Historic Sea Gull Cottage, built in 1886, was known throughout the late 1880s and the 1890s as the “showplace along the shores” of Lake Worth. Built by R.R. McCormick, a Denver railroad and land developer, the house, a shingle style cottage typical of Palm Beach’s earliest architecture, stood approximately three hundred yards to the north of today’s Henry M. Flagler Museum.
Local residents in the pre-Flagler era remarked on the four distinctive features of Sea Gull Cottage known then as McCormick’s Cottage: its sparkling stained glass, its magnificent mahogany staircase constructed from lumber salvaged from a local shipwreck, its cool Georgian marble entry-way floors, and its commanding third story tower.
After seeing pictures of McCormick’s beautiful home in 1893, Flagler decided to purchase the lake-to-ocean tract and the house from McCormick for $75,000. Sea Gull, then known as Croton Cottage became Flagler’s winter residence until the completion of his adjacent mansion, Whitehall, in 1902.
In 1913, Flagler moved Sea Gull Cottage from lakeside to the oceanfront. It became one of the Breakers Hotel rental cottages. It was on Breakers Row that it acquired the name Sea Gull Cottage.
When the aging and weathered structure was threatened with demolition in 1984, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach rescued and had it relocated again across the island and restored near its original lakefront location on land provided by the Royal Poinciana Chapel.