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November 3, 2016 • Real Estate History

The Winter White House

While the debate is hot and heavy over who will be moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when the Obamas’ lease on the White House is up, one Presidential candidate already lives in what was originally meant to be the Winter White House – a retreat from the cold and snow of New England winter months for Presidents and their families.

That’s right – the Mar-a-Lago was originally built by an heiress with a vision of it being used as a winter retreat of US Presidents, away from Washington, DC real estate and was willed by her to the federal government! How then did it become the property and de-facto home of Donald Trump?

The cereal heiress and one of the richest women in the world, Marjorie Merriweather Post, had the Mar-a-Lago estate built in the late ’20s to the tune of $7 million. American architect Marion Sims Wyeth designed it and it was completed in 1927.  The house sits on 17 acres bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway on the other.

Upon her death in 1973, cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post donated the 128-room Palm Beach mansion to the U.S. government to be used as the winter White House. She envisioned future Presidents and their families having a warm, comfortable residence to spend the cold New England winters away from in. Her act of willing it to the federal government was appreciated, but soon reversed; in 1980, the government returned the house to Post’s daughters because of the $1 million in annual maintenance costs. That same year, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

342px-Mar-A-Lago1Donald Trump soon began to pursue ownership of the property, and bought the house and its contents in 1985 for a total of $8 million. Ten years later, the existing Mar-a-Lago club opened, after he had invested an additional $7 million in a massive 20,000 square foot gold leaf ballroom. When Trump and his family are in Palm Beach, Florida, they stay in a private residence on one side of the estate.

If Trump is elected POTUS next week, the Mar-a-Lago Club may end up being precisely what it was intended to be – a winter getaway for when DC winters become too cold and damp – an actual Winter White House!

 

 

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