8. William Kissam Vanderbilt House: Eagle’s Nest-Vanderbilt Museum

Currently a museum, planetarium, education facility, and wedding venue, Eagle’s Nest was the sumptuous Long Island mansion of William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the son of Alva Vanderbilt. William K. Vanderbilt was an automobile and yachting enthusiast. He founded and competed in the Vanderbilt Cup, located on Long Island. In order to improve crowd control and accessibility to the races,  Vanderbilt formed a company that would build the Long Island Motor Parkway (also known as the Vanderbilt Parkway) – which also induced economic development on Long Island. Afterward, William K. Vanderbilt began construction on “Eagle’s Nest” at Centerport, Long Island in 1910. 

Raised in the Gilded Age mansions of his family, it is not surprising that he wanted his own estate to show off. The Gold Coast mansion started off as a modest, two-story building, but was transformed into an opulent mansion complex in a Spanish Revival style rare in the region. The first expansion commenced after he received his inheritance of $21 million after his father’s death in 1921. The second expansion came after the death of his son in 1933 in an automobile accident.

William Kissam Vanderbilt bequeathed the estate to be donated to the county and used as a museum to house his marine, natural history, and ethnographic collection. In 1970 a planetarium was also constructed on the grounds.

Today, the Vanderbilt Museum serves as a mansion, museum, and planetarium. The venue can be rented for wedding and birthday events, while numerous school tours visit the planetarium and other exhibits. The mansion itself can be toured, allowing visitors to gain an intimate look inside an estate from Long Island’s Golden Coast.