Location: Old Westbury
Built for: John S. Phipps and Margarita Grace
Architect: George A. Crawley
Guided Tours: Yes
The most famous of all Long Island estates, Westbury House at Old Westbury Gardens is probably the best preserved example of life in the Gilded Age. My introduction to the country houses of L.I. This place is incredible. It was John S. (Jay) Phipps' wedding gift to his bride Margarita Grace. An English manor house set on hundreds of acres of formal gardens, lakes, polo fields and natural woodlands. The interiors are overwhelming with decorated ceilings, carved woodwork and plaster detailing.
There are tours of Westbury House as well as garden tours. They also host a multitude of programs and events inside and outside the house year round. These include: concerts, car shows and the Scottish Games. Caber tossing, anyone?
After entering the impressive gates to the estate, you drive through an allee of trees and eventually emerge to see Westbury House majestically sitting atop a hill up a ways on your right. An awe inspiring sight. Some of the highlights of a visit are: the Red Ballroom (these people knew how to party), the west porch with its floor to ceiling windows that can be hydraulically lowered into the basement and the walled garden. There are gardens for every taste. A boxwood garden with Grecian columns and fountain, a ghost walk, rose garden, pet cemetary (not the Stephen King kind), thatched cottage for the daughter and little log cabins for the boys. There are also several fountains and a coi pond. Standing on the rear terrace and looking down the long allee of trees towards the south gate is a calssic view. This estate has also been used in several movies.
Look closely at the bookcases in the study. This is the room immediately to the right of the front hall. There is a section that of fake books that conceale a closet that held Mr. Phipps's priceless Stradivarious and Guarnerios violins.
A close inspection of the walls of the Red Ballroom will reveal where the original ended before it was expanded.
The ceiling of Mr. Phipps' office reveals a different story. Look up at the plasterwork on the ceiling. There are many carved fruits and vegetables. This is because this room was originally the dining room.
The current dining room was originally part of Henry Phipps' (John's father) Manhattan townhouse. It was taken apart and reassembled in Westbury House in 1927.
Read the fascinating memoirs of daughter, Peggy Phipps in her book Halcyon Days. Find out what it was like to grow up on a Gold Coast estate.
SOME IMAGES AND MANY OTHERS ARE AVAILABLE AS FRAMED ART, PRINTS, POSTERS, POSTCARDS AND MORE
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