The Flagler Museum focuses on the Gilded Age, which began at the end of the Civil War and ended in 1929 with the stock market crash that marked the beginning of the Great Depression. The Gilded Age was an era of massive economic expansion in the United States. It created many titans of industry, including museum namesake Henry Flagler.
Henry Flagler was born in 1830 in Upstate New York. As a teenager, he moved to Ohio, where he worked in a grain store for a salary of $5 a month, which was considered impressive at the time. He eventually started a salt business, which ultimately failed when demand for salt dropped after the end of the Civil War.
His luck soon turned for the better when he formed a partnership with John D. Rockefeller and helped found Standard Oil. The company went on to be one of the most successful businesses in history. Flagler eventually moved to New York, where the Standard Oil offices were relocated.
When on vacation in Florida, Flagler liked the area but thought it needed more hotels. Taking matters into his own hands, he built his own hotel in 1885. With his money from Standard Oil, he also bought a railroad. Over the following years, Flagler continued to build more hotels and buy more railroads. Eventually, he created an industrial empire and even helped the city of Miami get off the ground. Flagler can be thought of as one of the fathers of Florida.
As a gift to his third wife (he lost his first two to illness), he built Whitehall as a winter home. Whitehall has 75 rooms and is over 100,000 square feet. Quite the wedding present! You can take a tour of Whitehall, which houses the Flagler Museum. Visitors are allowed two hours to tour the museum, which has antique furniture, an original organ from the early 1900s, and exhibits highlighting the Gilded Age.
The Flagler Museum is open year-round from 10am–5pm on Tuesday–Saturday and 12–5pm on Sunday. It's closed on Monday.
Cover image by julie corsi is licensed under CC BY 2.0.