This elegant Grande Dame, Majorie Merriwether Post , was the real hostess for my little fantasy New Years' Eve gala from the previous series. I can assure you that she would roll over in her grave if she ever dropped in on her beloved home in it's current incarnation as Mr. Trumps' Palm Beach Palace of Noveau Rich Ostentation and Wretched Excess, aka Mar A Lago Club.
My party was a small ode to a former time, when gracious elegance ruled, in which she reigned as the Hostess with the Mostess in her homes (notably Topridge, Hillwood & Mar A Lago) as well as her yacht, Sea Cloud. She had more husbands than houses, which makes for a rather complex family tree once those branches starting branching out to mulitples of children and grandchildren. I joined one branch of that tree through a momentary ( 6 year ) marriage.
This view of the living room gives some idea of the scale of her home. The main house was around 67,000 square feet, with the total reaching 110,000 square feet once you toss in the ballroom and other adjacent buildings in the compound. (as a point of comparison - a typical Wal Mart is about 25,000 sq. ft. ) Officially,the room count is 118.
Though I never met her ( she died in 1973), I was fortunate to spend some time in this incredible house in the '80's. My favorite memories are not of the awesome size and baroque decor but rather of two small details ... .. . the silver pantry and the bathtubs. The silver pantry because it was a 10 x 20 ft. room of floor to ceiling shelves just crammed with the most glorious and dazzling sparkle I had ever seen. It was as if Tiffany, Cartier and Asprey had combined forces just off the kitchen! It should go without saying that the bathrooms ( around 35) were quite lux. "Mommy da" (as she was known to the family) specified the required marble/marble everywhere and then added the nice little touch of gold fixtures in her own suite. Considering the layers of priceless furnishings, art and imported architectural details , this wasn't a surprise. My puzzlement was why each tub had two sets of Hot/Cold fixtures ... . one above the other. I just couldn't figure it out. Finally had to ask .. .. .
"What's with the four fixtures on the tub???"
( What do you think - any guesses?)
In spite of my obvious ignorance at bath details in grand beach houses, I did manage to sit down in the living room one afternoon for a photo op. Do you think there are enough hand carved golden cupids holding up that table with the "floral" arrangement constructed of seashells?
In the meantime, my husband and his brother are outside by the divine parrot fountain ... with the question du jour being "What are we going to do with this place!??" No one in the family wants it, we've all chosen much simpler lives. We gave it to the United States government, as a winter White House, and they gave it back ( maintenance too expensive for them). We figured there really weren't that many people on the entire planet who would want to take this on ... . perhaps a Saudi sheik trying to break into Palm Beach society. Nah ... . they didn't really give a damn.
Along came The Donald.
Sign of relief.
By the way - about those bath fixtures .. .
Mommy da believed in the curative effects of bathing in salt water, so the top set is for sea water and the bottom for fresh water.