Man of the Century: The Incomparable Legacy of Henry Morrison Flagler
October 15, 2013 - January 5, 2014
Two thousand thirteen marks the 100th anniversary of the end of Henry Flagler's amazing life, and thus it is the ideal year to reflect on the legacy of Flagler, the person who literally invented modern Florida by laying the foundation for an economy that now ranks third among U.S. states and is larger than 90% of the countries on earth. The Flagler Museum's Fall Exhibition, Man of the Century: The Incomparable Legacy of Henry Morrison Flagler illustrates the stunning impact that Flagler had upon American business and Florida. Man of the Century examines his accomplishments in the areas of business, development, and philanthropy through photographs, maps, documents, and artifacts.
By the time of his death in 1913, Henry Flagler had accumulated almost unimaginable wealth from his business ventures. Flagler's estate was worth an estimated $100 million dollars, equivalent to more than $12.5 billion dollars today. Like other wealthy Gilded Age captains of industry and commerce, Flagler understood his obligation to society to distribute his wealth in such a way that created opportunities for others. According to Flagler, "The hardest problem a man has is how to help people. The desire to help others comes when a man has more than enough for his own needs. I have come to the conclusion that the best way to help others is to help them help themselves."
Henry Flagler's contributions provided land for dozens of schools, churches, parks, courthouses, libraries, hospitals, and cemeteries throughout Florida, especially in Palm Beach County. Photographs, artifacts, and archival documents in the exhibition document Flagler's numerous philanthropic gestures. Even after his death, Flagler's wealth continued to help Florida communities. In fact, a century after Henry Flagler's death, there is more than one billion dollars of his fortune invested in endowments or trusts that support more than 50 million dollars in educational, charitable, and cultural programs nationwide each year.
Man of the Century: The Incomparable Legacy of Henry Morrison Flagler was organized by the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, from its unparalleled collections.
Image caption: A rare candid photograph of Henry Morrison Flagler at the opening of the Knight's Key section of the Over-Sea Railroad in January, 1908. Knight's Key was the southern terminus for the Florida East Coast Railway until the 1912 opening of the Over-Sea Railroad, the most ambitious engineering project ever undertaken by a private citizen. © Henry Morrison Flagler Museum Archives