Little-known feature of Mar-a-Lago: bomb shelters

Mar-a-Lago’s flag pole and coat-of-arms have drawn attention, but not so much has been said about its Red Scare-era bomb shelters.

Hidden inside the hedges bordering President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the shelters now could provide an added sense of security for cabinet members and international leaders joining the president on his Palm Beach weekends.

In fact, Mar-a-Lago is home to three bomb shelters, along with dozens of bedrooms, more than two dozen bathrooms, two pools and a walkway that runs under South Ocean Boulevard to the beach.

The bomb shelters are no secret: Cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, who built Mar-a-Lago in 1927, had the bomb shelters installed during the Korean War. They were mentioned in nearly every Palm Beach Post report on the sale of Mar-a-Lago to Trump in the mid-1980s. And Trump has occasionally spoken of them since.

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In a 2007 Esquire profile, then-businessman Trump told writer Tom Junod that three of his properties are equipped with bunkers — Mar-a-Lago, Trump International Golf Club in suburban West Palm Beach and Trump’s estate in Westchester, New York. The bomb shelter at the golf course now serves a different purpose.

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“It gave us excellent elevation, and now, when members tee off on the second hole, they’re teeing off from the top of a bomb shelter,” Trump told Esquire.

Though the bomb shelters at Mar-a-Lago were used mostly for storage after the president bought the estate in 1985 — former Trump butler Anthony Senecal told The Tampa Bay Times he used one as his office, while the others were used for bakery and banquet storage — Trump told Esquire he would pick Mar-a-Lago’s bomb shelters over Trump International or Westchester.

“We did tests, and the foundation is anchored into the coral reef with steel and concrete,” Trump said. “That sucker’s going nowhere.”

Trump also has access to another bomb shelter in Palm Beach County, one built for President John F. Kennedy to protect him from nuclear fallout should a missile have hit during one of Kennedy’s visits to his family’s compound in Palm Beach. That bunker, squirreled away in the scrub on Peanut Island just north of West Palm Beach in the Intracoastal Waterway, now is open for tours.

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