Last Monday’s raid on Mar-a-Lago has focused public attention on the mansion-turned-club owned and run by former president Donald Trump. It’s huge: 126 rooms, 62,500-square-foot interior, with approximately 20 acres of perfectly landscaped lawns. The house was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post Cereals business. She hired Marion Sims Wyeth to design it, and Joseph Urban to create interior design and exterior decorations. Post spent $7 million (equivalent to $109 million in 2021), and it was finished in 1927. The house has 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, a 29-foot-long pietra dura marble-top dining table, 12 fireplaces, and three bomb shelters. Mar-a-Lago was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1980.
In 1985, Donald Trump offered to buy Mar-a-Lago for $15 million, but the Post family they rejected the offer. So Trump purchased the land between Mar-a-Lago and the ocean for $2 million, stating he intended to build a home that would block Mar-a-Lago’s beach view. The threat caused interest in the property to decline, and Trump ended up getting it for $7 million.
Facing financial difficulties in 1994, Trump turned the estate into a private club. It now reportedly has 500 members. The initiation fee for membership rose from $100,000 to $200,000 earlier this year, but the particulars of membership are still mostly shrouded in mystery, as are the identities of most of the members themselves.
Suffice it to say that Mar-a-Lago is a haven for the ultrarich led by one of their faithful. It will presumably be Trump’s dwelling place for as long as he lives.