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The Manse / William Collins Whitney Estate
"The Manse" | Whitney Estate in Old Westbury, Long Island, NY, was inherited by Harry Payne Whitney (Gertrude Vanderbilt) following the death of his father William Collins Whitney. The Tudor-style house was designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1902 for the 1,000-acre Whitney estate.
The key-hole opening in the brick wall dividing Mona's remarkable gardens, one of the many charming touches of Oak Point. Evan had many memorable embraces in this portal to young adulthood, furtive stolen moments with half of one's attention focused on evading the shotgun wielding superintendent. Living next door gave him an advantage in that area, as detailed in this roman à clef about Mona, her life and times. Photo by Lynn Decker, also of Bayville.
1966. Evan's parents sued Mona three times to tone down the development. The Charles house, Green Hithe, was due west of the estate. Note the golf course near the beach, and the large greensward leading to the torn-down "big house." Matinecock Indians held ceremonial rituals here, and their spirits pervade the property. Many mysterious doings hereabouts are recorded in CIRCUS. Once a luminous parcel of land, it is now lost to the ages.
The gatehouses to Oak Point, Mona's Bayville estate. The trees had grown sufficiently by Evan's time as to practically envelope the houses, where various caretakers and maids lived. Both were torn down to make way for the odious development built there in the seventies. Those houses all cost over a million dollars today. Evan well remembered the crushing depression he felt walking around the property as they were being built. All good things must come to an end.
Green Hithe is the name of the Victorian house of the Charles family, where Evan was brought up until age 14, when the family moved on after his father's death. Steps from L.I. Sound and Mona's estate, it was a staging area for many adventures, and the eden of Evan's romance with Taffy, one of the two heroines of CIRCUS. Their abiding passion is the focus of events in Mona's domain when she is absent, and they evoke a sense of saudade.
Superintendent's cottage at Oak Point, which Evan and company took great pains to avoid when this was all up-and-running so long ago. A recent photo, this house ironically far exceeds the quality of the houses in the development. When Evan was younger, his parents used to buy X-mas wreaths that the superintendent made from the fragrant balsam firs on the property. Close your eyes, and you can smell them again. Where did it all go?
Mona's stables, which had room for 20 of the large cars of the era. In a bid to lower her taxes, she donated the complex to Evan's village. This is the village library, flanked by (unseen) various civic spaces, such as the village hall, a museum devoted largely to her, Boy and Girl Scouts, and a recreation center. She also donated about 30 acres of woods at the same time. This part of her estate had been called The Farm, as much of the produce consumed at the estate had been grown there.
North Shore Long Island: Country Houses 1890-1950-
Eagle's Nest | Centerport, Long Island, NY. Conceived (1910) as modest bachelor's getaway, William K. Vanderbilt's summer estate grew to include 43-acres of rolling hills and a 24-room Spanish Revival mansion, unique in the region. Note: the 11-hole golf course; a round salt water pool, near the shoreline right; and a boat house and dock, shoreline left. Further left, not pictured, was a huge concrete seaplane hangar. Now Suffolk County's Vanderbilt Museum.