The B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library Homepage


November 22, 1999 - January 21, 2000

Gardens at the 
main mansion at C.W. Post

The B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library of Long Island University's C.W. Post Campus celebrates the Centennial of Nassau County, Long Island, with this exhibit which portrays some of the opulent mansions on the Gold Coast that have been transformed into educational institutions.

This year marks the Centennial of Nassau County (1889-1999). In 1898, when New York City consolidated into five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the western portion of Queens, the eastern portion of Queens, including the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay, fought incorporation with New York City. Thus on April 27, 1898 Governor Black signed a bill which formed Nassau County effective January 1, 1899.

As of today Nassau continues to be a suburban dream. It is proximate to New York City and thus offers its residents the best of both worlds - city and country. According to historian Jon C. Teaford, "The continuing sense of being outside the city and offering a better alternative to the city has defined much of Nassau's history."

This centennial exhibit "Long Island Gold Coast: From Pen to Reel to Classroom" looks at some opulent mansions on the North Shore of Long Island (Gold Coast), which stretches from Great Neck to Huntington. These mansions have been captured in literature and on the silver screen, and some have been transformed into educational institutions. Some of these mansions are on C.W. Post Campus including:

C.W. Post Administration Building

The 70 room Hillwood home of Edward F. and Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton, which is now the C.W. Post administration building

The Philip Gossler residence bought by Edward for his own use after the Huttons' divorce, which is now the Fine Arts building

Fine Arts Building
Lorber Hall

And Mariemont owned by Edward's brother W.E. Hutton, which is now Lorber Hall and contains the School of Accountancy.

Gold Coast Long Island's mansions were modeled after the English manor house. Here America's powerful financial and industrial tycoons built about a thousand estates in which they indulged in every fancy. They were indeed pleasure palaces and playgrounds. These sprawling mansions had between 50 and 100 rooms and hundreds of acres, sometimes as much as 1000 acres, of land. Prof. Rita Nurkin in her article, Yesterday's Mansions, Today's Gold Coast (Added Entries, Spring 1991), describes the opulence of these estates:

"These estates included such niceties as formal gardens and orchards, bridle paths and hunting fields, golf courses and grazing pastures, gambling casinos and theatres, marinas and stables, servant's cottages and guest houses, and both indoor and outdoor tennis courts and swimming pools. Architectural styles ran the gamut: English Tudor, French Chateau, Georgian, Gothic, Norman, Roman, Mediterranean, Spanish, or any combination thereof. European castles were bought, dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic stone by stone, and reconstructed in new world settings. One gentleman even purchased the cobblestones from a Parisian street to be used as the courtyard of his estate."

The Dollhouse
More gardens at C.W. 
Stecklow Gardens at C.W. Post

In time the upkeep of these mansions became impossible and a number of them were destroyed. Only about 200 of these mansions have now survived. Some are private homes without the extensive acreage; others are state and county owned estates, educational and religious institutions, museums and country clubs.

Nostalgically, as we now look back a hundred years into Nassau County's history, we realize that the splendid treasures of the North Shore of Long Island included not just the Who's Who of high society, such as the Vanderbilts, Astors and Guggenheims, but also eminent poets such as Walt Whitman, William Cullen Bryant, the first published African American poet, Jupiter Hammon, and more. These estates also provided elegant and scenic settings for several noteworthy movies, such as Love Story, Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and North by Northwest (see more).

Today, celebrating the centennial of Nassau County, we are pleased that this legacy continues - the North Shore is home to several contemporary poets, including Prof. Norbert Krapf, Director of the Poetry Center at C.W. Post Campus. Prof. Krapf has published two books of Long Island poems. Movies like the 1995 remake of Sabrina continue to use these mansions for elegant settings. Others, as The Great Gatsby, picture those fabled, halcyon days of the Gold Coast. Merging the fabulous and the functional, educational institutions take pride and continue to offer classes in these picturesque and historic settings, such as C.W. Post Campus, SUNY at Old Westbury, and New York Institute of Technology.

The exhibit has on display resources from this library, including materials from the Special Collections Department of the library, and some pictures from the New York Public Library. The exhibit committee would like to thank talented artist, Aehyun Jeong for her banner and artwork; Prof. Emily Lehrman, and Prof. Rita Nurkin for their earlier research on this topic, which was published in Added Entries, Spring 1991, and Fall 1992; Prof. Conrad Schoeffling for collaborating on this exhibit; and colleagues in the library for their support.

Also from the Special Collections Department of the Library:

From Long Island: Our Story:

For Further Reading:

AIA architectural guide to Nassau and Suffolk counties, Long Island / American Institute of Architects, Long Island Chapter and the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. New York : Dover, 1992. C.W. Post NA730.N42 N372 1992

Beaux Arch '89 : an exposition of recent architecture on Long Island / Alastair Gordon, editor. Sag Harbor, NY : Hampton Day School, c1989. Southampton NA730.N42 L6621 1989x

Beaux-arts estates : a guide to the architecture of Long Island / Liisa and Donald Sclare. New York : Viking Press, 1980, c1979. C.W. Post RareBook NA730.N42 L667 1980 OVSZ

BeauxArch II: houses by the sea. Bridgehampton, NY : The Hampton Day School, 1984. Southampton NA7127 .B42

A book to walk with, historic Roslyn / Cynara Genovese, Ellen Fletcher Rosebrock, Carol David York ; the Greater Roslyn American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Roslyn, NY : Roslyn Savings Bank, 1975. C.W. Post F129.R86 G46 1975x

Discovering Long Island / by William Oliver Stevens; illustrated by the author. New York : Dodd, Mead and Company, 1939. C.W. Post F127.L8 S85

Expanding the American dream : building and rebuilding Levittown / Barbara M. Kelly ; with a foreword by Willliam R. Taylor. Albany : State University of New York Press, 1993. Brooklyn NA7571 .K44 1993

The Hamptons : Long Island's east end / photographs by Ken Miller ; introduction by George Plimpton. New York : Rizzoli, 1993. C.W. Post F127.S9 M55 1993 OVSZ

The heritage of Long Island / Woodcuts and text by W. Oakley Cagney ; edited with an introduction by Joan D. Berbrich. Port Washington, NY : I. J. Friedman Division, Kennikat Press, 1970. C.W. Post F127.L8 C27

Historic preservation in Queens / Jeffrey A. Kroessler and Nina S. Rappaport ; with additional research by Eleanor Edelman, Sophia Duckworth Schacter, and Barry Lewis. Sunnyside, NY : Queensborough Preservation League, 1990. Brooklyn NA108.N5 K75 1990x

Historical Long Island; paintings and sketches / Cyril A. Lewis ; text by Charles J. McDermott, assisted by Jayne Coles. Westhampton Beach, NY : Long Island Forum, 1964. C.W. Post ND1839.L44 M3 OVSZ

Historical miscellanies relating to Long Island / Charles J. Werner. Huntington, L.I. [private printing] ; New York, Tobias A. Wright Press, 1917. C.W. Post F127.L8 W49

Houses of Southold : the first 350 years / conceived and produced by the Landmark Preservation Commission ; illustrations, Joy Bear ; text, Nicholas Langhart ; research, William Peters ; editing, Ralph O. Williams ; chairman, John A. Stack. Southold, NY : Town of Southold, 1990. C.W. Post NA7238.S62 L36 1990

The houses of the Hamptons / Paul Goldberger ; edited by Peter Arnell and Ted Bickford. New York : Knopf, 1986. C.W. Post NA7235.N72 H354 1986 OVSZ

Long Island architecture / edited by Joann P. Krieg. Interlaken, NY : Heart of the Lakes Pub., 1991. C.W. Post NA730.N42 L665 1991

Long Island country houses and their architects, 1860-1940 / edited by Robert B. Mackay, Anthony K. Baker, and Carol A. Traynor ; foreword by Brendan Gill. New York : Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in association with, W.W. Norton and Co., 1997. C.W. Post NA7561 .L665 1997 OVSZ

Long Island landmarks / New York (State). Office of Planning Coordination. Metropolitan New York District Office ; Edward J. Smits, consultant. Albany : New York State Office of Planning Coordination, 1969. C.W. Post F127.L8 A5

Manor houses and historic homes of Long Island and Staten Island / Harold Donaldson Eberlein. Port Washington, NY : I.J. Friedman, 1966, c1928. C.W. Post F127.L8 E2 1966

Mansions, mills, and main streets / Carole Rifkind and Carol Levine. New York : Schocken Books, 1975. C.W. Post Reference F128.7 .R53

The mansions of Long Island's gold coast / by Monica Randall. New York : Rizzoli, 1987. C.W. Post F127.L8 R23 1987

The mansions of Long Island's gold coast / by Monica Randall. New York : Hastings House Publishers, c1979. C.W. Post F127.L8 R23 1979

Sagamore Hill : home of Theodore Roosevelt : Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Oyster Bay, New York / Marie L. Carden with Richard C. Crisson. Boston, MA : United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. North Atlantic Region. Cultural Resources Center. Building Conservation Branch, 1997. C.W. Post Government Information I 29.88:SA 1

Sagamore Hill : Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Oyster Bay, New York / David H. Wallace. Harpers Ferry, WV : United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. Harpers Ferry Center. 1990. C.W. Post Government Information I 29.88/2-2:Sa 1/v.1-

The story of Sycamore Lodge, Roslyn Harbor, Long Island, / Catherine B. Fahnestock. Port Washington, NY : Port Printing Service, 1964. C.W. Post F129.R86 F3

Up and down Main Street; an informal history of East Hampton and its old houses / Jeannette Edwards Rattray. East Hampton, NY : East Hampton Star, 1968. C.W. Post F129.E13 R34 OVSZ

Exhibit Committee:
Prof. Manju Prasad-Rao, Coordinator
Prof. Dona McDermott
Prof. Elizabeth Mezick
Aehyun Jeong, Artist

Return to the Library Home Page

Design, Bibliography, and
HTML by Robert Delaney

     Return to Long Island University Home Page                        
                Return to  C.W. Post Campus Home Page