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All credit for this story goes to my friend Daniel who did some excellent research!
After covering him for 6+ years, I feel like I know a LOT about President Trump and his Florida estate, Mar-a-lago.
But I had absolutely NO idea about the history of the estate.
Perhaps you might even say the “prophetic” history!
You just can’t make this stuff up folks, honestly, I am blown away.
And yes, this story is verified by the Smithsonian of all places.
So here’s the deal….Mar-a-lago already had a rich history before Donald Trump purchased it.
I think most of us know that.
It ended up being owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Post family fortune.
After she died in 1973, her will left the estate to the Federal Government so it could be used as the Winter White House!
— Daniel Lee (@dnajlion7) January 27, 2021
Read the full, official story from MaralagoClub.com:
The Mar-a-Lago Estate was opened officially in January of 1927 after four years of construction. Marjorie Merriweather Post (then Mrs. E.F. Hutton) searched for several years to find a proper location between the ocean and Lake Worth. The quest for a new home had begun when it became apparent that she was to be the dowager queen of Palm Beach. At the time, there was little else here but undergrowth and swampy grounds, seemingly of not much use for a building site. With her realtor, Post crawled through underbrush of jungle-type growth in search of the perfect piece of property; the consequence of that search is the main house “Mar-a-Lago,” which is Spanish for “Sea to Lake.” This hurricane resistant structure is anchored by concrete and steel to a coral reef, and the whole of the property comprises approximately twenty acres of perfectly landscaped lawns. Across the southeast lawn, a Chattahoochee stone path leads to a tunnel under South Ocean Boulevard which opens onto the Beach Club. The site on which Mar-a-Lago sits is now considered the most valuable parcel of land anywhere in Florida.
The main house is an adaptation of the Hispano-Moresque style, long popular among the villas of the Mediterranean. It is crescent-shaped with an upper and lower cloister along the concave side of the building that faces Lake Worth. A seventy-five foot tower tops the structure, affording a magnificent view in all directions for miles. Three boatloads of Dorian stone were brought from Genoa, Italy for the construction of the exterior walls, arches and some of the interior. The stone was chosen for its quality of aging rapidly and for its adaptability to intricate carving. Upon close examination, tiny seashells and fossils can be seen in this distinctive stone of the 114 room ocean-to-lake villa. One of the attractions of Mar-a-Lago is the predominant use of Old Spanish tiles throughout. Post acquired approximately 36,000 tiles that had been collected by the late Mrs. Horace Havermeyer in the 1800’s. Among the earliest tiles, dating back to the 15th century, is the “Plus Ultra” tile, translated to “Beyond the Ultimate,” a Roman influence upon the Moors.
The architecture, sculpture, planning and craftsmanship that went into this magnificent estate could not be duplicated today. It was Post’s plan to bring together many Old World features of the Spanish, Venetian and Portuguese styles. She worked closely with Marion Wyeth, a well-known architect, on the exact size, placement and design of the floor plan. Joseph Urban, once the architect for the Emperor Franz Joseph and for the Khedive of Egypt, was called in from Vienna for the more elaborate details. Urban was then sent to Vienna for eminent sculptor Professor Franz Barwig and his son who worked for nearly three years modeling and carving extraordinary sculptures. The models for the parrots, monkeys and other motifs are still preserved on the premises.
Practically all labor came from adjacent areas. The ironwork was cast and wrought in West Palm Beach, and the fine old cypress wood for doors, beams and every other possible use was purchased locally. The only exceptions were the Dorian stone, the Spanish tiles, the approximately 20,000 Cuban roofing tiles, and 2,200 square feet of black and white marble from an old castle in Cuba, which was used for the dining room floor.
In January 1969, The Department of the Interior designated the estate as “The Mar-a-Lago National Historic Site.” The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 by an Act of Congress. Until her death in 1973, Post used the estate as a haven for many notable dignitaries. After her death, the estate was willed to the Federal Government for use as a diplomatic/presidential retreat. Ten years later, due to maintenance and security concerns, the government conferred title to the Post Foundation. In 1985, Donald J. Trump purchased the property from the Post Foundation and used the estate as a private residence until 1995. In April of 1995, Mar-a-Lago became established as The Mar-a-Lago Club. It is the last remaining Palm Beach estate still containing its buildings and land in almost identical form as its original conception. With the granting of easements to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Mar-a-Lago Club carries with it a built in constituency that ensures its stewardship into the future.
The Mar-a-Lago Club offers a magnificent swimming pool, an award winning beauty salon, a world-class spa, five red clay championship tennis courts and a remarkable croquet court. The property also boasts two retail outlets: a tennis pro shop overlooking Lake Worth and a boutique adjacent to the Mar-a-Lago Spa. In addition, the Gold & White Ballroom has been modernized, the pitch and putt golf course was brought back to life, and a magnificent Beach Club was built… the finest on the Island of Palm Beach. The all-new Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom was completed in 2005, and at 20,000 square feet is the largest on the island. The exterior was designed in the Spanish / Mediterranean style to conform to the exterior of the house. The interior is in a Louis XIV gold and crystal finish that is one of the finest spaces of its kind in the country. In a new building adjacent to the ballroom is a complementary state-of-the-art kitchen.
The Mar-a-Lago Club has a special quality of timelessness that transcends the transition into the new millennium. The splendor, style and elegance of what may be the world’s most beautiful and exclusive private club is truly ageless. The Trump Organization has invested millions of dollars in restoring and upgrading this “Jewel of Palm Beach,” ultimately creating the finest experience in world-class luxury, relaxation, dining, entertainment and recreation – all in an unparalleled setting.
Now before you say that’s just President Trump’s website embellishing the history, it’s also confirmed directly by the Smithsonian:
Within 48 hours after the presidential election last November, the Palm Beach Daily News headlined a question that “many in town” were asking: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: Another Winter White House?”
By January, the president-elect had an answer: “Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago,” he tweeted from his elite private club, along with a photograph of himself seated behind a large desk, legal pad and pen in hand.
Palm Beach might have been having déjà vu, and not only because President-elect John F. Kennedy wrote his inaugural address at his father’s estate in the town’s North End. The woman who built Mar-a-Lago in the 1920s and presided over it for almost half a century, Marjorie Merriweather Post, had gone to great lengths to turn the mansion into an official wintertime presidential retreat.
But even extreme wealth has its limitations, as my visit to the Post Family Papers suggests. They occupy 57 seldom-seen linear feet at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library and document the life of one of the most famous and consequential women of the 20th century. The files offer unusual glimpses of the girl who glued labels onto packages of Postum, the coffee substitute that made her family’s fortune, and of the woman who built the General Foods Corporation. Her four husbands, her bountiful philanthropy, her megayacht, her grand balls, her jaw-dropping jewels—all are documented in the archives.
And then there’s a volume bound in still-handsome red leather. A yellowing file card dated “February/March 1976” is taped to the cover: “Original Proposal for Disposition of Mar-a-Lago.”
The mansion dates to the 1920s, when Palm Beach’s wealthiest visitors were forsaking luxury hotels for their own digs, says Debi Murray, chief curator of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Post herself explored the site of her future home, on 17 acres of scrub between Lake Worth and the Atlantic. (Mar-a-Lago means “Sea to Lake” in Spanish.) Construction began in 1923 and kept some 600 workers busy, even though, as Murray notes, “Florida entered the Depression earlier than the rest of the country.” The mistress ensured that her workers wouldn’t go hungry.
Preview thumbnail for ‘Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post
Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post
This is a beautifully illustrated account of the three main homes of Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887–1973), through the 1950s to 1970s.
Even by Palm Beach standards, Mar-a-Lago was grandiose: 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms with gold-plated fixtures (easier to clean, Post believed), an 1,800-square-foot living room with 42-foot ceilings. Its 110,000 square feet glinted with gold leaf, Spanish tiles, Italian marble and Venetian silks. All told, Post spent $7 million—somewhere north of $90 million today.
It was finished in 1927. That March, Post and her second husband, Edward F. Hutton, had a few score guests over for dinner before the annual Everglades Costume Ball. The hosts wore costumes evoking the reign of Louis XVI. But there was also noblesse oblige: In 1929, when she hired the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to perform for a charity fund-raiser, she invited underprivileged children to attend. In 1944, she offered her grounds to World War II veterans who needed occupational therapy. In 1957, she opened Mar-a-Lago to the International Red Cross Ball, and the gala event has been held there many times since—but not this year. It was one of more than 20 charity events that were relocated from Mar-a-Lago or canceled after the president’s remarks on violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
As the social seasons came and went, however, Palm Beach tastemakers’ tastes changed. The grand houses they built in the 1920s were seen as “white elephants,” Murray says, and were razed in the ’50s and ’60s.
Except that isn’t how Post saw Mar-a-Lago—or Hillwood, her estate in Washington, D.C., or Camp Topridge, her retreat in the Adirondacks. She arranged to donate all three properties to government entities. The state of New York added some of Topridge’s acreage to a forest preserve but sold most of its 68 buildings to a private owner. The Smithsonian Institution, citing maintenance costs, returned Hillwood to the Post Foundation, which now runs it as a museum.
And the original Mar-a-Lago proposal, the one bound in red leather, was to donate it to the state of Florida for a center for advanced scholars, but state officials also balked at the maintenance costs.
By 1968, according to other papers in the archive, Post had turned to Plan B: Mar-a-Lago as winter White House, property of the United States. After she died, in 1973, at age 86, the Post Foundation pursued the idea. But in 1981, the federal government declined, for the same reason the Floridians and the Smithsonian did.
Thus Mar-a-Lago went on the market. Three potential sales collapsed before Donald Trump bought it in 1985, paying a reported $8 million for the estate and its furnishings—a small fraction of the original cost, no matter how you calculate it. And after three decades and the most confounding presidential election in living memory, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s wish for her mansion came true.
I bet you also don’t know this….Mar-a-lago even has a SCIF: Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.
From the Palm Beach Post:
On October 24, Republican members of Congress entered and disrupted a Ukraine hearing being in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in the Capitol. What raised eyebrows, if not rung alarm bells, is that many of the congressmen brought their iPhones with them, which is against the rules.
That’s because photographing or video in SCIFs is prohibited so as not to giveaway information about what makes SCIFs so secure.
But, it turns out, SCIFs are not just found in the nation’s capital.
There is a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago, which is used when President Donald Trump is in town.
Ironically, the existence of the SCIF at the president’s private club in Palm Beach was first revealed in a White House press briefing on February 14, 2017, to rebut criticism Trump himself had put sensitive discussions at risk.
That was days after Trump held an impromptu security gathering in a Mar-a-Lago dining area with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and their aides moments after a North Korea missile test.
>>READ: Yujing Zhang trial: Last witness says Chinese woman offered ticket to event with Clintons
But during a press briefing three days later, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer downplayed the discussion, and said Trump had been briefed in a secure area before dinner.
“The president was briefed in a SCIF ahead of dinner,” Spicer said. “He went with his national security team. They briefed him on the situation in North Korea.”
Spicer said people wrongly jumped to “nefarious conclusions” about the famous photo of Trump, Abe and their aides huddled around a table with Mar-a-Lago members and guests seated nearby.
“At that time, apparently there was a photo taken, which everyone jumped to nefarious conclusions about what may or may not be discussed,” Spicer told the media that day. “There was simply a discussion about press logistics, where to host the event. And then after the dinner, the president went back into the SCIF to get a further update from his team. So I’m not really sure where people jumped to conclusions. There is a SCIF there. It was utilized on two occasions that evening to convey to the president by his national security team the situation in North Korea.”
Mar-a-Lago security came under intense scrutiny this year after a Chinese woman was arrested and charged with lying in order to gain entry to the club.
In September, Yujing Zhang was found guilty of lying to a federal agent and gaining access to a restricted building. She faces a maximum of six years in prison when she is sentenced on November 22.
The Zhang trial did little to answer why the 33-year-old self-described business consultant attempted to enter Mar-a-Lago, an incident that initially sparked suspicion and speculation of espionage.
That a president who spends a lot of time in Palm Beach has access to a secure room is not ahistorical. In 1961, a secure bunker on Peanut Island that served as a shelter and command post became operational for President John F. Kennedy.
You can watch the full report from Daniel here: