Old Westbury Gardens – one of the best-preserved of the Gold Coast Estates
Old Westbury Gardens, one of Long Island New York’s Gold Coast treasures, was once the estate of John Shaffer Phipps. This stately Charles II-style mansion was built in fulfillment of a promise by Phipps to his English fiancée that he would build her a home on US soil very much like her family estate in Battle Abbey, UK. Mr. Phipps, who died in 1958, was the heir to a U.S. Steel fortune.
Construction of this typically almost mirror-balanced edifice began in 1903. Mr. Phipps hired the English designer, George A. Crawley, to oversee the design and construction of this stately home, in Old Westbury, NY. The twenty-three room home was completed under Mr. Crawley’s watchful eye in 1906. Winston Churchill was the godfather of the child sitting on his grandmother’s knee in the grand dining room of the mansion.
Old Westbury Gardens is now a museum home, helping to preserve some of the heritage that made Gold Coast homes famous. In 1959, shortly after the death of John Shaffer Phipps, the estate was opened to the public. It has been open for tours every since, from early spring to late fall. There are no tours on Tuesdays.
This grand estate has been used for numerous movies and television series. These include the epic film, Love Story, for the home of Oliver Barrett IV, played by actor Ryan O’Neal. Many other movies have been filmed on the estate, including 8MM, American Gangster, Bernard and Doris, Cruel Intentions, Hitch, North by Northwest, The Age of Innocence, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, The Manchurian Candidate (2004), To Wong Foo, and Wolf. This has also been used for scenes in the television series, Royal Pains and Gossip Girl.
From the massive and ornate chimney in the center of the house to the staircases leading down to the lawns and gardens, everything from one side of center to the other very nearly mirrored its counterpart. Such was the common (and some would suggest boring) architecture of this particular style.
However, when you stand before such an impressive mansion as Old Westbury Gardens for the first time, you will find it anything but boring! From a distance, you could almost imagine this being some kind of wealthy child’s dollhouse, complete with porcelain dolls. Sitting on some 200 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds, formal gardens, woodlands, ponds and lakes, this is a gem well worth visiting!
Old Westbury Gardens is listed in the National Register of History Places. Such listing helps ensure that this impressive home is protected for many more years to come. It is one of the “must visit” destinations on Long Island, NY.
Getting to Old Westbury Gardens is naturally best via a chauffeured Long Island limousine. Ride in comfort and style right to this prestigious estate, just as perhaps John Shaffer Phipps once did with his lovely wife, Margarita, by his side.