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A 216-hectare park on Long Island is home to 4 mansions straight out of The Great Gatsby – take a closer look

Hempstead House.Gabbi Shaw/Business Insider

  • Sands Point Preserve is a 216-hectare park in New York.
  • The nature reserve is located on the former Guggenheim estate on the north shore of Long Island.

On the north coast of Long Island in New York State there are numerous mansions from the “Roaring Twenties”.

Sands Point, a village at the tip of the Cow Neck Peninsula, is home to a 530-acre park and nature reserve whose history dates back to 1900, when the land was purchased by Howard Gould, the son of railroad magnate Jay Gould.

Over 100 years later, the four houses built on the property – Castle Gould, Hempstead House, Falaise and Mille Fleurs – are still in pristine condition. Three have been converted into museums and much of the grounds are crisscrossed with walking trails.

I was there in June 2024 to take an informative self-guided tour of two of the houses, and I felt like I was traveling back to the era of West Egg, the neighborhood of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jay Gatsby.

This is what a visit to Sands Point Preserve looks like today.

One June afternoon, I drove to Sands Point, a village on Long Island. Admission to the Sands Point Preserve costs $15 per car and $4 per person.

One June afternoon, I drove to Sands Point, a village on Long Island. Admission to the Sands Point Preserve costs $15 per car and $4 per person.

The entrance to Sands Point. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

This is where Sands Point is located on the map. The other circled locations are other mansions from the same period on Long Island.

Here

Sands Point Nature Preserve. Google Maps

After parking, I was greeted with a map of the nature reserve, showing the locations of the four villas and several hiking trails.

After parking, I was greeted with a map of the nature reserve, showing the locations of the four villas and several hiking trails.

A map of the Sands Point Preserve. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

The first building I saw was the oldest on the property: Castle Gould, completed in 1904.

The first building I saw was the oldest on the property: Castle Gould, completed in 1904.

Castle Gould is huge, especially compared to me. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

The 9,240 square meter Castle Gould is modeled on the medieval Irish castle Kilkenny, the construction of which began in 1192.

The 9,240 square meter Castle Gould is modeled on the medieval Irish castle Kilkenny, the construction of which began in 1192.

The entire exterior of Castle Gould. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

According to the conservation authority, financier Howard Gould commissioned it to please his wife, actress Katherine Clemmons.

According to the conservation authority, financier Howard Gould commissioned it to please his wife, actress Katherine Clemmons.

An entrance to Gould Castle. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

The medieval atmosphere continues inside. This room serves as a lobby – in Gould’s time the entire castle served as a stable and coach house.

The medieval atmosphere continues inside. This room serves as a lobby – in Gould

The foyer of Castle Gould. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Much of Castle Gould is not open to the public, but the Great Hall, pictured here, can be used for private events.

Much of Castle Gould is

The Great Hall inside Castle Gould. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

You may be wondering why Castle Gould was only used as a carriage house. That’s because Gould’s wife Katherine didn’t like the final product.

You may be wondering why Castle Gould was only used as a coach house.

The back of Castle Gould. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Source: Sands Point Preserve

Therefore, in 1912, the family built another mansion directly opposite the lawn.

Therefore, in 1912, the family built another mansion directly opposite the lawn.

The big lawn. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

This house is called Hempstead House. It is smaller, but still measures an incredible 4,600 square meters. It has 40 rooms.

This house is called Hempstead House. It

Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Gould and Clemmons never lived together here. They divorced in 1909 after Gould accused his wife of having an affair with Buffalo Bill Cody.

Gould and Clemmons never lived together here. They divorced in 1909 after Gould accused his wife of having an affair with Buffalo Bill Cody.

The site and landscaping of Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Gould completed the property but sold it in 1917 so he could move abroad.

Gould completed the property but sold it in 1917 so he could move abroad.

The red carpeted entrance to Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

He sold it to Daniel and Florence Guggenheim – yes, those Guggenheims. His brother Benjamin died on the Titanic. Another brother, Solomon, founded the museum of the same name in New York.

He sold it to Daniel and Florence Guggenheim - yes, those Guggenheims. His brother Benjamin died on the Titanic. Another brother, Solomon, founded the museum of the same name in New York.

Daniel Guggenheim, around 1913. HUM Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Tours of Hempstead House are only available on Wednesdays in July and August. I will be back to take a closer look inside.

Hempstead House is available for tours only on Wednesdays in July and August.

A side view of Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

I was able to look at one room through the door and was already impressed by the design.

I was able to look at one room through the door and was already impressed by the design.

A room in Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

However, the rose garden behind Hempstead House is open to all visitors.

However, the rose garden behind Hempstead House is open to all visitors.

The rose garden. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Now, instead of roses, there are dozens of native flowers that facilitate pollination.

Now, instead of roses, there are dozens of native flowers that facilitate pollination.

Some of the plants in the rose garden. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

The house also offers views of Long Island Sound, which can be seen in the distance.

The house also offers views of Long Island Sound, which can be seen in the distance.

Long Island Sound from Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

The third mansion at Sands Point is Falaise, built on 90 acres of land that Daniel gave to his son Harry upon his marriage to Caroline Morton in 1923.

The third mansion at Sands Point is Falaise, built on 90 acres of land that Daniel gave to his son Harry upon his marriage to Caroline Morton in 1923.

Long Island Sound from the cliffs in front of Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Harry had a fascinating life. He was an avid aviator and friends with the legendary pilot Charles Lindbergh. Harry also founded the Long Island newspaper Newsday with his wife in 1940.

Harry had a fascinating life. He was an avid aviator and friends with the legendary pilot Charles Lindbergh. Harry also founded the Long Island newspaper Newsday with his wife in 1940.

Harry Guggenheim and Charles Lindbergh. Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

His house, Falaise, can be visited on private tours offered on weekends from May to October.

His house, Falaise, can be visited on private tours offered on weekends from May to October.

One of the many manicured lawns at Sands Point. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

“Falaise” means cliff side in French, a fitting name for the cliff-side mansion.

A pond at Sands Point. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Daniel and Florence Guggenheim lived in Hempstead House until his death in 1930.

Daniel and Florence Guggenheim lived in Hempstead House until his death in 1930.

Hempstead House. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

After his death, Florence moved into the fourth and smallest property on the estate, Mille Fleurs, French for “1,000 flowers.” It remains private to this day.

After his death, Florence moved into the fourth and smallest mansion on the property, Mille Fleurs, French for

Some of the forests. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

In 1940, during World War II, Florence reopened Hempstead House for refugee children.

In 1940, during World War II, Florence reopened Hempstead House for refugee children.

Daniel and Florence Guggenheim playing golf in 1922. Bettman/Getty Images

Source: Sands Point Preserve

By 1946, 162 acres of the land were donated to the U.S. Navy, which operated the Naval Training Device Center there until 1967.

By 1946, 162 acres of the land were donated to the U.S. Navy, which operated the Naval Training Device Center there until 1967.

Eugene Nickerson, Nassau County Executive, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Bill Moyers, Harry F. Guggenheim and Senator Jacob Javits in 1967. Stan Wolfson/Newsday RM/Getty Images

In 1971, Harry Guggenheim died and left his 90 acres (36 hectares) to Nassau County. That same year, the county purchased the unused Marineland. Together, they reformed the property.

In 1971, Harry Guggenheim died and left his 90 acres (36 hectares) to Nassau County. That same year, the county purchased the unused Marineland. Together, they reformed the property.

Harry Guggenheim at the Guggenheim Museum in 1959. Bettman/Getty Images

Source: Sands Point Preserve

Now you can tour two of the four villas, hike and even go to the beach.

Now you can tour two of the four villas, hike and even go to the beach.

The beach. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

To the west you can see Westchester County in the distance.

To the west you can see Westchester County in the distance.

Westchester. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

To the east: the Long Island town of Glen Cove.

To the east: the Long Island town of Glen Cove.

Glen Cove. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider

Even without the villas, Sands Point Preserve would be a beautiful park. But with them, you feel like you’re back in time with Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties.

Even without the villas, Sands Point Preserve would be a beautiful park. But with them, you can feel like you

It’s also a great place for photography. Gabby Shaw/Business Insider