Gould/Guggenheim Estate

by Chris Bain 

Growing up in Port Washington in the 60’s and 70’s, it was always just "The Guggenheim Estate”.  Although it had been built by Howard Gould, and reportedly modeled after the castles of Kilkenny, Ireland which had been visited on his honeymoon, the property was sold to Daniel Guggenheim in 1917.  Daniel christened the 228 foot wide castle overlooking Long Island Sound, Hempstead House and you can see its imposing structure in our first rare photograph, up on the hill.  The building on the right, dubbed “The Casino”, is long gone.

Below is a close-up from the estate-side entry drive, looking very much as it looks today.  

Would you like to go inside?  Read on!

Daniel’s son Harry was given 90 acres on the 220+ acre estate on which he built his own home Falaise in 1923.  Harry befriended aviator Charles Lindburgh in the mid 1920’s and when Lindburgh needed a quiet place to write his autobiography - - his 1927 trans-Atlantic ocean flight made him the biggest celebrity in the world - - Harry invited him to stay on the estate.  Harry backed his third wife’s ambitions to start a newspaper, and Alicia Patterson and Harry founded Newsday.

An archival view of Hempstead House from the Long Island Sound side.  Incredibly beautiful rose gardens,  formal plantings and two beautiful fountains now grace the lawn.  Did I mention you can visit?

From the Sands Point Preserve’s website, we learn: 

"In its heyday in the 1920s, Hempstead House revealed a taste for extravagance. In the Entry Foyer was an organ made of oak.  Medieval tapestries once hung on the walls, and oriental carpets covered the floor. The sunken Palm Court once contained 150 species of rare orchids and other plants. An aviary housed exotic birds in ornate cages among the flowers. The walnut-paneled Library was copied from the palace of King James I; The Billiard Room featured a gold leaf ceiling, hand-tooled leather wall coverings, and carved oak woodwork from a 17th century Spanish palace."

This archival postcard shows the view of Castle Gould across the massive lawn from Hempstead House, which was originally a stables. The building on the right is now the Phil Dejana Learning Center.

Hempstead House, and most of the rest of the property, passed to the Navy department early in WWII, becoming the Navy Special Devices Center for several decades.  The Navy painted the entire interior battleship gray (!), and then moved to Florida in 1967.  Disrepair set in, until the property was rescued, first by Nassau County, New York’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums.  In 2003, much of its care was taken over by the Friends of Sands Point Preserve who have brought the property back to life, and then some!

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