March 10, 2011
Adios, "Gatsby" mansion
by Valerie Merians
“Lands End, the 25-room Colonial Revival mansion that local lore says was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for Daisy Buchanan‘s home in The Great Gatsby faces demolition this month,” according to this report in Newsday.
The once-grand white house that overlooks the Long Island Sound from the tip of Sands Point, NY, had an illustrious past. According to Newsday, “In the 1920s and ’30s, Winston Churchill, the Marx Brothers and Ethel Barrymore attended parties there. Fitzgerald was perched on the back deck, drinking in the view. Rooms featured marble, parquet and wide wood-planked floors, Palladian windows and hand-painted wallpaper.”
But things have changed since that storied past, the Newsday report continues:
Now, the front door is off its hinges, wood floors have been torn up for salvage, windows are missing and the two-story Doric columns are unsteady. Sands Point Village in January approved plans to raze the house and divide the site into lots for five custom homes starting at $10 million each….
“The cost to renovate these things is just so overwhelming that people aren’t interested in it,” said Clifford Fetner, president of Jaco Builders in Hauppauge and Lands End project construction manager. “The value of the property is the land.”
J.P. Morgan‘s estate on East Island and Louis C. Tiffany‘s estate in Laurel Hollow are just some of the hundreds of opulent homes along Long Island’s Gold Coast that have been lost to the wrecking ball in the last 50 years. “The state Offices of Parks and Historic Preservation acknowledged that the costs of rehabilitation were prohibitive,” according to Newsday.
It’s like the man said: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Or perhaps, in this instance, borne ceaselessly into the present.
Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.