There has been much in the news lately about a little place in Palm Beach called Mar A Lago.
We’ll talk about all the news, but first some background on the “cottage” by the sea in South Florida.
Marjorie Merriweather Post built the place starting in 1924, three years later, it was completed and she and her husband de jour moved in.
Well, not so much as moved in as came and went.
It was a second third fourth who knows home to the couple and their tribe.
Marjorie was born the daughter of C. W. Post and his wife Ella Merriweather and at the age of 27 became the owner of Postum Cereal Company, and was at the time the wealthiest woman in America. Her net worth was roughly $250 million – then.
She built Mar A Lago with her second husband – she would eventually have four – EF Hutton. You know, the one every one listens to.
She had three children, the most famous being actress Dina Merrill, who married money as well, as in the Colgate Palmolive money.
Honestly, the family that banks together, stays together.
Well, maybe not.
D I V O R C E.
Back to Marge.
Upon her death following a long illness in 1973, Post willed Mar A Lago to the US Government as a “resort for Presidents and foreign dignitaries.”
The US Government didn’t want it, Nixon had his Florida White House in Key Biscayne, Carter could have cared less about Florida, and eventually, after much wrangling, drama, and subterfuge, the place was sold to private citizen Donald Trump.
Funny how that all worked out!
The place was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth and the interior was created by Joseph Urban. It sits on 17 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Florida Inter-coastal Waterway, hence the name Mar A Lago, or Sea to Lake.
OK, so it’s not a Lake, get over it!
In the early 1990s, Trump faced financial troubles, and while making a “believe me, it’s gonna be the best deal ever” deal with bankers mentioned he was going to cut the place with a 128 room mansion sitting on it UP into smaller properties.
Palm Beachians nearly rent their sweater sets in angst!
The city council rejected his plan, so he turned the place into a private club and opened it UP to Blacks and Jews, further freaking out Palm Beach.
Seems the Bath and Tennis Club and Everglades Club didn’t cotton to the likes of Blacks, Jews, and “people who call attention to themselves…”
The Donald hosted concerts with Celine Dion, Billy Joel, welcomed – gasp – beauty pageant contestants as guests, and violated local noise ordinances.
And to top it off, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley spent their honeymoon at Mar A Lago.
Trust me – that union is a whole ‘nother Ricky Lake show!
Now, and I’m sure Marjorie would be thrilled; Mar A Logo is “The Winter White House.”
Many are not.
Many are upset with the cost of the President’s trips to the estate.
FDR – Hyde Park
JFK – Hyannis Port
RMN – San Clemente and Key Biscayne
…but I’ll stop.
While it’s the WWH, it’s also the Mar A Lago Club. Membership initiation fee is $200,000. It was $200,000 until 2012 when many Palm Beachians lost serious cash in the Bernie Madoff scandal. It was dropped to $100,000, but the price went UP when The Donald became The POTUS.
Annual dues are $14,000, and an overnight stay is $2,000 if you’re interested.
There are 500 members and about 40 new ones are admitted each year.
I’m not on the list.
Hey, I’m sure you were curious.
Marjorie Merriweather Post spent over 40 winters in Palm Beach. Mar A Lago was one of her favorite places – it was her Neverland and she was proud of it.
The place was one of the most elegant and ornate palaces in America and just for kicks, she’d hide behind a screen in the dining room just to hear people gasp aloud at the opulent beauty as they entered.
Hey, a girl’s gotta have a hobby!