Oheka Castle seen from the east
|Location||135 W. Gate Drive,
Huntington, New York
|Area||23.2 acres (9.4 ha)|
|Architect||Delano & Aldrich; Olmsted Brothers, et al.|
|Architectural style||Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Chateauesque|
|NRHP Reference #||04000996|
|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 investment financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn and his family. The name Oheka is an acronym of its original owner's name Otto Hermann Kahn, which Kahn also used to name his yacht Oheka II and his ocean-front Villa Oheka in Palm Beach, Florida. 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. Oheka Castle is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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.
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. In 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.
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. Ten years later, following a lawsuit, the building passed to one of Yokoi's daughters and her husband. 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.
On February 24, 2014, Melius survived a gunshot to the head by a masked gunman in the parking lot of the castle.
In popular culture
- Film location for the movie Cruel Intentions.
- Oheka served as partial inspiration for Gatsby's estate in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
- In Dream World, his collection of songs, poems and stories, composer and musicologist Roger Lee Hall wrote about his years attending Eastern Military Academy at Oheka Castle in the 1950s.
- In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, photographs of Oheka were used to portray the fictional Xanadu.
- The castle is shown in the 2008 movie What Happens in Vegas, with stars Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.
- It is Boris's mansion "Shadow Pond" on the television show Royal Pains, which has run since 2009.
- R&B singer Brandy's 1995 music video "Brokenhearted", directed by Hype Williams and featuring Wanya Morris, was filmed inside the castle.
- Oheka was the set of the fictional Avalon Castle in the 2010 soap opera As the World Turns.
- It was also shown in the 2010 film It's Kind of a Funny Story.
- It was the location of a charity event in the television show Louie, where Jerry Seinfield and Louis C.K. performed for the event.
- The castle was featured in the music video for Taylor Swift's 2014 song "Blank Space".
- The castle was also used in the music video "Cookie" by recording artist R. Kelly.
- The castle appeared briefly as the location of an economic summit in Season 1, Episode 19 of Madam Secretary (TV series).
- Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Oheka Castle, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
- 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".
- Pacelle, Mitchell. Empire: A Tale of Obsession, Betrayal, and the Battle for an American Icon 2002, ISBN 978-0-471-23865-2, p.57.
- Empire, p.269.
- Tagliaferro, Linda (2003-11-16). "Feeling Romantic? Feeling Rich, Too?". 2003-11-16 (New York Times). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Santora, Marc; Baker, Al (February 24, 2014). "Developer Is Shot in the Head Outside His Long Island Castle". The New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved February 24, 2014. This article appeared in print on February 25, 2014.
- Bruccoli, Matthew (2000). F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: A Literary Reference. Carroll & Graf Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 0-7867-0996-0.
- Roger Lee Hall (official website)
- Levin, Eric. "The Open Island", Travel + Leisure, May 2002
- "'Citizen Kane' Site Changing Hands" The New York Times (February 19, 1989, corrected April 6, 1989)
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