The Mar-a-Lago Club was the Winter White House long before Trump took ownership

Ginny Beagan
Treasure Coast Newspapers
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The luxury estate, spanning 20 acres of prime waterfront real estate in Palm Beach, was dubbed the "Winter White House" long before President Donald Trump took ownership.

Mar-a-Lago, which means “Sea to Lake” in Spanish sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal waterway. 

Its original owner, cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, bequeathed it to the federal government upon her death in 1973 and requested it be used as an official wintertime presidential retreat.

Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter passed on the chance to make the mansion their Winter White House. 

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Maintenance costs for the 58-bedroom, 33-bathroom estate proved to be too much, so President Jimmy Carter gave the estate back to the Post family in the early 1980s.

Shortly after that, Trump began negotiations to buy it. He closed the deal in 1985, purchasing it for a reported $8 million — $5 million for the property and $3 million for Post's furnishings.

Not a bad deal considering it was built over four years in the early 1920s at an estimated cost of $7 million, which is about $90 million today, according to Smithsonian Magazine

Trump established the property as a luxury country club in 1995 and changed the name from simply Mar-a-Lago to The Mar-a-Lago Club. 

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Mar-a-Lago trivia

  • Membership costs include an initiation fee of $200,000 plus tax, $14,000 annual dues (plus tax) and a $2,000 food minimum.
  • Amenities include a pool facility, spa, fitness center, salon, tennis courts, croquet court, pitch-and-putt golf course and two ballrooms.
  • It's a five-minute drive to Trump International Golf Club.
  • The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
  • The hurricane-resistant structure is anchored to a coral reef by concrete and steel.
  • Trump built a 20,000-square-foot ballroom with $7 million in gold leaf and four gold-plated sinks worth $100,000.
  • When Trump is in residence, he and his family stay in a private wing 
  • Notable members have included Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington and Elizabeth Taylor, according to Town&Country magazine. 
  • Notable concert performers include Céline Dion, Billy Joel and Diana Ross
  • Notable attendees to events include Hillary Clinton, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Sean “P. Diddy, Sylvester Stallone, William Shatner,  Vanessa Williams, Jay Leno, Shirley MacLaine, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short, Lionel Richie, Woody Allen and Rod Stewart 
  • Mar-a-Lago earned a 6-Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. 

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