urban to create the interiors.  It was located on 20 acres that reached from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Worth - its name is Spanish for “Sea to Lake.” In 1980, Mar A Lago was designated a National Historic Landmark.


  A photo of the house being built.  Here you can see the tower when it was erected.

The house initially had 118 rooms but under Trump it has grown larger to 126 rooms.  When the house was built, the living room had so much gold leaf, the entire supply in the country was depleted.  The house is filled with untold luxury, no expense was spared when it was built.  The finery starts at the very front  – surrounding the entrance gates are tiles dating back from the 15th century.


1930’s:  Here, you can see that originally the beach was an empty plot of sand.  Later Post built a heated, saltwater pool there.   Post resisted building the swimming pool for years because she didn’t like to sunbathe – she thought it ruined your skin.    Today, there is a large swimming pool club with cabanas that members can rent for overnight stays.   To the left of the house is Palm Beach’s exclusive Pool and Tennis Club.  The Huttons donated a portion of their land to the Palm Beach Pool & Tennis Club and were instrumental in it being built, a few years before Mar A Lago was finished.  Their architect also built the neighboring club and a tunnel runs from Mar a Lago to both the club and their own beach property.   From this view – you can see that the estate was once covered by native trees.  Today – much of this growth is gone and the large estate has been overtaken with needed parking lots to handle the large social events that take place at the ballrooms. 


A later view shows the house with the heated, saline swimming pool at the beach the Post eventually built.  There are yellow and white striped cabanas that match the ones up at the house’s terrace.  Here you can see the small ballroom she built behind the house on the left and on the right, she added tennis courts.


  1928:  A very early photo of the house when it was first built.


  1928:  The open air terrace which is now closed in and next to it is the “Baby’s House.”  Early on, the landscaping was not grown in and the house looked very bare.  All these scrub trees are no longer here – they were later removed by Post and replaced with palm trees.

When Trump bought Mar A Lago, it needed restoring, which was done rather sympathetically.  Today, the main rooms look much as they once did, save the furnishings.   Before the Mar A Lago Club was opened in 1995, Trump had an auction selling off many of the pricey and delicate antiques  and furnishings that Post had bought for Mar A Lago, later replacing them with reproductions.   By having the sale, the house was cleared out to make room for the anticipated throng of members.  Once the club was opened, the Trumps continued to use the house as if it was still a private home. 

The Trumps spend every Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Easter there, along with most winter weekends.   Trump stays in a part of the house that is closed off from the public, while his children stay in the large bungalows on the property.  Ivanka’s favorite room is the Banyan Bungalow.   The room where Trump’s mother always stayed has a permanent sign written “Mary” on its door.   In her divorce degree, Ivana won the right to stay at Mar a Lago for one month out of the year.  Later she bought two houses on the island, the largest one where she lived was recently sold after she announced she wanted to downsize.   Some reports state that Ivana has a minority ownership in Mar A Lago, but I couldn’t confirm that.   Ivana’s Italian ex-husband that she had married in 2008 at Mar a Lago, opened a pizzeria in town earlier this year.  And Trump’s two sisters also have houses there.  The Judge once lived directly next to Mar A Lago, but she has since moved a bit further away to another house down the road.   Since becoming President, Trump has spent three out of four weekends there.


When Post owned the house, it changed very little over the years.  She did add a small ballroom since she loved to square dance – every Thursday, she held a dance.  Trump later added another ballroom, much larger than Post’s in order to host grand weddings and social events.  His new grand ballroom has 40’ ceilings and its walls were said to have $7 million worth of gold leaf applied to them.  The bathrooms near the ballroom have gold plated fixtures that cost over $100,000.  Post liked to gold and there is a Pitch & Putt course on the back lawn.  For games of 18 hole golf, Trump leases over 200 acres of scrubland from the city where he has built a large and very lavish golf club.  Additionally, he added a swimming pool to the back of  Mar A Lago, along with the one at the beach.  He also built a spa and a beauty salon on the property.  And, there are now five clay tennis courts,  plus a croquet court which is located on the front lawn.  

The old guard of Palm Beach might have initially been against the brash New York businessman, but today, Mar A Lago is filled during high season.


The President and First Lady in the living room at Mar A Lago.


Security is now quite visible at Mar A Lago.

The house itself is hurricane proof thanks to Post’s careful engineering.   It was built of concrete and steel and was anchored to the coral reef that sits underneath its acreage.  The house was built in the Hispano-Moresque style, popular in this part of Florida.  The rear façade is a crescent shape with upper and lower cloisters that overlook Lake Worth and the new swimming pool.   Post wanted beautiful views from both the front and back of the house.   Its iconic tower is 75’ tall and the view of the island from up there is spectacular.   The exterior is constructed of Dorian stone.  Since stone is not naturally found on the island,  it was brought over in three boatloads from Genoa, Italy.   You can see tiny seashells and fossils imbedded in the stone, which is known for its ability to be easily carved.  Post purchased over 36,000 decorative tiles from Mrs. Horace Havemeyer who had collected the tiles in the 1800s, some of which were made in the 15th century.   The initial order called for 20,000 tiles – but Post was surprised when she opened the crates and discovered an extra 15,000 tiles.  The architect, Marion Wyeth, worked closely with Post to create a house that matched her exact dreams.  Joseph Urban, another architect, came from Vienna, where he had worked for the Emperor Franz Joseph.  Readers of this blog will remember the house the Emperor bought for his long-time mistress and where the parents of the Chanel Ambassador Caroline Sieber now live today HERE.  It’s a small world!

Another artisan from Vienna was Franz Barwig who spent three years sculpting Mar A Lago’s stone, creating parrots, monkeys and other figures, that are, today, still visible at the house.   He brought 300 artisans from Europe to work on the house.  The extensive ironwork found on the estate was cast in West Palm Beach, and all the cypress for doors and beams was also bought locally.   The roof consisted of 20,000 tiles that came from an estate in Cuba, along with the 2200 sq. ft. of black and white marble floor.  Carloads of stones that Post had collected in New York were driven down to Florida for the back terrace.  They were laid out in a pattern that Post had seen at Alhambra in Spain.



The central design of the house has a two story center section, with family quarters on the left side and service areas on the right.   The house is said to have 58 bedrooms, but only 12 were actually built as guest-suites because Post didn’t want to entertain  more than that as overnight guests.  The remaining rooms were for family and household help.   Each of the guest suites and family bedrooms were furnished in a completely different decorative style. The Versailles Room, the master bedroom, was extravagantly French Baroque. The Venetian Room featured antique mirrors and crystal from Murano. The Dutch Room had antique Delft tiles, while the English Room was an homage to historic Williamsburg.   Post’s daughter Nedenia, later known as Dina Merrill, had a bedroom based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty.  After the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping, Post had an iron gate installed on her windows and body guards were stationed outside the entrance to the “Baby’s House.”   Post was so scared of something happening to Dina that she was always accompanied by two security guards until she turned 18, when she begged her mother to be free of the “Pinks” – as she called her Pinkerton guards.   Post employed a staff of 60 and during High Season, there were 80 employees.  She also had 14 people who worked security.   During the Korean War, she built 3 bomb shelters underneath the house.  All this was for a house where Post spent just six weeks a year at. 


A 1955 view of Mar A Lago before the beach club and pool were built by Trump.    Seen here, to the left of the house is the large Palm Beach Bath and Tennis Club. 


  Today:   A current view shows the estate with the beach and pool club on the ocean side and the new swimming pool behind the house.  To the left of the house is the large ballroom Trump built, along with the five tennis courts. 


Today:  This beautiful view shows the Beach & Pool Club that Trump created across from Mar A Lago. Behind the house is the view of Lake Worth.  At the left of the house is the new large ballroom, along with the new tennis courts and tennis clubhouse behind it.


Before:  In the 1960’s, a series of black and white photographs of both the interior and exterior of the house were taken.  Here is the front façade.  At the far left is Baby’s House, as Dina’s rooms were called.  And in the middle with the striped awning is the open air terrace, later covered with a white roof for year round dining.  As you can see, thirty years after it was built – the landscaping was fully grown in.


Before:  An early color view of the façade when still owned by Post.   To the left of the large living room window is the once open air terrace with an umbrella.  Past the terrace is Dina’s Baby’s House and then the Owner’s House where the Trumps now live.  On the far right, back side of the house, past the servants and kitchen wing, is the original tennis court that today is a parking lot.  Past the tennis court is the stucco garage – that remains today (see below.)



And today:  The front façade shows new croquet court out front.  The small white tent is the observation area for the croquet players.  The front door is off to the side of the house underneath the Porte Cochere.  At the rear is the original garage and the parking lot that now covers the Post’s tennis court.


In this large photo you can even see the pattern of the yellow & black stones on the terrace.   This might have been taken in the off season of summer when the grass was in dying from the sun.  It looks really bad and usually it is completely well manicured.  It might even have been taken after a hurricane.  One thing about Trump’s properties – he is emphatic about keeping them in tip-top shape – so this is not typical at all.



Here you can see the beautiful, well manicured landscaping.  This front glass window is in the living room alcove and it was so large that the train transporting it from the north had to be rerouted to avoid low bridges and tunnels.   The entire procedure had to be repeated when the glass broke while it was being installed!!  Notice the upper eaves on the right – underneath, those are actually carved RAMS HEADS!   There is no detail too small!!  It’s amazing.



Here is a close up of the rams heads.  And notice that the rafters on the eaves are painted in a pattern!!  Below the balcony, the stone is also carved.  This balcony is in the “Spanish” guest room.


A view of the covered dining terrace and the observation booth at the croquet court.  See how well manicured the grass is here? 



An early view of the back of the house before there was the Trump installed swimming pool.  The back is crescent shaped with upper and lower cloisters.  Off the lower level is a large terrace with twin staircases that lead down to the lawn.


A closer view of the back of the house before Trump owned it.   At the left is the kitchen and service wing.  On the very end with the pointed roof is the “Secretary’s Cottage.”   Today, it is the Spa.


And today:  You can see the new swimming pool and to the left of it is the spa and beauty salon. At the right is the smaller ballroom that Post built.   Do you like the lawn with the swimming pool or without, like it was before?  I personally like the swimming pool!!


A closer view.  Along the crescent is the top cloister and the bottom cloister that leads out to the stone terrace.   Twin staircases come down from the terrace.  At the very far right is the Owners House, where the Trumps live.  At the Trump’s suite – the curved wall with the arched windows is where the famous pink marble master bathroom is.  Amazing photos further down below. 


Here is a view from the 80s, blurry, side view of the house.  You can see at the side – the garage is there with the open doors.  This is before it was made into the salon.  There is no Trump ballroom yet.


And the side view today.   The ballroom is now built.  Where the garage was – that building next to it now has a striped yellow awning where guest rooms are.   The parking lots are hidden behind the trees.  But still, what was once a huge lot – 20 acres – it seems much smaller today because of the parking issues.



Here are the original floorplans for Mr. Edward F. Hutton.  No mention is made of Mrs. Hutton – who actually helped design the house, inspired by the many castles and estates she had visited in Europe – and who actually paid for the house.   


And the upper level.


  Post had a Pitch & Putt golf course at Mar A Lago and – at all her properties.  The course is still there today.


Marjorie Merriweather Post with daughter Mrs. Stanley Rumbough, aka actress Dina Merrill, and granddaughter Nedenia in the living room of Mar A Lago.


And Marjorie Merriweather Post in the lower cloister.


Here, Post hosted the Republican Executive Committee – a sign of things to come????  Notice the batik fabric on the settee!


Today:  Surrounding the gates are the antique tiles from the 15th century.  For some reason the lanterns are covered here.


  Today:  This is now a typical scene at the gates.  When Trump is in town, the traffic in this small town is terrible and neighbors are complaining about long delays.  But, conversely, many citizens are very happy about the increased security in the area.


Past the gates, the drive leads up to the Porte Cochere and the side/front door.  These lanterns really are charming!!


Before:  The drive passes to the side of the house, under the Porte Cochere.   The front door is  located here at the side of the house.  To the right, is a two story guest house.    Originally the area above the Porte Cochere was open air – but now Trump has enclosed it and it has several beds there.  The brides use this room for make-up application.


Before:  The front/side door to the estate – where everybody enters.


Today.  This is where you will see the press photos of the First Family.  Here, the Trumps pose with the Prime Minister of Japan and his wife.   The family will come out this doorway for the photo ops, even though their rooms are on the opposite side of the house.  I suspect this is the only place the select press is allowed.   At some time after Trump bought the house – these black iron railings with the Mar a Lago crest were installed here – probably for the elderly members?  You can see before that there were no railings.  Additionally, there are now large lanterns.  Much of the lighting fixtures were changed in the house.


In this view – you can see the carvings of men in the columns.  Around the house there are charming carvings of different animals, even monkeys, some of whom are reading books!


Ivanka and her husband Jared leave the front/side entrance.


Before:   Once inside, you come to the entrance hall – as it was under Post.  At the right is the conical fireplace.  You enter the living room from here and the cloak rooms are off the entry hall to the right.  The floor is tile with a white marble border.  On the walls are plaques with crowns and the lighting fixtures are a mix of stars and lanterns.  Those stars!!!!  Love!!!


The view towards the living room.  Spanish styled chairs line the walls.  One long rug covers the floor.  Today the reception desk sits at the right.


Today:  – with new red and gold chairs that replace Post’s Spanish chairs.  These used to be covered in white fabric.   Also, there are two smaller rugs.  The busts remain as do the lighting fixtures.  Whew!  I actually like the pop of red here, but the gold is bit too much.   At the right is the reception desk.


Today:  And the view back towards the front door.


A close up of the tiled fireplace and busts. 


The reception desk.


And the President tweeted this photo of him working on his inauguration speech at the reception desk.  Those tiles are incredible!!!  


Today:  The large, amazingly, carved doors that open to the living room.    Notice the gold putti on the doors.


Before:   From the 1960s.   Once you enter the living room, the back door to the terrace is at the right.  The two tall lamps in the center are still in the room today, but much of the other furniture here is now gone, sold at an auction that Christie’s held.   Notice the two matching chests that flank the back door.  These are amazing – Louis XIV marquetry - but they were sold at Christie’s  for $74,000. The room was once filled with antique chairs – French, Italian and Spanish, but no longer.  At the back of the room is the large, conical fireplace.


Before:  And looking at the other direction – the door at the left leads to the back terrace.  Toward the rear is the entrance hall and the front/side door at the Porte Cochere.   The living room ceiling is a copy of the "Thousand-Wing Ceiling" in the Accademia in Venice.  On the walls are 7 rare silk needlework panels – cut down from one panel - from a Venetian Palace.  The chandeliers are Bristol from France that were bought in a New Orleans antique shopssss.   Post used one large rug in this room. 


Ivana posed for Town & Country Magazine in the foyer to the living room.


The President was a young man when he moved into Mar a Lago – he was just 39 years old!   In a weird coincidence – Post herself turned 40 a few days after she first moved into Mar a Lago.   Early on – the Trumps first used the original rug from the Post decor.   The 17th century rug came from a Spanish Monastery but was later sold at the Christie’s auction.  It was the highest priced item – and went for $79,500.  Originally Post had curtains at the two windows that flank the back door.  Later, these were removed, too. 


The original rug. 



The brochure from the 1995 Christie’s sale.  Trump bought the house in 1985.  In 1995, it became a private club.  In that year – the sale was held, ridding the public rooms of the “delicate” accessories and furniture.

This four panel screen from Mar A Lago was sold at Christie’s and later came up for resale in an antique shop.  Love.



1993:  Before the sale.  Afterwards, this room was cleared out of most of these accessories and furniture.   At this time, the Post rug was replaced with two smaller rugs – these didn’t last long either and the chests are now gone too.   Notice the beautiful floor pattern.    In the center of the room were two back to back sofas with a console between them.  Each public room leads off the living room – through the alcoved and curtained corners.   The living room is 30 x 60 and is covered in gold leaf.  Notice the curved gold Spanish settee – that was sold, which is a shame.   Also notice the painted Italian piece along the back wall.  This was also sold, which is so sad!! – I love that piece.  Later, the console between the sofas was moved along the back wall.   And notice the ceiling!   It’s incredible.  The room is truly like a Venetian museum. 


1993.  A close up of the floor – wood marquetry with a marble border.  The dining room is through the arch.  


A photoshoot with Trump and his then wife Marla Maples.   The open door leads to the back terrace.   I have to say this – I think Trump was really smitten with Marla.   I’ve spent a week looking at photos of these two and you can just see from his body language – he seems really, truly in love with her.


Another view facing the Italian antique.  Notice the lantern hanging in the alcove to the dining room.


To the right is a set of steps that lead up to the front loggia that runs the 60’ length of the room.  This is where the extremely large, front window is that was broken when it first installed.  At the left, facing the fireplace, see the pool table that was placed there – for a short while.   The wood marquetry floor is so pretty – but later, it is completely covered up with a new rug!  Shame!


And here is a young Ivanka playing pool.   The pool table didn’t last long.  It must have been moved to another area of the house.




And now after 1995, the antiques and delicate furnishings are auctioned off to make the club more usable for the crowds.  Here Trump poses on the new rug.



Today.  Photos show the living room looking very, very sparse after the auction.  This view looks out towards the back to the crescent shaped terrace that overlooks Lake Worth.   The new large rug with a color band around it covers the entire wood floor.  To the left is the original Post piano.  The dining room is off to the right alcove.   The original library/now bar is off to the left alcove.  Matching lanterns hang in the alcoves.   The new furniture arrangement is a bit weird – with the back to back sofas that aren’t really touching.   A round table in the middle would be better – with the sofas pushed further away from each other.    And now, the Post curtains over the back windows are gone.



Today.  Another view towards the back terrace.  Notice the two windows that flank the door.  They look almost like vitrines.  At the left is the large conical fireplace.   It’s impossible to notice all the detail that is imbedded in the walls!!    The design of the room is very symmetric.


A close up of the back window that looks like a vitrine.


Today.   And facing the fireplace.  To the left are the stairs that lead to the front window/loggia.  Inside that loggia is room for several dining tables and a set of spiral stairs that leads upstairs.



  And here, today, press conferences are held in the living room.


The detail the door and arch is amazing. 


During Christmas, the tree is set up between the sofas.  Sometimes it is put up in the loggia.   You can see the color band on the rug here – it’s such a shame that the entire floor is now covered by the rug. 


INSPIRATION:  Here is the original ceiling that inspired Post - the "Thousand-Wing Ceiling" in the Accademia in Venice.  The ceiling at Mar A Lago is truly a faithful reproduction of this famous one.   She even reproduced the aspect that comes down to the crown molding.


Post’s piano that remains today.  Hmm.  No comment.   OK,  I’ll comment.  Trump sells all those gorgeous chairs and settees and cabinets – but keeps THIS?!?!?!?!




Melania Trump in front of the large console table which replaced the antique Italian cabinet that Post had placed here.  You can see the original silk tapestry that hangs behind it.    These are Post’s lamps.


The fireplace – you can see the large scale in the room by how tiny the piano looks!




The ONLY photo I could find of the entire view of the front wall of the room – facing the front lawn.  Up the set of stairs is the marble floor loggia that is 60’ long.  On each side of the center stair section is an arched “window” that opens from the loggia to the living room – with a lantern visible.  You can see there is a spiral stair that leads up to the second level of the loggia.   The Mar A Lago sets up dining tables in the loggia.  In this view – you can really see the symmetry of the room.   The silk tapestry was cut into seven sections that fit the different spaces in the wall around the room.  Here, are two sections.


A view of the loggia and the center set of stairs.   When I look at this furniture, the reproductions, and compare it to all the antique chairs and chests that were once in the room, I’m depressed!  I don’t understand why Trump felt he had to sell all the original furniture!!


The front window in the living room loggia.  From the outside – this is the center window of the loggia, where the glass had to be shipped by train from Pennsylvania, avoiding low bridges and tunnels along the way.  The glass broke during installation and the entire process of the transporting the glass had to be repeated.


Up the marble steps – Trump poses in the center section of the loggia.  The center lantern was replaced with this crystal chandelier.


A black and white view of the center section.


A night time view.


From the front window you can see the beach.  Notice how the house and lawn was designed specifically so that when you were in the house, you don’t see the cars or the street that is between the house and the beach – you just see the beach!!  


A view of the right loggia, past the center loggia.   A small caned French antique chair that  remains from the Post decor. 



Originally, a tiger skin rug was placed by Post in the loggia.  It is also long gone now.



In the loggia - the spiral stairs that reach up to the balcony.  Notice the ceiling with the men on the tiles.


Here, a dinner party was set up in the glorious living room.



And just last Sunday, another press conference in the living room!   Notice the Secret Service outside the door.  Last weekend, the members were told the club was closed – which it almost never is and some members were quite upset.  One was interviewed who said he ate at the club every single Saturday night and he was really angry that the club was closed just because the President was in town.  I wonder if this why Trump chose not to go this weekend – the first weekend this month?  Maybe he will start going to Camp David instead.  Things are going to get a bit complicated for the members, I think.


And then there was this.  In 2007 the Mar-a-Lago Furniture Collection was announced with great fanfare.  The reproduction furniture, supposedly based on Mar-a-Lago pieces was a partnership between Lexington Furniture and Trump.


The furniture was really awful, just traditional pieces that is typical of any mid priced line.  There was nothing in the collection that resembled anything that Post had bought for Mar A Lago.  Today, on Trump’s web site, his furniture is a collaboration with Dorya Furniture, which looks much more upscale and attractive that this Lexington collection.  But, the “Trump Lighting” on their website is just a collection from a google and Amazon search.   The  collaboration between Trump and Lexington is over.   But, fear not.  There is a “Kensington Palace” Lexington collection. 


Before:  The original dining room – with its black and white marble floor was inspired by the Chigi Palace in Rome.  The dining table was considered the most exquisite piece in the house.  Commissioned by Post, the table is inlaid marble and was constructed by the School of the Medici in that city.  Fifteen artists worked for over a year on the table inlaying it with semi precious stones.  In the end, the table weighed over 4,000 pounds.  It was stated in Post’s will that the table was to be returned to her museum at Hillwood, where it resides today.


  Before:  A view of the tabletop.




Ivana Trump had a reproduction table made for the dining room.  Post had an enormous collection of dinnerware:  Capo di Monte china and Venetian glasses that were appraised by Christie’s to be worth $1,000 per stem.  These look like her blue glasses.  But, these chairs – a set of 30 - were included in the Christie’s sale.  The set were sold for $57,500.


  At $1,000 a stem, I have a feeling these glasses are long gone, as is the gilt tableware.


1993.   Here round tables are used instead of the long table.  The walls are painted with seascapes copied from the Chigi Palace.   This window overlooks the side entrance at the Porte Cochere.  I miss the green chairs Trump sold. 


Here the original chairs are – they are softer looking in the room than the black ones.   A reproduction table was bought for this room when the original table was shipped back.   The tulip chandeliers are original.   Again, a new rug totally covers the floor which is a shame because the black and white marble floor is so beautiful.  SAD!  I mean – it came from an estate in Cuba!!


It almost looks as if the walls are gold here.  The floors were showing here!



The room set with round tables.   Again, when lit, the painted walls look golden.   This view is towards the living room.  And now the black chairs are gone too!  And this is a different rug – maybe a newer wall to wall rug.


And here is a close up of the painted walls.  I found the original dining room in the Palazzo Chigi in Room that inspired Mrs. Post’s own dining room.   See below!


INSPIRATION:  Here is the original dining room that inspired Post.   Located on the second floor of the Palazzo Chigi in Rome, the walls were painted by the French artist Adrien Manglard.   The scenes depicted were seascapes and forests.  Isn’t this a faithful reproduction?!!   I’m so excited I found this!!! 


INSPIRATION:   Another view of the Palazzo Chigi’s dining room.  This room was recently restored.  There are just a very, very few photos of this room and it must be truly obscure.  I wonder how Post ever even SAW it??!?!   But you can see, it was a very close reproduction of the murals.   Additionally, the Mar A Lago dining room is much more luxurious than the original Palazzo!!!


Before:  The Library.  Located right off the living room is the dark paneled library.  Filled with English antiques – none of these pieces remain today. 


Today, the library is used as the bar. 


The bar leads into the terrace which was originally open air.  It overlooks the front lawn and it was covered in the 1960s by Post.  At the left, you can see the dining terrace through the glass doors.   A painting of Trump is hanging on the library’s wall.  At the back of the library, a bar was added for club members.


Today:  For a photoshoot with Hola Magazine, young Barron was photographed in the library/bar.  You can see the beautifully carved mantel and paneling in this darling picture.  So cute!!   The one room with a plain wood floor is the room with no rug!   Weird!


Called the tent room, the once open-air terrace is now used for dining.  At its right is the “Baby’s House.”


Today:   The view of the front lawn from the tent room.  Notice again how you can not see So. Ocean  Blvd. from the house!  You just see the lawn and the beach – it’s as if the street isn’t even there.   Apparently, Ivana wanted the house to be seen from the street – so she had the tall hedge around the house cut down some.    


During a wedding – all the Jewish couples come to the tent dining room to sign the Ketubah.   Through the doors is the “Monkey Loggia” – there are no pictures of this loggia, though.



Mrs. E.F. Hutton and Nedenia Hutton aka Dina Merrill –  Post is wearing her incredible Cartier emerald pin:



This pin is one of the more famous Cartier pieces made.  There are 7 carved Indian emeralds – the main one is from the 17th century Mughal Period.  Attached is the original drawing for the design.   The pin was her most favorite piece of jewelry.


Above is the original Owner’s House where Post lived and now the President lives.  On the second floor – the round room is the master bathroom.




Before:  The entrance to the Owner’s House is off the cloister.  Mrs. Hutton posing in front of it.


The entrance to the Trumps rooms is a very popular place to pose.  Notice these original charming lanterns.  They are gone today!  Today there are handrails place here.  Later the brass posts were painted black.  


See what I mean?   New lanterns.   Today, there is also a new rug and the furniture is freshly upholstered.  Also, there are new pots.  In one interview, Trump told a local paper this was his favorite spot on Palm Beach Island! 


This is a very popular place to pose.   Here, Ivanka is posing with her daughter.


And I don’t know who they are, but all the brides pose here too!  Check out his shoes.



Here are the new black lanterns.  Why????   This truly is a very beautiful entry.  To the right – are the stairs that lead down to the Post Ballroom.


OK.  Finally – they got smart and put a NO TRESPASSING rope against the door. 


  The lower cloister – here is the end of it on the left side.  At the left is the Trump Entry and the stairs that lead down to the Post Ballroom which you can see behind the chairs.


The Owners Suite has a few rooms and two main bedrooms.  The first room is the Pine Hall sitting room with painted murals above the wainscot.


Here, in this beautiful color photo of the Pine Hall – you can see how pretty the mural really is! 

No current pictures of this room! 


Before:  The master bedroom was totally French.  This room looks almost identical to her French bedroom at Hillwood. 


And across from the bed is the fireplace.


And here is how it looked later.  The floor is wood with marble baseboards.  There are linen inserts above the wainscot.  The fabrics have been changed since Posts time.  But it looks like the rug is the same.


And – today, this is how the Trumps room looks.  Very Trump!  The linen insets are now covered in a damask wallpaper.  The chandelier was changed for some reason?



The bed.  Hard to imagine both tall Trumps in this double bed.  Which brings me to this.  A reporter was shown this room and the tour guide showed him behind a door - the room where the couple really sleeps – which is probably the second bedroom in the suite – the Norwegian Room.  (no photos!)  He reported the bedroom was much more plain than this one and looked like a hotel room.


Before:  The bathroom is amazing.  All marble.



Today:  And here it is today – it looks basically the same.  All marble.  I love the fireplace in the bathroom.


And here in the oval end of the bathroom, Trump and Marla.  It’s funny how his hair went from brown to blonde!?  OK OK – I’ll be quiet.


This was a huge surprise.  I had never seen this side of the bathroom before – and had no idea it had the round end!!


Post used this as her office.  But obviously, it is now the makeup area.  Oops – Marla’s chair is still there!


And off the bedroom is this half round balcony, with Melania on the chaise longue!  Along with the two bedrooms, there are several other rooms in this house, but no photos at all.


1928:  This original photo is the only one I could find that shows the area between the Owner’s House and the Baby’s House.


And today.   At the very left is the Owner’s House and hidden behind the shrubs is the Baby’s House.


Before:  Dina’s bedrooms were known as the Baby’s House. Beside the bedroom, there was a playroom and the nurse’s room and baths, and the sleeping porch.  Everything in the room has a storybook theme, including the rug.


Today:  The room looks almost exactly the same, including the rug.  Notice the squirrels on the top of the bed posts.  On the doors are huge faux hinges.


And the end of the room is another half-round.  The rug  has Sleeping Beauty’s castle on it.



Plaster roses cover the fireplace.   More fairytales on the brass plates.


This was Ivanka’s room when she was a little girl.


And Ivana used it to pose for a magazine cover.


And Ivanka’s daughter is now posing in the room too!


The tiles in the bathroom are nursery rhymes.   For years, Trump told people that a “young” Walt Disney designed these tiles, but Disney actually did no work on the house, at all. 


And  the original bath, with later safety handles added.



The house has a number of guest rooms and suites, each with its own theme. 


The Dutch Room was for Post’s mother who loved Delft tiles which were included on the fireplace and around the room.  No current photo



  1960s.  The hall, off the upper cloister,  that leads to the Spanish, Venetian and Adams bedrooms.


This newer view shows the tile wainscot, skylight, and arched ceiling.


Looking the opposite direction to the exit to the cloister.  I love this vestibule!!  Or hallway!!  It’s one of my favorite spaces in the house.   This cream chairs are pairs to the ones in the entry hall – originally those now red chairs had cream fabric like this, too.


Before:    At the end of the hall is - The Spanish Bedroom.  It has a corner balcony and a sleeping porch, along with a beamed ceiling.   This is the room with the corner balcony that overlooks the front lawn. 



Today:  The Spanish bedroom has a new rug.  Notice the tiled base molding.   The ceiling is really beautiful, but the fireplace is amazing.




Ivana poses in front of the amazing fireplace with its row of figures inside the arcaded cloister!!!



Before:  The Adams Room is in the style of the English Adams Brothers.  The room’s rug mimics the ceiling detail.   Beautiful chandelier.   Gone.  In fact, everything in this beautiful room is now gone.


Later, the twin beds were exchanged for one large bed.  Love the French chairs and settee. 


Today, the elegant furniture, rug, and chandelier is now gone, replaced with reproduction furniture and a new chandelier.   Brides use the room to get dressed in.   The bed was moved in front of the windows.   Those faux gold marble niches are just wrong.   Look how pretty the room was – decorated in 1928 versus today.  The same wall to wall rug seen all over the house covers the floor.  Bill Clinton once stayed in this room – when he came to play golf.


Another view of the room.    Hmm.  I hate to say this – but for such an expensive stay, this room looks just bad, except for the chandelier and fireplace and original moldings and ceiling detail.  I wonder if this furniture is left over from the Lexington Furniture business endeavor?   The rooms for non-members cost around $2000 a night. 


Here you can see the chandelier.  At least the ceiling remains.   These windows overlook  the Porte Cochere, see below.



Above, are the Adams Room three windows and below is the dining room, right next to the Porte Cochere.  At the very left is the bridge over the Porte Cochere, now enclosed and used by brides.


Before:  The Venetian room has the Venetian mirrors and chandelier.  This room connects to the Adams Room and brides use it for photoshoots.  The mirrors are long gone, replaced with reproductions.  The charming sconces are gone too.  So is the rug.  And the Venetian chandelier!!!  Why!!??!  The painting and mantel do remain.


The room today – the mantel is the same.  So is the painting.  Otherwise – it’s all new.  Ivanka and her sister-in-law Vanessa.


There is a French roundabout in the room.  And a settee.  The room  has the same carpet found everywhere. 


And at Ivana’s wedding, her mother and children.



Here is the room over the Porte Cochere.  At the right are two king beds across the windows.   This room needs an update for sure.  .


Before:  The photo of the spiral stairs that leads to the tower bedrooms.



A close up of the tower with its several bedrooms – no photos!  This corner balcony is in the Spanish Bedroom, seen before.


Another view of the top floor of the tower.


The view from the tower of the front gate and beach.  The window is framed with the antique tiles. 


In the Loggia living room, there is another spiral staircase that leads to the room upstairs.



This bride posed on the cloister – up these steps lead to that particularly beautiful hall seen before that leads to the Spanish, Venetian and Adams bedrooms and to the tower bedrooms.


The main stairs are called the Gothic Stairs – and they lead off the lower cloister.  This bride will escort us again!  These stairs are located behind the bar in the lower cloister.


The stairs wrap around the open stone work.


And looking down.  A series of brass sconces light the way.  These stairs look very much like a famous church in Salisbury England – look:


The Salisbury Cathedral where the Magna Carta is.  Doesn’t this remind you of the Gothic Stairs?


Or this view of the Salisbury church with the center post.  It doesn’t say if Post or her architect were inspired by this church, but it seems like it!  Readers of the blog may remember this church that also inspired the loggias in Wilton House.  Here.


The view from the upper loggia overlooking the Owner’s House and the arched breezeway that connects the main house to the Post Ballroom.  In the back is the Trump Ballroom.


1928:  The terrace off the lower cloister.  The house was brand new here and rather bare!


1960’s.   The lower cloister with its original lanterns.



From the 1960s, a view of the lower cloister from the opposite direction.  Today, this is where the new bar was built – right in front of the stairs.   These stairs here lead to the Gothic Stairs – shown previously by the bride.     Seen here, a series of beautiful lanterns hang in the loggias.  Today, there are lighted ceiling fans instead.  OK.  ???  Why????   Where are all these lanterns?  What happened to them????



1960s:  The upper cloister.  Notice the carvings on the rafters! 


1960s:   The terrace that overlooks the lawn.


INSPIRATION:  The inspiration behind the mosaic pebble pattern on the terrace was the Alhambra Palace in Spain.  Its Generalife Garden’s pathways have many different patterns of the mosaic stone, as seen above.



1960s  Looking back to the lower & upper cloisters and the living room.  Today, this terrace is used for dining.


A night party in the 1960s




This blurry photo shows the Ringling Brothers Circus that came to Mar a Lago in the 1920s – probably to entertain Post’s daughters.  Here, they set up the animal cages on the back lawn.  There were even trapeze artists on the high wire.


There is a Pitch & Putt 9 hole course that Post installed.   Each of her houses had such a course.  


And Post on the lawn with more friends.


In the 1960s – before Trump – there was no swimming pool on the lawn and it was much more casual looking.

Another view – here at the right is the ballroom that Post built.  It connects to the cloister by a set of stairs.


Here are the stairs that lead to the terrace.  To the right are the stairs that lead to the ballroom.


The stairs from the cloister in front of Trump’s bedrooms that leads to the ballroom.


A color photo of the lower cloister – when Trump first bought the house.  The beautiful original lanterns were still hanging.


Today:   The lanterns have been replaced with these ceiling fans!  No comment!!   These rugs look like many of the rugs that were once inside the house, before the wall to wall rugs were installed.

The lower cloister today, off the library/bar.

Another view.   An original statue.


Ivanka daughter poses here.


1960s.  This area was later turned into the bar.

Today:  the bar was installed in front of the Gothic Stairs.  This was a really great job – the bar looks original to the space!

The upper cloisters at night.


1928.   The original look of the landscaping with the scub trees that were later replaced by palms.

Today:    The dining terrace and swimming pool below it – set up for a wedding.

The view of Lake Worth.  To the left is the Post ballroom.

The view from the tower of Lake Worth.


The terrace is set for dinner and a tent is in place for a party.

Security on Lake Worth guards Mar A Lago.  To the right is the Tennis Clubhouse. 


A view from the tower facing the beach.



A night party – so pretty!

Dinner during High Season is set up on the terrace.


THEN:  Dinners during the Post era were served in the dining room,  while lunch was served on the cloister.  Trump serves many lunches and dinners at both the cloister AND the terrace.


Today:  The terrace is set for dinner, along with the cloister. 


And looking back towards the cloister.


  They must get huge dinner crowds during season!



Ivanka and Jared at dinner on the terrace.


And here was the President and First Lady entertaining the Japanese Prime Minister at dinner.


The First Lady entertained the Japanese First Lady at lunch on the terrace.


And here was the event that caused so much news.  A club member took photos of the President and Japanese Prime Minister at dinner with aides and flashlights.


  And a twitter photo of the event:  shows the photo op at the front door, dinner on the terrace, the news conference at the Post Ballroom and later – the Trump and Abe visited a wedding at the Trump Ballroom. 


  A side view of Mar A Lago.  The Porte Cochere is at the left, under the tower.  The kitchen wing is next and then, the beauty shop and most guest rooms. 


  1960s.  Past the Porte Cochere is the Kitchen Wing.  Today there is a large fountain in the corner.


  And today, there is now a fountain in front of the kitchen wing.  To the right of the side door is the guest house where the green lion stands.   Post’s older daughters bedrooms were in the guest house.  Once they grew up, the rooms were used as guest suites.



  1928.   Past the Porte Cochere and Guest House is the kitchen wing on the right.



1928.  Off the lower cloister, on the right side, is the Secretary’s Cottage.  This now faces the swimming pool and today is the Spa.


1960s.  The Secretary’s Cottage was once covered in vines. 


Today, the Secretary’s Cottage is now the Spa.


At the side of the Secretary’s Cottage -  you can see behind it is the awning covered terraces at the back of the guest rooms.


    Past the walkway to the Secretary’s Cottage you enter to the spa/beauty shop/bungalows area.


The view out towards the pool and the Post ballroom beyond.


  And a hot tub for the spa.  At the back is the kitchen wing.


  And past the spa is a fountain where members pose.   The old kitchen wing is behind this.


1928 – the back service wing where there are rooms now.



  And today, the same back service wing  – not sure if the spiral staircase is a later addition.  Look how cute the towel holders for the hot tub are! 


Don and Vanessa Trump.  They take a lot of photos of the kids in their Mar A Lago bungalow. 


The woman’s powder room is just as opulent as the rest of the club.  It’s really beautiful with all the tiles and the skirted vanities.  So many girls take photos of the powder room on Instagram!


When Post wanted to square dance, she built a ballroom off the back lawn.  It was also a movie theatre.   Compared to the rest of the estate, it was very plain.   Trump completely redid this – see below!


Today, the ballroom is ornate in gold leaf and cream.   A series of chandeliers now hang here instead of lanterns.  The windows on one side overlook the swimming pool.  The other side overlooks the new Trump ballroom.



A close up of the opulent Trump renovated ceiling.


When the Post ballroom proved too small, Trump built another one – just in time for his wedding to Melania.  Here is the Trump ballroom that sits on the edge of the property.  The end of the ballroom – at the right – is a half round, just like so many other areas on the estate.



For the Superbowl party, Trump was greeted by a horn section outside of his ballroom.  It’s the largest on the island and is the site of many weddings.


The entry to the new ballroom had marble floors.  At the left is a staircase with wrought iron railings.


A view of the beautiful staircase.



Through the columns.  Along this wall is a series of arched windows with circular windows above.  On the other wall are antiqued mirrors.


A stylized photograph of the ballroom. 


Many of Trump’s political events took place in either this large ballroom, or in smaller Post ballroom.


A wedding reception.  Against one wall, there are the antiqued mirrors.

I have NEVER seen such gorgeous receptions as there are in Palm Springs.  They are just incredible. 


And at one end is the bar area – in the same half-round shape that is found throughout the property.


Another reception.  Look how many chandeliers are in this room!!! 


The decor for the different events held in this ballroom is incredible!  Such gorgeous parties!!



Wow!  Those branches!!!


At this wedding, the First Couple dressed in the wedding colors.


  Trump spent over $100,000 alone on the sinks in the ballroom bathrooms!!


And then..

A tunnel runs from the main house to the beach club – allowing guests to reach the beach without having to cross the busy street.


This area was built by Trump.   The guests rooms surrounding the beach club are available for members and their guests to stay in.


An early dusk view of the Atlantic Ocean.


  One of the beach cabanas.   The grooms typically stay in one of the pool cabanas.


Here is the tunnel – on the pool side.   These photos were taken from a You-tube video so they are blurry.


It comes down underneath So. Ocean Blvd.


Through a floor of beautiful Spanish tiles.  Of course the tunnel is nice!!!!!


And then you exit here – hidden by the bushes near the croquet court.


But besides being a private social club, Mar a Lago is family home.   Here a young Ivanka sits with her father – notice, no socks!!!!  That would NEVER happen today!



The Trump family use the club like a private house as opposed to a club.  Almost all their weddings take place at Mar A Lago.  After Trump built the new ballroom, the first event held there was his wedding to Melania.  The Clintons were invited guests and it looks like they were welcomed!  The famous guests who have visited the club is amazing.  From Woody Allen and his wife to Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, to Tony Bennett, to Sly Stallone,  to liberal James Taylor, there are few celebrities who haven’t visited at one time or another.



Donald Trump Jr. held his wedding here – and posed with his siblings, new wife, and his mother Ivana in the Venetian Guest Suite.


Later, Ivana married in front of her mother and her children.   Doesn’t Ivana look  beautiful?  The marriage barely lasted a year. 


Next, Ivanka and Jared were married at Mar A Lago.


And then Eric Trump.   His wife who jumps horses - broke both wrists three weeks before the wedding.  The doctor allowed her to attend the ceremony with her casts off, but at the reception, they were put back on!!! 



Of course, their reception was gorgeous – held in the grand Trump ballroom!  The flowers – they look more like trees – incredible!!!!!



I hope you have enjoyed this look at the new Winter White House!!!


Looking for more inspiration?

Go HERE for the Palm Beach style!!


And here, my favorite!!!   Island looks from Bunny Williams HERE.

Order Bunny Williams new book:

This is THE book – about the houses of Marjorie Merriweather Post!!  Click on the book to order.


70 Years of Fashion from the Collection of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Click on the book to order.


  1. There's no such thing as a Winter White House. There is only one White House in the USA and it's in D.C.

  2. A hideous home for a vile man and his family. No better example of money not buying class.

    1. Then you must surely be referring to EF Hutton and MM Post. The vast majority of what you see today is their doing. Surprisingly, trump has done very little to the estate except maintain it and do some minor cosmetic changes. It actually appears as if he has been a fairly good steward of this property.

    2. Apparently, you did not read/view the entire article. D.T. certainly did change almost everything about the estate. He built buildings, sold almost all of the antiques, and charges admission to enter. This is a long article, but do yourself a favor and read/view it. Then, you won't be so apt to make fake/false comments.

    3. They kept the antiques in Williamsburg, VA but they rope them off so no one can walk on the rugs or sit on the furniture. I doubt that would go over very well in a busy hotel/club. Maybe the best thing for the antiques was to sell them to someone that would protect and care for them in a way they couldn't be protected in a more public setting. Did you see in one picture the lady had her martini directly on the marble table?

    4. Well, the Trumps could have knocked down the cloister and plucked every last tile from the house, but that was not done. So what about some furniture? The vast majority of historic houses in the US contain very little of their original furnishings and apparently Mar A Lago is no exception. Overall, it looks well cared for. I'd say that's a plus.

    5. I agree about the antiques.......he bought it. he owned the antiques....and had every right to sell them I agree they should not have stayed in a hotel. They , I hope , went to people who will treasure them.. We have not right to say he should have kept them.. We are fortunate that he has left the tiles.....(I adore the tiles) I think it is good that is well cared for. I agree with anonymous here....completely.

    6. MAGA-2017-2025 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Reminds me of the Ceaucescu Palace in Bucharest (now the home of the Romanian Parliament) - just without the pools, beach and palm trees. Ceaucescu was so proud of his palace - but really it was an obscenity when so many of his people were dirt poor and hungry. Ceaucescu practically bankrupted his people, many of whom couldn't feed their babies and other children so felt they had to put them in orphanages. He came to a bad end. Mar a Lago says a lot about Trump, but not in a good way. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you Joni! You obviously put an enormous amount of research into finding all these photos and following up the changes. It was very interesting to see the original house, furnishings and garden and what Trump has done with it. Of course your post was not political - but you were presenting a man who IS - so it's very difficult for some of us to separate the man's mansion from the man. For his supporters, you probably love this place - for those of us who are not - and who are not into glitz and show-off opulence, without real authenticity either, except what he left untouched from the original - it just serves to reinforce our negative image of him.
      PS My only memory of seeing Dina Merrill in a film was in "Butterfield 8" where she played the wronged wife with great style. Probably not so very difficult for her, given her background, as she was obviously playing to type. Best wishes, Pamela

  4. Wow!!! Such vitriol! Regardless of what you think of the man, I appreciate the hard work and detail that went into this wonderful tour of a storied home. You continue to take us on wonderful journeys of the before and after of amazing homes. Amazing because of the architecture and history, not because of who owns them. Thank you.

    1. exactly my thoughts- thank you for saying this so well!

  5. The history of Mar a Lago is just fascinating! I had never known much about the estate or even thought about what the name meant. Sure, some things are definitely over the top, but that is to be expected. So interesting how things like the tunnel and pools have been added over the years to accommodate the current needs of the guests. The outdoor areas are so beautiful...that night photo by the pool is just stunning! What a place for a party! Thanks for taking the time to gather all these photos and information! I have enjoyed learning about this intriguing property!

  6. Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive post on an interesting home!
    We are here for design and beauty and you always deliver!

    1. And Joni did deliver a beautiful and informative post! It is a fascinating history of a magnificent and historical house! Brava Joni! What a comprehensive and educational......and fascinating history of this fascinating house! I was there! I will add with another was a YOWZERS time, I can tell you!

  7. It is amazing how different people react. This is not a political post. It is a design blog. Thank you for a in depth view of a beautiful estate.

    1. No, not a political post, and I really do appreciate all of the work she puts into each and every post. That is why I read her blog. However, under the first amendment, readers have the write to comment.

    2. Actually this is not true. Under the First Amendment, the government cannot prohibit your speech. But private companies and entities, including blogs, are not subject to the First Amendment.

    3. Actually, it is true. Under the first amendment, I am allowed to make as many comments as I like. If the blogger chooses to delete them, it is her right to do just that.

    4. Silly. Any blogger can turn off the comments any time she likes. You do not have a "right" to comment. Go back and read the first ammendment again.

    5. this is asinine. ridiculous. Go read another blog .

  8. Maybe you'll do Hillwood and Camp Topbridge at some point in the future? Would love to see how her other homes compared and how "rustic" Topbridge could possibly be.

    1. They are divine. Both in very different ways. No one needs to leave ones beautiful things and places for the public to see. Most do not. Marjorie Merriweather Post was a lovely and generous lady. We all benefit from that generosity.....her houses that are museums have been preserved.
      Do go visit is exquisite.
      She meant for Mar a Lago to be preserved also. I hope she is not spinning in her grave.....fortunately...all that has been changed is surface the lovely lanterns changed out to the tackiest fans anyone could have found....oh well.....the priceless tile work....and the incredible construction and architecture are preserved.......We appreciate it.......immensely!! Thank you Joni! are so right......the beautiful and priceless antiques so appropriate to the house.....were auctioned off...Better for them they ended up with people who appreciate them. The reproductions appropriate to a hotel are what are now in Mar a lago.

      They fit. It all works. Thank God all the magnificent tile work and gorgeous architecture remain. If not for Trump...I hate to think. Many magnificent enormous estates like this have been bulldozed......(Long Island is a perfect example........such tragic losses of magnificent.....beyond....estates....of this caliber. Bulldozed......gone....not even the treasures were sad)
      Thank you for such a fabulous post!!!

    2. Mar a Lago doesn't appeal to me in any way, but I loved my visit to Hillwood!! A real, relatively modest home (though still a mansion!) that is truly like a museum, filled to the brim with exquisite treasures like two of the remaining 57 Faberge eggs. Fascinating...

  9. That's a lot of cereal. I feel gorged but not satisfied. None of the people in these photographs look particularly happier than anyone. Says more about what's important than about good design. Glad that craftspeople earned a living, as well as all those employed by it now.

  10. Thank you kindly for all the work you put into this, I loved seeing and reading all about it, what a place for sure. I see the "left" are still at it, judges are going to judge, ha!

    1. I found not one single reference to politics in this post........Brava Joni!!!

    2. Then you weren't reading closely enough...."liberal James Taylor"

    3. James wife wrote a long story about her stay at mar a lago - where the basis was they were liberal and staying at trump's house. "liberal" might even be in the title, iirc. It wasn't political - it was a fact!

    4. Oh I don't doubt at all that it's a fact, but that doesn't mean it can't be political, too. "Liberal" is a political label. It's your blog, you have every right to say whatever you want, be political or not political, or whatever. I support/agree with you on that. I was simply disagreeing with the person who said there was "not one single reference to politics in this whole post." There was in fact a political reference to James Taylor's political affiliation. This is not a criticism of you or your blog at all, just correcting the other commenter. And perhaps you didn't intend the comment about Taylor, or the post in general, to be political, but intent doesn't matter. You used a political label. And that's okay! :)

  11. Theak you for such a detailed post. I know this took a lot of time and effort! Very fun to read and all the pictures were terrific! One correction though....Ivanka and Jared were not married there. They married at the Trump Club in Bedminster.

    1. Boy! what a big mistake!!!!! woah. that is embarassing!!

  12. For $2000 a night, guests should have antiques in their rooms, not this mid-range hotel furniture. What happened to the Adam (not Adams - the brothers were named Adam) room is particularly sad. It was so lovely to start out with. And you are right - what happened to all of those lovely lanterns? Replacing them with fans is the tackiest thing. I understand that it is a commercial property now, and am glad that the basic architecture hasn't been changed much, but the furnishings are all pretty awful. Trump, nor any of his wives, children/extended family ever had any taste at all. Can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Thank you for an incredibly well researched and wonderfully visual essay on the iterations of Mar A Lago. A job very well done, Joni!

    1. Ivanka has good, age-appropriate taste and always looks lovely.

    2. Cynthia......well said......except......this was a silk purse....if ever there was one......the most every way house. A treasure of artisans and was turned into a "sow's ear" just the reverse.....with the tacky fans and hotel furniture....but...let's just face IS a HOTEL......and a "CLUB"!! It is no longer a "House"! It is OKAY with me that they have kept the incredible architecture and tile and all of Not if you had billions to spend....not replaceable.
      It is preserved.....some surface stuff....not up to standards......I will not criticize....I am so grateful this treasure is preserved.
      Honestly...(I hate the fans....I take it back.....never is a treasure preserved)!!!

    3. one guarantees antiques for $2,000.00 a night! Hotels get $20,000 a night with nary one single antique! No one is entitled to anything!! We are all fortunate that this silk still silk for the most part!!! Just my opinion!!

  13. Wow! Just Wow! So much history and so many incredible pieces. I have to say the tile is my favorite out of everything. It is beyond beautiful. Thanks so much for this up close description on all of the details. Would LOVE to go there in person.

  14. I'm pretty sure the woman at dinner on the terrace with Ivanka and Jared is the late Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, which is interesting. She would not be allowed into the country today under President Trump.

    1. It was!!! Exactly! And yes. Did you see what is happening in London today with the oscars ?

    2. Not true. Dame Hadid was a British citizen and therefore would NOT have been affected by the Travel Ban.

    3. Are you kidding? the most beloved Australian author of childrens books was turned away at our border two days ago!!! Forget anything that makes sense........she will never come back. She was in tears. She was an Australian citizen who had traveled hear many times....dream on Anonymous. No wonder you remain Anonymous. You coward.

    4. Hear hear, Penelope Bianchi! This is so true. This Australian author, of Anglo Saxon ethnicity, Mem Fox, 70! years old, is greatly loved and revered in Oz. Her popular children's books have been launched by Prime Ministers. She was detained by Immigration officers at the airport on arrival (LAX I think) in the US and treated as a pariah, with great disrespect, disdain and suspicion. She was eventually released but she commented on how concerned she felt for all the others confined to the same room as she had been who were not released and who came from a diverse range of backgrounds and countries, some with small children. Shame on those responsible!
      Thank you for raising this, Penelope. For Anon- Also I think Zaha Hadid, while a British citizen, may have been born in Iraq and only later gone to the UK. As such she almost certainly would have been caught in the trap of the new law Trump is trying to bring in.
      Best wishes, Pamela

    5. Dear Penelope, Trump's Travel Ban was NOT in force 2 days ago. And Mem Fox was only detained NOT turned away. Therefore, she and the others must have been detained for OTHER reasons that had nothing to do with the Travel Ban. You are a wonderful designer but that does not give you the right to make misleading, inflammatory statements born from your own political prejudices. Let's keep this discussion honest, rational and polite.

    6. It seems Trump's travel ban, while not yet in force, has made Immigration officers at airports more aggressive and power tripping than usual. Have found as a frequent world traveller that many of these people at airports around much of the world tend to be recruited from the ranks of the not overly bright, people who get a thrill out of exercising power which they couldn't in their normal lives. And over people who know (and the Immigration staff know) they can't find back or dispute treatment because it would make things even harder for themselves. It would just excite these immigration staff more. Trump's attitude and the law that he's trying to bring into force has rocket fuelled this - on steroids.
      Mem Fox was accused by the Immigration staff of trying to enter the country on the wrong visa. Apparently the Immigration officers were inexperienced and were wrong. That didn't stop them at the time from being over aggressive and treating her with great disrespect. I understand Mem Fox has since received an official apology for what happened.
      But it was a devastating experience for her - an old lady and beloved children's author who was visiting a country she loved. People in Oz are outraged. She is an icon here. Many people are saying they will not visit the US during Trump's term - hopefully there will be only one. And then of course there are all the unknown people who are not famous and have no-one to spring to their defence.
      So Anon, it's not the proposed travel ban itself, it's also the additional feeling of power and suspicion that Trump's very public attitudes have engendered in your country's airport Immigration staff that are causing these problems. By the nature of the beast, these people are not particularly bright, authoritarian and love the sense of power they get from their jobs. Maybe they're not all like that - but unfortunately so many are.
      Let's keep this discussion honest, yes (no veiled suggestive allusions to "OTHER reasons"), rational and polite - and INTELLIGENT. Those of us who travel a lot outside our own countries are very familiar with this type of behaviour from officials, eg for myself I've experienced it personally on return to my own country (on one occasion purely because I was wearing a hat - it off the face too), and at the Russian, UK and US borders. And seen many other different nationals being harassed.

      So Penelope I believe you were essentially correct in what you said. She wasn't turned away - she was detained for some hours (after a long flight for an old lady of around 14 or so hours). But otherwise the rest is true. Best wishes, Pamela

    7. I, too, have traveled outside my home country (the U.S.A.) as well as extensively inside my country. Every week, in fact! The TSA people on the front lines may not be the sharpest tacks in the box (although some are) but they have a job to do. That is to protect the citizens of this country. I always get stopped and wanded (because I am well endowed and must have support) but have never been detained for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Maybe I just look innocent. If I were detained, it would not bother me because I realize humans can make mistakes. I would rather be detained erroneously than have a terrorist let through. Don't you agree?

      The vast majority of the people who are in positions of power within the TSA were put in by the PREVIOUS administration. So give Mr. Trump a break. He's only been in office a month. It will take time to drain the swamp.

    8. Anon - Doesn't matter who hired them. The current President is responsible for igniting their ever-ready inclination to exercise power that most people in these jobs tend to have. By the way, I travel internationally for two months every year and in the past used to travel internationally long haul for my work, several times a year, for over 20 years. So when I say I'm an experienced traveller it's really true.
      Of course we were talking about on-arrival border entry procedures and personnel and their attitudes but you've also referred to departure security personnel who do a quite different job (you've referred to the wandings - or pat-downs) but are usually of the same personality type as the entry border staff.

      In fact a one time relative by marriage was an airport security departure staff member. She was exactly of this type - as were her friends and colleagues.

      We had a disagreement once over an incident in Oz where the Prime Minister of a neighbouring country was outraged by the treatment he received at the airport where she worked. He had been visiting Oz privately (I think for medical treatment) so had not requested official escorts. He was a little darkskinned man. The airport staff hadn't picked up that his passport listed him as a Prime Minister and didn't recognise him - though he was very recognisable. And even when he explained who he was they still treated him with great disrespect. Of course he later received an official apology. But the damage was already done. My relative in-law at that time - said well there's one rule for everyone - so he had to do as he was told. I asked her if she would have treated the Queen the same way. "Of course not. She's the Queen." I replied that this man was a Prime Minister of an allied country and a neighbour. He was not going to hijack or bomb a plane. She just couldn't see it. Rigid and not overly bright!
      I think if you'd been at the end of a 14 hour flight and arriving in a foreign country - how about in Africa somewhere or the Middle East, or Russia - and you received this treatment there, how would you feel then? It's very different when you're not in your own country and have no-one to call for help. And there may also be language difficulties. Particularly bad if you're old or have small children and are very tired. Mem Fox also does not look like a terrorist or suspicious person. Maybe one day you'll understand what it feels like to be treated like this and be more empathetic. And be concerned when your government sanctions this type of behaviour. Pamela

    9. Before you brought it up, I had not thought that Mem Fox might have intentionally done something to provoke this incident. She was only questioned for 15 minutes, not two hours. However, she IS an activist for "equal" rights so perhaps she said or did something to cause them to stop her. It would not be the first time that an activist did something like this. AND, you are right, she is white, a somewhat elderly (70 NOT 84) woman from a "friendly" country. She checks none of the boxes that would have made her suspect. So what would have caused her to be singled out??? Certainly not racism. This smells like something Mem herself set up to try to embarrass Mr. Trump. But, that is just my opinion, which, last time I heard, I am entitled to have.

    10. Anon - Who said 84? Not me. And according to the reporting I read it was at least two hours of detention not 15 minutes. But what you say smacks of the kind of conspiracy type reasoning I guess I should have expected from someone who defends such treatment and who clearly supports Trump. You just cannot accept that this was an egregious error that deserved a heartfelt apology.

      You say you're entitled to your opinion but jump to the conclusion that she said something deliberately inflammatory. You called her "an activist for "equal" rights" as though it's something for which anyone should be condemned - so you in effect deny her the right to an opinion that you claim for yourself. Neither of us knows exactly what she might have said. But you're ready to condemn her without any knowledge. Enough said. Not worth discussing this with you anymore. Like trying to reason with my former relative by marriage. Pamela

    11. PS For Penelope, Anon and anyone else who might wish to read it, here is a link to an article in The Guardian by Mem Fox, the Australian children's author who was detained and interrogated by US airport Immigration staff on arrival.

      Her account of what happened is very interesting and so worth reading. (Don't be put off by the words in the address above.) In the end they said it had been a pleasure to meet her! After discovering that one of her children's books had been one of the official gifts from the Australian Government to Prince George. Best wishes, Pamela

  15. Thank you for this interesting post. The history of this home is fascinating. Appreciate your hard work that went into writing this.

  16. Well, that was quite exhaustive and interesting. I'm glad that the original architecture and features remain (though miss the original lighting). Did you say how much they estimate Post spent on creating it? If so, I missed it. Totally unimaginable. I agree, that's a lot of cereal. It's also fairly eye opening how the super mega rich like to spend their money, then and now. By the way, the furniture in that bridal dressing room was made by Marge Carson - pseudo French on steroids - and dates to the late 90's - early 2000's.

    1. The original estimate was 1 million but they spent 3 million. Iirc

    2. That furniture by Marge Carson is the worst......oh well.....whatever! I am glad the antiques went to collectors and people who will love it!

  17. I've ordered the book. I would love to do those properties. Don't go research them!! Wait for me to write it!! Haha.

  18. Dear Joni, what a great post! I started reading about 45 min ago and I just finished to look at all the photos and to read the text, so I can imagine how hard you worked preparing this extensive blogpost!!!!
    Going to most of all these rooms, all I can say is that I suggest that Mr Trump hires Axel Vervoordt to refurbish a few of these! :) Thank you again for all the work you do to bring us the most gorgeous blogposts. You are amazing!

  19. Wow - what a great, comprehensive post on this famous house. Thank you!

  20. I'm exhausted.

  21. I have waited until I am going to bed to say this.....I visited Palm Beach in the late 60's and my friend took me to a party at Mar a Lago. I thought I would faint. Honestly......I wandered around.....I saw all of the exquisite architecture....the amazing tile work.....the gorgeous views from every window...the tapestries; the antiques. I enjoyed the entire thing. There was not one cozy place in that palace.....and it was a palace. I felt sorry for the girl who grew up there......Dina Merrill. I still feel sorry for the people who lived was an exquisite palace.

    I had a great time at the was a "ball"; in the days where there were still" balls". It was never a comfortable place to wasn't a "home" to anyone. Much more appropriate as a "Club". It has reached its perfect role. Honestly. I am so lucky I saw it at a party. It was its best role.

    1. Thanks for sharing that insight. I can see that it was a show house, like a stage set or a very big prop. I wonder if there was a "cozy place" in any of her homes that she shared with her children and her pets or if her life became a "role" that she played. I'll take my life any day.

    2. Thanks Penelope aka Zelig! haha!!! you were there! I should have known. HOnestly - Trump said the same thing about the house - initially. But then more recently he said he was very comfortable there and loved it - it was very much a home to him. obviously - as he is going yet AGAIN this weekend.

  22. Just my opinion....of course. I feel so lucky to have seen it in its heyday!!! Exquisite.....greatest party ever. I would never want to live there. Not anywhere in that enormous house......they tried.....but it sin't intimate anywhere. I met Mrs Post.....she was a lovely and warm woman in small groups.

  23. Joni, thank you for painstakingly presenting such a complete and fascinating chronicle! I can only imagine the time and energy devoted to this foray. As always,money doesn't buy good taste all of the time, however, regardless of our personal opinions about the owner and any of the decor and furnishings, Mar A Lago would be easy to take! Isn't there a quote (paraphrasing) stating that "the rich are different"? Such an interesting past and present ... enjoyed learning about this Landmark.

  24. Oh my Joni. You have done it again! I cannot even imagine the time it takes you to prepare these posts. Especially this one. I LOVED looking at the before and after pictures. It doesn't really matter what I think of him or the home ~ I loved the information you shared. You are a master at your craft, which is blogging to those of us who are interested in design. Thank you for what you do. I loved this post. I will be going to Palm Beach in June. It will be my first visit there. I am excited to see the whole area. Have a great Monday Joni!

  25. Post had 3 daughters - the 2 were later. Hillwood is magnificent and I go pretty often for events and to see different exhibits. You would love it -come visit! no comment otherwise on the rest of this. Glad the house has been mostly preserved. I assume the furniture and artwork was sold off for the $$ at the later auction.

  26. Interesting post! There is a book called "Tropical Style: Private Palm Beach" that has a picture of an Art Deco room in the tower (and one of the original kitchen).

  27. What a wonderful post. You clearly put so much time in! I'm going to go through again, as your comments - what caught your eye, the points on the history and architecture, uses of various rooms through the years, even the elements of the place sold or auctioned - offer such knowledge nuggets! Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

  28. Of course, it might be nice to thank President Trump for preserving some of our precious historic architecture. There are many, many other estates in Florida that are just as grand and imposing. Vizcaya in Miami, Ringling in Sarasota- and then there is Rollins College, founded in the late 1800's and the oldest secondary school in the state.

  29. I just keep going back to the comment you made about the body language between Trump and Marla Maples....very interesting...not much of that going on with Melania. Is it because he is older, or....????

    1. Cindy - I agree!! He was totally different with Marla. Totally. I know Melania and he say they are soul mates - and they might be, but he was stuck on Marla in a huge way. Alot of the photos are like that and so are articles I[ve read about them.

  30. What an incredible amount of research and effort went into this post! Great job! I loved the history and seeing how its changed over the years. Thank you, Brenda

  31. Just read the article...I was at Mar a Lago in 90s...before the auction for I don't remember the horrible furnishings, though I recall it was a mish mash of all centuries tumbled by the sea. The lanterns added by the present owner of the club around the baluster off the pool and under the loggia eaves are tacky, the fans are horrid and the carpets appear from Home Depot. I have a photo of myself and mother in law in front of that tiled entrance to the owners suite...and bought a beautiful painted faux wood grain 18thC chest of drawers from a dealer in NYC years ago from Mar a Lago. Please, lets not fool ourselves. He sold all because he was in DEEP bankruptcy. When he approached the heirs, it's well known that he ended up stringing the daughters of Post for a couple of years in escrow, even going so far as to claim that he would develop a tall building on the beach if they didn't sell too him at slower price...his method of business is worse than a thug. They were so appalled at their dilemma they sold short...and then he put Dina down in an article as all beauty and no brains unlike her mother. Yes, the building is a Joseph Urban theatrical setting, as that was what his fame was with the Ziegfield Follies to working with Hearst and Davies on her films...but even though the shell is maintained, the legend is tarnished now. Oh, by the way...this could never be called the WINTER WHITE HOUSE, for it is a club with paying members...not a house, let alone a private much for his delusions of grandeur...pompous puppet of Putin

    1. Thank you, Swan, so interesting! Had suspected that he sold the contents essentially for financial reasons. Though they didn't appear to be to his taste either.

      It's so interesting that the original planning and interior design was from such a fascinating era when the super rich (often the second or third generation nouveaux riches) traveled in Europe and fell in love with France and Italy (like the English nobility on their grand tours in previous centuries) and wanted to bring it home. Finding architects to design great houses and estates where it could be shown to best advantage.

      In some cases it must all have seemed like a monstrous pastiche - or just colossal and comic overweening bad taste, the mix of objects and styles from different countries set into buildings and rooms that were sometimes far larger than the original. I think of San Simeon, where parts of it appear spectacular and beautiful but others quite inappropriate in their local settings and unintentionally rather funny and fairly crass, including even in their own day. Though sometimes the passage of time can lend more charm. I remember reading about guests at San Simeon in the banqueting hall aghast to find the tables were set with bottles of tomato sauce etc.
      This house appears to have escaped the ravages of such risks, during Marjorie's time. The tiles are very beautiful.
      There are also interesting and rather beautiful houses in France that were designed after the era which they've been designed and styled to re-create, eg Kerylos in Beaulieu-sur-Mer and nearby the Musee Ephrussi-Rothschild - and in Paris the Musees Jacquemart-Andre and Nissim de Camondo.
      Of course there were also the old robber barons' mansions in New York, only a few of which seem to have survived. Best wishes, Pamela

    2. Swan, you are right on target. There is always a motive behind anyone's actions. Trump paid Post's heirs 3 millions for all the antiques, furniture included which were replaced by inexpensive reproductions or furnishings like the appallingly poorly made sofa with the pleated skirt which does not hold a candle to a similar sofa I bought from Hickory White or Hickory Chair -- I am not home to check it out -- (I lived in High Point for 15 years and purchased it from the manufacturer on sale). Yes, Trump was in one of his bankruptcies at that time and his motive for selling doe$ not take much of a gue$$. I agree with the reader who said that now, at least, the antiques went to people who appreciate them well enough to buy them. Letty

  32. I used to love you and your site until you gave this hater a whole page.

    1. Pretty Things, think about what you said "she gave 'this hater' a whole page." Joni wrote about the history of Mar-a-Lago and talked about the owners -- past and present. She cannot help that one of them has a skewed moral compass. When I look at art, including architecture that is the work of, or owned by, a person with a unpalatable history, I focus on the work. Otherwise, I would never listen to Wagner -- who was a misogynist and anti-semite -- without being able to separate the man from his music which is pure genius. Letty

  33. Hi This is fantastic and is a legitimate good post . I think it will assist me a lot inside the related stuff and is significantly useful for me.Wonderfully written I appreciate & must say good job.. office furniture Miami

  34. I really appreciate the time you took to write this thoughtful post... incredibly well researched. And the detail! Fantastic! Imagine, Marjorie Merriweather Post built Mar-a-lago for $7 Million and Trump bought it for $8 Million. Love or loathe him, you've got to admit. Trump knows how to deal. Again, thanks for the commentary, and the history.