In 1919, the enormously wealthy Edward T Stotesbury commissioned famed Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner to build a large Spanish colonial revival palace in the sand for his wife, Eva. Besides El Mirasol, the Stotesbury properties would also include a large Bar Harbor mansion called "Wingwood", a large country estate known as "Whitemarsh Hall" and a twin townhouse in Philadelphia. The mansion cost $657,000 and included, among other things, several patios, a theater, garage, 100-seater dining room, a teahouse and a zoo. It was the largest Palm Beach home built at the time, the ground floor alone being 35,000 square feet.
The Courtyard of El Mirasol
Stotesbury died with a mere $4 million (mere when compared to the previous $125 million fortune he had had when he married Eva) and a lot of debts. This would not be nearly sufficient enough to enable her to continue to live the lifestyle she was used to. She auctioned off all of the furnishings at Whitemarsh Hall and then sold the estate. She did the same thing to Wingwood and then as well to their townhouse. The staff was cut from 40 to 15 and the yacht was sold. She sold all of their limousines, except for her custom-built Rolls Royce, and most of their art collection. All of the money from this, plus the totals from the sale of most of her jewelry, allowed her to keep El Mirasol and live in relative luxury and comfort. After her death, the Spanish mansion was demolished in 1959.
A cautionary tale for today's mega-mansion builders. The Storesbury's built very lavish, extremely large mansions which were elegant and filled with treasures, yet they would have no hope of surviving or finding a secondary purpose so after the burden of taxes and maintenance would all fall to the wrecking ball. It would have been nice to see Whitemarsh live on as a museum and Mirasol as a small hotel or divided into condos, but it was not to be.ReplyDelete
I do believe that my great aunt worked there as a maid. She left me some of the silverflatware with initials.ReplyDelete
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