Exploring the Gold Coast Mansions of Long Island

By PropertyClub Team
May 16th 2024
As time goes on and the modern era of real estate evolves with culture, walking down memory lane brings a nostalgia we often long for — even if we’ve never experienced the architecture in its original form. This is the feeling evoked when touring some of the famous Long Island mansions.

Long Island’s most lavish, historic mansions line the Gold Coast, located on the island’s North Shore, were once built by some of the country’s richest people. Between the decades spanning from the 1890s to the 1930s, over 1,200 mansions were constructed. Today, roughly a third of those remain. 

Let's take a look at 5 of the most famous Long Islands mansions that are open to the public. 

hash-markGold Coast Mansions of Long Island

  1. Old Westbury Gardens
  2. Hempstead House at Sands Point
  3. Mill Neck Manor
  4. Oheka Castle
  5. The Vanderbilt Mansion

hash-markOld Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens is one of the most impressive Long Island mansions. This lovely English-manorial-styled mansion was built by architect George A. Crawley sometime between 1903-1906. It was meant to resemble Margarita of England’s estate: the Battle Abbey estate. Crawley designed the manor with 23 bedrooms, grand reception halls, and 200 acres of formal gardens for John Shaffer Phipps, who lived from 1874-1958 and was the heir to the U.S. Steel fortune. It’s one of the most beloved mansions on the Gold Coast.

Some of the events available for public visitors include guided tours, museum exhibits, classic car shows, outdoor concerts, horticultural demonstrations, Scottish Games, and various lectures on art, history, design, and architecture. 

hash-markHempstead House at Sands Point

The 3-story Hempstead House at Sands Point is another one of the most famous Gold Coast mansions on Long Island. It is one of the four mansions located on the Guggenheim Estate, which also include Castle Gould, Falaise, and Mille Fleur. Designed in 1912 by architects Hunt & Hunt, the 50,000-square-foot mansion features 40 rooms and a 60-foot-tall foyer in the entryway. The first two floors of the estate measure nearly 2 acres.

The estate also has a personal library with walnut panels, which was copied from King James I’s palace. When Guggenheim occupied the mansion, it was filled with decorations, expensive artwork, and historic furnishings. 

Today, the mansion is used for concerts, lectures, weddings, and photography year-round. 

hash-markMill Neck Manor 

The Tudor Revival Mansion-style Mill Neck Manor is another favorite among visitors. It was built by the architectural team of Clinton & Russell, Wells, Holton & George in 1923, with Charles Leavitt as the landscape artist. It contains two stories with 34 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, and 86 acres overlooking the Long Island Sound. It was built for Robert Leftwich Dodge and his wife, cosmetics heiress Lillian Sefton Dodge, for $2,000,000. In 1949, it was sold to Lutheran Friends of the Deaf for $216,000, who still own the mansion today. It is currently under restoration in an effort to preserve the property. The solid oak doorway is between 400-500 years old, covered in iron details and hardware created by Samuel Yellin.

hash-markOheka Castle

Considered a “prized jewel” among the Gold Coast mansions, the Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, is now used as a luxury hotel. Built nearly a century ago, the castle is the second-largest private residence ever built in the U.S. Philanthropist Otto Herman Kahn built the estate during the Gilded Age. Kahn used the 109,000-square-foot, 127-room estate as a summer getaway and hosted large parties routinely attended by Hollywood celebrities, royalty elites, and politicians. After Kahn died in 1934, the mansion was passed into several different ownerships over the decades — undergoing wear-and-tear — until 1984 when Gary Melius purchased the castle and sought to restore it to its original glory. Khan replaced over 200 windows and doors with custom-made duplicates, with other parts of the castle, like the staircase, taking months to be refinished. 

Now, as a member of the Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide, the Oheka Castle is a famed location for weddings, films, and other media appearances. Tours are also available to the public.

hash-markThe Vanderbilt Mansion

The Vanderbilt Mansion, built by William Kissam Vanderbilt during the industrial revolution in 1910, is a symbol of opulence for the 1920s and represents the shining riches of the Vanderbilt family’s successes. The mansion was inspired by Vanderbilt’s overseas voyages in the Mediterranean and designed by his architects. It is also known as the “Eagle’s Nest” mansion since it was meant to be a bachelor’s pad and has a front-row view overlooking the Long Island Sound. It is now used as a museum and planetarium.