6. Hempstead House (Guggenheim Estate)

Photograph Courtesy of The Sands Point Preserve Conservancy

Hempstead House is one of the four mansions that constitutes the Guggenheim Estate, located in Sands Point. Construction of the mansion was started by Howard Gould, son of the railroad tycoon Jay Gould in 1912. Gould built two castle-like buildings, the main house called Hempstead House, and the smaller house known as Castle Gould. The other two mansions are called Mille Fleur and Falaise. Hempstead House is an exemplary 50,000 square-foot, Tudor-style mansion that boasts 40 rooms and an imposing vaulted ceiling that incarnates the opulence and glamor of the roaring 1920s. The walnut-paneled library was emulated from that of the palace of King James I, while the sunken Palm Court once contained 150 species of rare orchids, plants, and potted trees.

Intriguingly, the initial plan called for a castle that would be the replica of Kilkenny Castle in Ireland. However, the Gould was displeased with the design so it was decided that another house would be built as the main living quarters. After the completion of the house, the estate was sold to Daniel Guggenheim, at which point the name of the main house was changed to Hempstead House.

After Guggenheim’s death in 1930, his wife Florence closed off Hempstead House and built a small water-side home, Mille Fleur, for herself–the fourth mansion on the property (the third mansion was Falaise). In 1942, Florence donated 162 acres of the estate to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, who in turn sold it to the U.S Navy and held it until 1967. Afterward, the estate was declared a surplus by the U.S government, and in 1971, the property was given to Nassau County. After Harry Guggenheim’s death, the rest of the estate was also donated, in accordance with his will, to Nassau County.

Today Sands Point Preserve (the non-profit institution that preserves and runs the four mansions of the estate) hosts a plethora of events, from mansion tours and weddings, to even after-school art and yoga classes, and even a Halloween Ball. It has appeared as a location in numerous film and television productions, including the show Gotham.