America’s most densely populated island, Long Island, has a history spanning several centuries, from scenic beaches and historical sites to sprawling mansions and expansive vineyards.
While there are a variety of features that Long Island possesses that make it an ideal tourist attraction, one of its most prevalent elements is the presence of several homes of the elite in their famed Gold Coast mansions.
From former presidents and magnates to renowned artists and aristocrats, these houses have a past deep-rooted with people who shaped American culture.
This is why you must, at least once, visit Old Westbury Garden. One of the Gold Coast Mansions is perhaps the one many people are most likely to find familiar due to it serving as inspiration for The Great Gatsby.
The start of its construction lies in a promise by businessman John Shaffer Phipps, an heir of the Phipps magnates, to his fiancé Margarita Grace, an heiress as a daughter of business magnate Michael P. Grace. He vowed to have built a home that resembled her family’s British estate, Battle Abbey, in America.
The architect for the house was the British George Crawley, and the American Grosvenor Atterbury assisted him. The house is one of the most notable works of the former. Construction began sometime in 1903 and was completed by 1906 when Phipps and his now-wife moved in with their children.
As one can imagine, its opulence and breath-taking Charles II-style build is a sight to behold, so it is not to be missed if you are interested in architectural history.
Spread over around 200-acres with many formal landscaped gardens and a 44-room manor, it is an ideal scenic location for a day out. Inherited by the Phipps’ daughter Peggie, she wished to share the beauty of the gardens with the public in honour of her mother’s memory.
Old Westbury Garden officially opened as a non-profit in 1959. The landscape architect Barbara Capen brought on to redesign several areas that were planted according to the spring and autumn months.
Since its inauguration as a public garden, it has attracted tourists. It hosts events such as guided tours of the house and gardens, concerts, Scottish Games, book signings, educational visits and programs and even car shows and talks. It was listed in the National Register for Historic Places in 2010.
Significance In Media
For film buffs, Long Island itself is attractive enough. After all, it’s not known as Hollywood East for nothing. But many might find Old Westbury Garden somewhat familiar. It served as the inspiration behind the set for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film The Great Gatsby.
Designed by set designer Catherine Martin, the manner depicted in the film borrowed Westbury’s artistry, often known as Gatsby’s home. Fans of the film should probably make the trip to the house at least once in their lives to step right into the pages of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed novel.
And it doesn’t stop there. The house has also served as a backdrop for over 25 movies, including Cruel Intentions, The Age of Innocence, Wolf, Hitch and American Gangster.
So, whether you’re a history enthusiast or film fanatic, there are plenty of reasons you must visit Old Westbury Garden at least once in your lifetime.