The History of the Winter White House  

The History of the Winter White House

Blog | January 5, 2016

Nearly 100 years ago, the historically significant “Winter White House,” as it has come to be known, was built in Palm Beach, Florida. The two-story Mediterranean style structure with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean on North Ocean Boulevard was designed by renowned Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner, and was commissioned by department store executive Lewis Rodman Wanamaker II. 

Mizner was an icon in Southern Florida architecture, known for his Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial approach in building some of the most recognizable resorts, mansions and buildings in Palm Beach and Boca Raton. The architect also operated Mizner Industries, a manufacturing company that supplied the tiles, stone, metalwork and furniture for many of his projects; through his iconic “Palm Beach Style,” Mizner’s company grew into one of the largest manufacturing companies in Palm Beach in the 1920s.


Society architect, Addison Mizner, created the “Palm Beach style” with his design for the Everglades Club at 4 Via Parigi in 1918. He quickly found that he was not able to purchase the tile and iron work he needed for his Spanish designs through local suppliers. He took over a blacksmith shop to make lighting fixtures and ornamental grills and built his own kilns to make the roof tiles. 

Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. bought the oceanfront home along with the original Mizner furniture in 1933 for $120,000, and shortly thereafter hired another prominent architect, Maurice Fatio, to renovate the property to accommodate his large and growing family. One of the most characteristic additions was the long covered walkway that extended from the main house to the street. This walkway was the site of many press conferences and announcements by the Kennedy family over the years.


President Kennedy and his daughter Caroline walk toward the entrance of the Palm Beach home to attend Easter Sunday service in the home’s private chapel.

The residence remained in the Kennedy family for over 60 years as the permanent residence of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and was a frequent retreat for President John F. Kennedy, his siblings and their families. In 1961, when John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States, the Palm Beach home was nicknamed the “Winter White House,” and the estate became the location for significant presidential meetings and appointments, including the nomination of Secretary of State Dean Rusk and the press conference announcement of the Kennedy administration cabinet in 1960.


President Kennedy announces his cabinet at a historic press conference that took place on the west loggia of the Winter White House in 1960.

President Kennedy’s last weekend was spent at the Winter White House in November of 1963, before leaving for Dallas, Texas.

In 1995, New York businessman John Castle purchased the 11-bedroom home with many of its original contents, including the Mizner furniture, which he kept intact.  Mr. and Mrs. Castle went to great lengths to preserve the historic home and its contents, and now over 150 of these items from the Kennedy compound are being sold at auction. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ Property from the Winter White House, Palm Beach, Florida auction will take place January 23, 2016.  


The “Cabinet Room” as owned by the Castle family, featuring the President’s favorite easy chair.

Photographer Bob Davidoff took countless images of the Kennedys over the years, including the image of the First Family on their way to Easter Mass in 1963. This photograph, framed and given to the Castles by the artist, is one of the featured lots in the auction.  For more information about this sale or to order a printed catalogue, please click here.

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