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The current buzz surrounding The Great Gatsby creates a magical idea of the Gold Coast lifestyle – large country estates alive with lavish parties every night. Servants and guests secretly scampering through hidden passageways and expansive hallways, decorated with antique furniture and priceless pieces of art. Lit gardens in the evenings showcase statues, greenhouses, pools and fountains. But, what happens when the party ends? When the mansions were abandoned by the owners who could no longer maintain the high standard of living in a declining economy at the onset of the income tax?

Gold Coast-Abandoned-King Zog-Estate-Architectural Features-Muttontown Preserve-Untapped Cities Architectural features of the estate have been long abandoned at Muttontown Preserve.

Such is the case at Muttontown Preserve, in Brookville, Long Island. The preserve itself spans over 500 acres of fields and marked trails. The casual visitor can visit the nature preserve, experience the native habitiat, and take a leisurely stroll through the park without knowing the history which lies within it – a quick seven to ten minute walk from its entrance on Route 106 will bring the unknowing guest to the ruins of King Zog‘s mansion. 

Gold Coast-Abandoned-King Zog-Estate-Muttontown Preserve-Fountain-Untapped CitiesThe abandoned ruins of King Zog at Muttontown Preserve include this fountain, which was placed in front of the main residence.

According to the Nassau County Department of Parks, King Zog was the last monarch of Albania, and fled his country after the Italian invasion in 1939. He acquired the Knollwood Estate at Muttontown in 1951 for over $100,000, and it included a 60 room granite mansion designed by architects Hiss and Weekes. Zog chose to live in Europe and Africa instead, but he envisioned this mansion to be his new palace, staffing it with fellow Albanians. Sadly, he never moved there and sold the estate in 1955 to Landsell Christie. The mansion lay abandoned, and rumors began to spread about his hidden treasures within the mansion walls. Vandals quickly looted the property, and the new owners had the mansion demolished in 1959.

Gold Coast-Abandoned-King Zog-Estate-Muttontown Preserve-Water-Architectural Feature-Untapped Cities The ruins of the Gold Coast estate continue to be vandalized by modern day taggers.

Visiting the ruins can bring an ominous feeling – knowing that the surrounding 80 foot trees engulfing you were once tiny plantings. Silent and shattered, terrace walls, balustrades and columns now rest, toppled, hidden, and long forgotten. It is hard to imagine the promise that the mansion held for its owner, the hope that it represented to him and his family.

Gold Coast-Abandoned-King Zog-Estate-Muttontown-Walled Garden-Untapped Cities King Zog’s ruins include this walled garden.

According to the Society for the Preservation of Long Island’s Antiquities, about forty percent of mansions built on Long Island between the Civil War and World War II have been destroyed and tragically emptied. Others have been strategically repurposed and that’s where we will be reporting to you next time.

Gold Coast-Abandoned-King Zog-Estate-Muttontown-Columns-Untapped Cities Beautiful decorative features and ornamental designs now lay pillaged in the preserve.

Curious about the height of the Gold Coast and Gatsby Lifestyle? Sign up for my Sidetour. Also check out our photos of Land’s End, the abandoned mansion on Long Island that inspired Daisy Buchanan’s house in The Great Gatsby.

5 Comments

  1. john schoen says:

    i recently moved back to the island after being gone 22+years i’ve allways been somewhat of an urban explorer
    i admit after seeing the great gatsby peaked my interest of the gold coast masnsions. I have seen the old cold war bases and long closed sanitoriums . i find the extravigant guilded age more facinating to its happier pre depression welthier days. to hear the gosts laughin and having a good time is much better than screams of agony.

  2. Michael says:

    Hi,
    Might you have any information about the ruins at Welwin Preserve? It is just off the side of the Holocaust museum in Glen Cove. I’ve been there a few times. It’s quite haunting in the winter when everything lie dormant and all the greenery is slumbering. Reminiscent of the land of the lost.
    Thank you,
    Michael

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Michael – I am going to send you an email with some information, and where to look for more. Thank you for your interest! Marianne

  3. Muttontown Preserve is an amazing area. I went camping there with my local Boy Scout troop in the 70s, and we’d climb all over the ruins of the mansion. “King Zog” sounded almost too mythical to be true, and it definitely added an aura to the Preserve that made it special. Thanks for your post. Looking forward to more!

    • Marianne Howard says:

      Thank you for your comment Steven. It is so hard to imagine that this kind of lifestyle happened in our own backyards sometimes! I love knowing that Muttontown provided you with such wonderful memories as well. It is definitely a special treasure.

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