Long Island's Gold Coast Ruins
May 3, 2008 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Ruins and Remnants of Long Island's Gold Coast Mansions. Some still standing are in private hands, others are public. A surprising number of castles and moats.
posted by 445supermag (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not really about celebrating the uber-rich, but I really admire the "grand country home." I look at these places and then at the likes of what the local cajillionaires build, like Gates's or Allen's places and wonder where the sense of style went.

Then again, they probably don't need a staff of 100 just to keep the building running...
posted by maxwelton at 8:20 AM on May 3, 2008

Thank you for the post, 445. I happen to enjoy the "grand country home" thing as well, but what is even more interesting is all the time, money, and passion that was put into designing, building, and outfitting these places. And then within a few decades, they're destroyed.

Hopefully, we'll see the same thing with the McMansions in fifty years.
posted by Kibbutz at 8:24 AM on May 3, 2008

No wonder Europe laughs at us. Our history seems to only go back as far as 1952.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:43 AM on May 3, 2008

Because we live in this neck of the woods, I once went to a talk by the late middle-aged author Monica Randall (mentioned in the links) about her rather brilliant book about the old Gold Coast mansions.

One bit that stuck was her description of herself as a curious kid on a bicycle when she first got interested in a few mansions - now all gone - that had remained long empty and unloved but intact. She sometimes actually found wardrobes full of worn period clothes just left behind - not the best Gatsby-party stuff that was probably carted off with the bankrupt owners - but, still, gorgeous summer frocks and hats and shoes, swimsuits, maids uniforms and the like which she simply "rescued"!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:55 AM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Few of today's McMansions are going to last 50 years. Current construction techniques are much shoddier than most people realize, and once the fashion changes they won't be worth trying to keep in repair.
posted by localroger at 9:57 AM on May 3, 2008

wonder where the sense of style went


First principle- you have to either care about style or care that other people care about style, and ever since ties became a mark of eccentricity or security agents, well.... Back in the day of real social insecurity, you achieved new money, you wanted to make the grade, you did care. Marry the daughter to the son of an earl, get instant cache, that sort of thing. Think Edith Wharton. Hard to imagine Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or, God help us, Donald Trump giving a crap. Their kids- well, the Trump spawn seems all business, and we will have to wait for the others.) Anyway, much cooler to have a ten foot hi def television than a molded plaster ceiling in this day and age. Or so it would appear.

Interesting question also, could you even find the kind of artisans who could do the necessary work?

(Mind you, there might have been hope back in the eighties, but the moment is passed, whether for good or for ill is up to the individual to decide.)

Sorry, starting to ramble, and I could go on and on.... Nice post, even if the long lines are still queueing outside the comic book store.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:34 AM on May 3, 2008

Great post! I love stuff like this. One of my favorite places to visit is Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina.

Though, I do agree with maxwelton - I'm not fond of the Robber Barons and their ilk, but I do love the architectural beauties they left behind.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 1:56 PM on May 3, 2008

I live in this neck of the woods, too - right near the Sands Point Preserve, which contains two beautiful castle-like buildings, including one formerly owned by the Guggenheims.

My favorite part of the fpp:

Knollwood Charles Hudson estate, demolished 1959-Also referred to as the King Zog estate, this site is now a part of the Muttontown Preserve.

Damn you, Kal-El!!
posted by ericbop at 6:17 PM on May 3, 2008

Christ, I want a house like that.

Okay, more accurately I want Sandringham or Balmoral (in the UK; Queen's private residences), or, my god, Blenheim Palace (seat of the Churchills). But really, any moderately stately home set amongst a thousand or two acres of mostly untouched forest with some farming area would be quite acceptable.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:05 PM on May 3, 2008

Few of today's McMansions are going to last 50 years.

I know this is a popular thought, and I hold it myself for "typical" McMansions--the kind that are less than a million dollars. But the kinds of places being built by the exceptionally rich? They ain't covered in vinyl siding. When you spend $50 or $60 million on an apartment, you can assume those places have fairly solid foundations.

And stone buildings are a bitch, maintenance-wise. A castle is a wisely designed domicile only when you are guaranteed a stable supply of cheap labor that will keep the place standing. If they're afraid of marauding hoards of plague-infested serfs, that's even better.

The average billionaire doesn't live in the 12th century. Here in the 21st century, we have financial institutions and Swiss gold and insurance companies. We don't need stone fucking walls. People (particularly Americans, with their Old World inferiority complexes) have this completely unwarranted belief in the soundness of The Great Artisans from the Old World. Screw that. Here we have this stuff called technology. Here we have insulation and ceilings that don't have birds living in them. I know it's a drag not having access to quarter-sawn wood, but steel beams dress up real nice and will probably last a lot longer.

Anyway, my point is, a lot of McMansions will most certainly last the expected design use. If you plan on a lineage to inherit your vast wealth and have the fortune of a governmental system that protects that lineage, that's one thing. But if you just recently had your stock go public and your bank account went up from a buck-fifty to $1.5 billion, well, you're probably not concerned much with legacy, anyway.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:48 PM on May 4, 2008

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