Built for: Benjamin & Alexandra Emery Moore
Architect: Delano & Aldrich
Guided Tours: No
Chelsea in Muttontown is one of the quirkier estates on the Island. Not in a bad way though. It was built in 1924 for Benjamin Moore (not the paint guy). His great, great grandfather was Clement Moore who wrote "'T'was the Night Before Christmas". The estate is now part of The Muttontown Preserve. It was named Chelsea because the Moore family came from Chelsea, England.
Entering off of 25A, you take about a mile drive winding through the woods to build up the drama and give you a sense of really being in quiet retreat away from everyday life. First impressions of the mostly unadorned front of the house with the small porthole windows shouldn't deter you from what follows. The other elevations of the house are more interesting. One of the unique features is the moat that goes around one side and the rear of the house. You have to cross small bridges to get to the house. The bridge in the back leads to a great flagstone courtyard. As you walk around the grounds, you will encounter something new and interesting at each turn. Walking around the east side of the house through a door in the wall with a turret at one end, you will encounter a small grassy area with a beautiful serpentine brick wall. Going down the stairs brings you to the pond. The pond is now home to plenty of plant growth, but at one time it was a nice clean swimming hole. There is a now overgrown path that leads to the opposite side of the pond to what was once a small patio. Another path once followed a creek to a an Rainbow Bridge, a gazebo and pet cemetery. I believe the greenhouses were also located around there. Nature has taken back a lot of the grounds in this area. The back of the house has sort of maze garden with oddly shaped trees and bushes as well as a new fountain. The west side of the grounds feature another turret as well as an Oriental moon gate. Moving away from the house, there is an area that appears to have been an orchard and passed that some type of sunken garden. The steps going down are all crumbled and the area is in disrepair, but you can make out some type of metal structure in the middle with some other metal poles sticking out of the ground. These are surrounded by a half moon of interesting looking trees at the rear.
I'm not sure if they give formal tours of the interior at this time. I went during Christmas time when it was decorated for the holidays and tours were given. It seems like the mansion is now being used more for weddings and events. Again, the front facade doesn't prepare you for the rest of the house. It's very comfortable and livable inside. The rooms are not overwhelming in size and feel very homey. One standout is the reception room. Also known as the Sert Gallery for the artist who created the mural "The Evocation of the Mediterranean". It is the largest room in the house and kind of has an Art Deco feel. The giant 85 foot mural surrounds the entire room and it is mostly lit by the huge windows that look out over the moat towards the pond. Other rooms including the dining room, living room and library contain antique architectural elements gathered on world travels. The paneling in the dining room came from the house of the Duke of Wellington.
A quirky place that turned out to be one of may favorites. It was good to see all the work done around the grounds. The abundance of flowers and urns have really brought the estate back to life. There are still quite a few areas that could use some rehab, but all in all the Moore's would be proud.
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