Last week NY Times blogger David Vecsey posted a story about Land’s End, a turn-of-the-century estate in Sands Point, NY (Long Island) that is slated for demolition this month. Plans for razing the house and subdividing, developing, then selling off the more than thirteen-acres of land were approved in January. The once grand Gold Coast estate is said to have inspired Daisy Buchanan’s house in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Photo by Joshua Bright for The New York Times
According to Vecsey, who lives nearby, the neighborhood around the estate is no longer bustling, but I’m not convinced that a sleepier, less lustrous community lessens the impact of losing such a phenomenal structure. Designed by Stanford White, one of America’s most influential architects (and partner of prominent firm McKim Mead and White), this magnificent colonial revival structure has truly earned a place in history. Sadly, a storied past and great bones are not enough to save a structure from demolition; hundreds of similarly grand mansions along Long Island’s Gold Coast have been lost to the wrecking ball over the last fifty years. While I know the estates are tremendously expensive to restore and maintain, it is still devastating that these stunning properties, which have stood for more than 100 years, are so often razed. I’m all for the new, but in some cases, they really don’t build ‘em like they used to, and I think its important for us to have physical examples of building techniques and styles of the past in order to inform the future.
Built in 1902, the estate sits on a prominent point that juts out into the Long Island Sound. Mr. Fitzgerald himself is rumored to have partied there in the 1920s and 1930s, along with the likes of Winston Churchill, Ethel Barrymore, the Duke and Dutchess of Windsor, Dorothy Parker and the Marx Brothers. Can you imagine the fancy soirees that took place in this stately home on the water? Earlier this month, curbed.com gave readers a glimpse into the estate, complete with Palladian windows, marble floors and walls, hand-pegged wide-plank oak and parquet de Versailles floors and hand-painted wallpaper, featuring photos from a real estate listing circa 1974-1975, courtesy Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.
The main 24,000 square foot building boasts 25 rooms, ten fireplaces
Note the amazing hand-painted Chinese wallpaper, original to the home, along with the marble fireplace and parquet floors
Glass-enclosed morning room with water view
Elegant living room with classical crown and base mouldings and parquet floors
The oak-paneled library boasts two fireplaces, a wet bar and hand-pegged oak wood floors
The glass-enclosed octagonal cabana, with rooftop sun terrace by day, party deck by night and the 75-foot swimming pool
Private drive and entrance circle
Photographer Jen Ross captured the haunting mansion in its current state. See more photos on her website.
Not quite as cozy as the above shot of the library
The former grandeur is still evident, its just a little dustier
Photos by Jen Ross
As a born and bred New Yorker, I tend to find beauty in the old. I know most people prefer the new. People like to live in big, recently built homes; I prefer smaller ones from the early- to mid-1900s because they have charm and quirks and stories to tell. Plus, new structures are often so shoddily thrown together that they, too, have “quirks,” but not the charming kind; more like the we-didn’t-even-think-about-this kind. I’m saddened by the loss of this estate and the mythical past it has seen. If these walls could talk! I am, however, glad we have a comprehensive library of photographs to keep the memories alive. I hope we don’t lose too many more of these wonderful relics. America is still a young country, as compared to other nations, and it would be nice to preserve physical, visit-able records of our history that aren’t “re-creations.”