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Gilded Age Mansions Draw Real Estate Buyers to Long Island’s Gold Coast


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As the name would imply, Long Island’s Gold Coast has long been a favorite escape for New York City’s rich and powerful. Sands Point, one of the North Shore’s marquee neighborhoods, was the inspiration for the old-money East Egg in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, while Kings Point was the basis for West Egg. And the area still has the grand old mansions and estates to prove it.

Wealth along the Gold Coast first exploded during the Gilded Age of the early 20th century, and mansions that once belonged to prominent families such as the Guggenheims and the Vanderbilts are still standing to this day.

“There’s still a smattering of beautiful late 19th and early 20th century estates,” says Maggie Keats, a broker with Douglas Elliman on Long Island. “It’s what gives the communities texture and character. The architecture is beautiful.”

While the Gold Coast’s sprawling compounds had fallen out of vogue for high-end clients in recent decades — overshadowed by other spots like the Hamptons, Connecticut’s Litchfield County and Hudson, New York — a number of wealthy buyers have flocked to the North Shore since the start of the pandemic. The attraction? It offers a coveted combination of privacy, extensive acreage and a quicker commute to and from the city than other second-home destinations.

“The area woke up after the pandemic,” says Keats. “The Gold Coast has so much to offer, not only because it has beautiful neighborhoods and incredible estates, but you’re also perfectly perched: You can easily get into the city a few days a week if you need to; you can also go out to the Hamptons.”

Waterfront neighborhoods including Great Neck, Port Washington and Manhasset are in especially high demand, and overall, suburban Long Island (outside of the Hamptons) saw a 400 percent increase in home sales priced at or above $10 million in 2021, according to Compass.

Keats is listing an eight-bedroom mansion on nearly four acres in Old Westbury that’s priced at $8 million and includes a tennis court and a 1,000-bottle-capacity wine cellar. In December, entrepreneur Michael Walrath, an owner of the Surf Lodge in Montauk, listed his five-bedroom 1925 Colonial residence on seven acres in Matinecock for $12 million with Lindsay Barnett of Compass. “There’s a renewed interest in property with privacy and country club-like amenities,” says Keats. “People want a really full and luxurious experience at home with a pool, tennis court — I’m even seeing things like a par-3 golf hole with sand traps. [Buyers want] the experience where it’s the best of a five-star resort and a country club all wrapped into one.”

This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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