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Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Old Westbury Gardens welcomes summer
(Page 3 of 4)
Courtesy Vince Kish
Ethereal Visions: Old Westbury Gardens is the setting for an evening with the Isadora Duncan Dance Company on Saturday. The dancers, who make their way throughout the whimsically decorated gardens, are the centerpiece of “Midsummer Weekend.”
Another piece of Long Island history, the Falaise mansion, is also well worth a visit this time of year. This elegant mansion, built in the style of a 13th century Norman manor house, is one of the last of the remaining great estates that once made up Long Island’s Gold Coast.
Falaise, which reopened for tours this month (and remains open through Oct. 27), was built on a bluff above the Long Island Sound in 1923 for Harry F. Guggenheim and his wife, Caroline, on what is now the Sands Point Preserve. The mansion’s fascinating architecture is French eclectic, based on a 13th-century Norman manor house. Exterior features include an enclosed cobblestone courtyard, thickly mortared brick walls, a steeply pitched roof of heavy tile, and a round tower.
The son of noted 19th-century industrialist and philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim, Harry Guggenheim was himself a businessman, diplomat and philanthropist who served as a Navy pilot in both World War I and World War II. Guggenheim’s lifelong fascination with aviation led to friendships with Charles Lindbergh, a frequent visitor to Falaise, and rocket pioneer Dr. Robert Goddard. Guggenheim also started up Newsday with his third wife, Alicia Paterson.
Perhaps the most impressive of the North Shore’s early-20th-century estates, Sands Point first served as the home for railroad heir Howard Gould and was later purchased by Daniel and Florence Guggenheim. The preserve is dominated by the massive English Manor house, Hempstead House, as well as the 100,000-square-foot stable, Castlegould.
Falaise is furnished with antiques, many from the 16th and 17th centuries, woodcarvings, sculptures and Renaissance paintings. These and other furnishings recall Guggenheim’s military career, passion for aviation, public service, interest in thoroughbred horse racing, and long friendships with. Lindbergh and Goddard, among others.
At a private tour just prior to the official public opening, Charles Lindbergh was quoted saying that he considered Falaise, “One of the most beautiful buildings in the world.”
The grand home officially opened to the public in 1973, two years after Guggenheim passed away.


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