The Monastery, also known as Ferguson’s Castle, located in Huntington Bay, was one of Long Island’s Gold Coast’s most impressive estates. Today all that remains is a wall too massive to tear down, a gatehouse, some ruins, some memories, and perhaps the ghost of the woman who built it.
Posts Tagged ‘Gold Coast of Long Island’
Posted in long island's gold coast, tagged A Christmas Carol, Chelsea Manor, East Norwich, Ghost Stories, Gold Coast of Long Island, Muttontown Preserve, Oyster Bay, snow scenes, winter landscapes on December 23, 2008| Leave a Comment »
Chelsea Manor, in the Muttontown Preserve in East Norwich, New York, was built by Benjamin Moore and his wife Alexandra. Moore was the great, great grandson of the author of the Night Before Christmas, also known as “a Visit From Saint Nicholas,” Clement Clarke Moore. It’s also a great place to sit in the snow and tell Christmas ghost stories. Go to A Gothic Cabinet of Curiosities and Mysteries to read the article
The Memorial Cemetery of St. John’s Church, designed by the Olmstead Brothers, who designed the gardens at Planting Fields Arboretum, Oheka Castle and many other Gold Coast Estates – a lovely place to spend an afternoon or an eternity.
The history of Castlegould and the Hempstead House in Sands Point, New York. Discover the story behind the construction and life of two of Long Island’s most incredible buildings, view photos of the gothic architecture, and relive the sex and scandal worthy of Jay Gatsby and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Go to A Gothic Cabinet of Curiosities and Mysteries to read the article
Rosemary Amphitheater, Rosemary Farm, Huntington, New York
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“A poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Across this bridge, some of the greatest performers of their generation walked – Sarah Bernhardt, John and Ethel Barrymore, Tyrone Powers, Helen Hayes and the entire 300 piece John Phillips Sousa Orchestra. The moat was once filled with water, and hidden in the moat were jets which would send water cascading up sixteen feet in the air, hiding the island that served as the stage from the rest of the 4,000 seat amphitheater between scenes. The moat was fed by a waterfall to the side of the stage, and the view was beautiful, not only of the stage, but of Long Island Sound further down the hill.
This wasn’t a theater built by a city, a corporation or as a business, it was a labor of love, built by a man for his wife, at the bottom of the hill from their house. It was built by patrons of the arts for their community and for the artists.
Today the stage is silent, shadows fall and like the rest of the amphitheater, overgrown with vegetation, grown taller than a person. The statues are gone, much of the stone which was used to build it is fallen from it’s original form, now just rubble. But the feeling is still there, when the brightest stars to be seen were on the ground and not in the sky.
Glen Cove, New York
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Winfield Hall is the quintessential haunted house. From rumors of the black arts being practiced there, to suicides, to the ghost of a young lady, this Glen Cove mansion seems designed to chill the blood.
F.W. Woolworth built Winfield in 1916, designed by architect Charles P.H. Gilbert, at an estimated cost of $9,000,000. The 56 room Italian Renaissance marble home contains a staircase which was $2,000,000 to build at the time, and boasted a chandelier made of blue and 15-karat gold leaf. The whole house is outfitted in a manor fit for royalty, mahogany, bronze, sterling silver. Woolworth’s bed was supposed to have originally belonged to Napoleon. Honeycombing the house is a network of secret passages, hidden chambers and deserted tunnels.
Yet two years after completion, Woolworth was dead, from not seeking proper dental care. Woolworth’s wife it was said was dotty and never left her room. One of his three daughters took her own life as his father gave a party downstairs. It’s said a bolt of lightning caused the mantle of the room the party was in to crack that very night.
Later the house was used as a school, and it was in the Marie Antoinette room, which is always kept locked, that there were at least thirty account of people who heard a woman crying in that room. It is rumored that this is the room which his daughter took her life after her father denied her request to be married. Others claimed to have seen a woman in a faded blue dress, walking in the garden.
Compiled from The Mansions of Long Island’s Gold Coast, by Monica Randall
Huntington Bay, New York
Ferguson Castle was built like a medieval castle, with heavy walls some three feet thick, and details straight from the Mediterranean. The house was built in 1908 for Mrs. Juliana Armour Ferguson, the mother of seven children who used to push the furniture against the walls and used the great hall for a roller skating rink. In 1916, the house was used for the original silent version of Romeo and Juliet. A litany of furnishing proves breathtaking; a sixteenth century chariot made for the Emporer Maximilian of carved ivory and rubies, two seventeenth century marble lions from Verona, art treasures, some as old as the twelfth century decorating the walls, a fountain made of ancient Persian tiles, a fifteenth century French Gothic plaque with the Madonna and Child, as well as a piece of Egyptian era art. The house had forty rooms, six baths, fourteen fireplaces, a chapel, a servant’s room and a gatehouse. The Great Hall measured 64 feet long, 47 feet wide and three stories tall.
Perhaps the strangest though, Mrs. Ferguson collected the gravestones of children from all over Europe, all under five years old at the time of their death, all three hundred years old, then installed in the floors, halls, entranceways and gardens of the house.
She died in 1921 and the house went through several owners, before being purchased by Suffolk County in 1964. In 1970, the house was pulled down. Rumors of the house being haunted and a hefty back taxes bill made it impossible to sell. Today all that is left is the foundations and lower entrance, as well as the gatehouse.
In her book, The Ghosts of Long Island, Kerriann Flanagan Brosky relates that Mrs. Ferguson never really left the house, also known as The Monastery. By all accounts, Mrs. Ferguson lived for her children. There was a room in the house with a long, medieval table, which was kept furnished at all time with food and treats for her children, attended to by two Japanese servants, for whom that was their only job.
Her husband had died before they moved in the castle. By the beginning of World War I, things had changed. By then, all the children were grown and had moved away. Then one child died of influenza. Four days later another died in the trenches of the war. Another divorced under hints of scandals which ruined the family name. She couldn’t accept the death of her son, and had a wax dummy made in his likeness. Each night she would dine with him then at the long table which once held the bounty for children.
Following her death, she was still to be seen, coming down the stairs each night in her long, flowing white gown to dine with her dead son. While the house was in the process of being torn down, many people driving by at night saw a figure in white, floating among the ruins.
From The Mansions of Long Islands Gold Coast, by Monica Randall