Long Island Mansions Guide

My unofficial guide to fine country house living.

Eagle's Nest

Location: Centerport

Built: 1910 expanded until 1936

Built for: William K Vanderbilt Jr

Architect: Warren & Wetmore

Rooms: 27

Acres: 43

Guided Tours: Yes

Eagle's Nest started as the bachelor pad for William K. Vanderbilt II in Centerport. Started in 1910 and expanded until 1936, it  eventually  included several more wings and a museum, the Hall of Fishes, to house his marine collection. Most people are familiar with the estate because of the planetarium which is located on the area that used to be the tennis courts. I remember school trips there and later going back to see some laser shows. Laser Pink Floyd was great. But I digress, the house is built like a Spanish or Mediterranean fortress with stucco reliefs and red tile roofs. The two large eagles at the entrance to the estate were taken from the original Grand Central Station. You then come to an area with a view that cuts through the trees. This area features columns that come from the ancient ruins of Carthage. The Belgian block pathway leads to the main house. You enter the courtyard through a bell tower with a spiked wooden gate hanging overhead . The courtyard is one of the highlights of the estate. Very tranquil.

The house itself doesn't contain any grand rooms like Old Westbury Gardens being that it originally started out as a bungalow where Vanderbilt could dock his yacht. It does contain many antiques and a pipe organ. There are tours given of the house and you can tell by the unorthodox flow of the house how it was added on to over the years. A favorite room on the tour is the porch area that overlooks the water. What a view. It's also interesting to see some of the service areas of the house that are now part of the tour. They also now give a living history tour that is a lot of fun. Step back in time as you learn the history of the house.

There are a few small gardens around the house, but again not on the scale of some of the other estates. The only one that comes close is the rose garden near the planetarium. I like the terrace with the reflecting pool that overlooks the lawn and water. Wandering around is interesting. There are many little nooks with interesting features including statuary, fountains and a wishing well. The grounds also used to contain a nine hole golf course with the first tee on the roof of the Hall of Fishes. You can also walk down to the boathouse where Vanderbilt once docked his famous yacht, The Alva.






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