For the last 50 years The Flagler Museum, in Palm Beach, has decorated Whitehall Mansion in a traditional early 1900's era "Florida" style and has had Henry Flagler's descendants light the 16-foot Christmas tree in the Grand Hall. I just couldn't miss this wonderful event!
I've only been in Florida since March but this is the third time I've visited the mansion. I took four blog postings to tell about my very first visit! If you'd like to learn more about it you can go to: http://sweetmeanderings.blogspot.com/2011/05/whitehall-mansion-part-1.html
If you remember, flash photography is not allowed inside the mansion so some of the pictures may be a little dark. But I'm not complaining - at least they allow photography!
Here's a closeup of this beautiful tree. They have decorated with Spanish Moss instead of tinsel, using what is readily available in Florida. In addition to what you might expect of an early 1900's tree, there are boxes of Animal Crackers hanging on the branches. In 1903 the manufacturer of this favorite cookie added strings to the boxes with the intention of them being used as Christmas tree ornaments. Who knew! On our way out of Whitehall, the Museum gave everyone a box of Animal Crackers to use on their own tree.
When you have more than 75 rooms in your home one Christmas tree just isn't enough! This one is in the drawing room just off the Grand Hall.
The fireplace in the dining room was decorated too.
I would dearly love to have Christmas dinner in this room!
Even the Breakfast Room was properly adorned.
Naturally, the Music Room had to have it's own tree too.
See the pipe organ at the end of the room? It is played only once a year - when they light the Christmas tree. It was installed in 1902 and has 1,249 metal and wood pipes powered by massive bellows. The Flaglers employed a full-time organist to provide music for all their social functions.
This breath-taking house can be overwhelming, so Hubby bought tea for me in the Pavilion.
Energized, we returned to the Mansion for more Christmas festivities.
This Steinway art case grand piano is original to Whitehall's Drawing Room. It was custom designed to match the Louis XVI style room.
We had the privilege of hearing it played! The pianist played three 7-minute sets of Christmas songs.
Then, we headed to the Music Room to hear that organ! I learned that the organist plays the organ at a nearby church and it has always been her dream to play this particular organ.
She played with such joy she soon had the audience singing along.
Unlike the pianist, the organist didn't want to take any breaks!
Finally, it was time to head back to the Grand Hall where we watched Henry Flager's four great-great-great grandchildren throw the switches and light up the tree. That ended another memorable day in South Florida! Merry Christmas everyone!