Oheka Castle

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Oheka Castle
Oheka Castle 0818b crop.jpg
Oheka Castle seen from the east
Oheka Castle is located in New York
Oheka Castle
Location 135 W. Gate Drive,
Huntington, New York
Coordinates: 40°49′40″N 73°26′55″W / 40.82778°N 73.44861°W / 40.82778; -73.44861
Area 23.2 acres (9.4 ha)
Built 1914-19
Architect Delano & Aldrich; Olmsted Brothers, et al.
Architectural style Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Chateauesque
Governing body private
NRHP Reference # 04000996[1]
Added to NRHP September 15, 2004

Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, is located on the North Shore of Long Island, in Huntington, New York. It was the country home of financier and philanthropist Otto Kahn. The name Oheka is derived from Otto Hermann Kahn, and Kahn also used it for his yacht Oheka II. The mansion was built by Kahn between 1914 and 1919, and is the second largest private home in the United States, comprising 127 rooms and over 109,000 square feet (10,100 m2), as originally configured.

The castle is currently a historic hotel with 32 guest rooms and suites on the upper floors of the mansion, a popular wedding venue for socialites, celebrities, and dignitaries, and the backdrop to many photo shoots and Hollywood films. The estate also offers tours of the estate and gardens.

In 2004, Oheka was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [1] Oheka Castle is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[2]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

In 1905, a previous country home of Kahn's, Cedar Court in Morristown, New Jersey, was virtually destroyed by fire. In constructing Oheka, Kahn determined to build a fireproof building, so he had his architects, Delano and Aldrich, design the building out of steel and concrete, making it one of the first totally fireproof residential buildings. In constructing the home, two entire years were spent building an artificial hill on which to place it, giving it views of Cold Spring Hills and Cold Spring Harbor.[3]

Aerial view of the castle and its gardens (1911)

Kahn commissioned the Olmsted Brothers to design the estate's grounds, centered on a formal axial sunken garden in the French manner, of clipped greens and gravel in parterres and water terraces, screened by high clipped hedging from the entrance drive that ran parallel to the main axis. Other features of the 443-acre (1.79 km2) complex included an 18-hole golf course designed by golf architect Seth Raynor, one of the largest private greenhouse complexes in America, tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, a landing strip, orchards, and stables.

Several years after Kahn's death in 1934, the estate was sold. After the sale, it was used for several purposes, including as a retreat for New York City sanitation workers. In 1948, Eastern Military Academy purchased the castle and 23 acres (93,000 m2) of its property, bulldozed the gardens and subdivided the rooms. The school occupied the house until it closed in 1979. For the next four years, the building remained empty, during which time over 100 documented arson attempts occurred, all of which the building survived, demonstrating Kahn's success in building a fireproof building. As of 1946, the golf course and stables became part of the Cold Spring Country Club, and the greenhouse complex operated as Otto Keil Florist. Much of the remainder of the property was developed into single-family homes.

Gardens of Oheka Castle

Restoration[edit]

In 1984, Oheka was purchased by Gary Melius, a Long Island developer. Melius undertook the largest private residential renovation project in the United States to restore the house, which was in a state of almost total disrepair, and recreate the gardens from the original Olmsted plans. In 1988, unable to continue financing the massive project, Melius sold the property to Hideki Yokoi for $22.5 million.[4] Ten years later, following a lawsuit, the building passed to one of Yokoi's daughters and her husband.[5] They were unable to sustain the property themselves, so Melius reacquired it under a long-term lease and later re-purchased the estate, operating it as a weddings and events venue, luxury hotel, and conference center.[6]

Later history[edit]

Celebrities who have been married there include Kevin Jonas, Megyn Kelly, Joey Fatone and former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner.[citation needed]

On February 24, 2014, Gary Melius was shot in the head by a masked gunman in the parking lot of the castle.[7]

In popular culture[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ Oheka Castle, a Historic Hotels of America member. Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ Warren, James (September 2002). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Oheka". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-02-20.  See also: "Accompanying 12 photos". 
  4. ^ Pacelle, Mitchell. Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon 2002, ISBN 978-0-471-23865-2, p.57.
  5. ^ Empire, p.269.
  6. ^ Tagliaferro, Linda (2003-11-16). "Feeling Romantic? Feeling Rich, Too?". 2003-11-16 (New York Times). Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Santora, Marc; Baker, Al (February 24, 2014 (February 25, 2014 in print)). "Developer Is Shot in the Head Outside His Long Island Castle". The New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ Bruccoli, Matthew (2000). F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: A Literary Reference. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 0-7867-0996-0. 
  9. ^ Levin, Eric. "The Open Island", Travel + Leisure, May 2002
  10. ^ "'Citizen Kane' Site Changing Hands" The New York Times (February 19, 1989, corrected April 6, 1989)

External links[edit]