Escape to the Island: Old Westbury Gardens

Escape to the Island: Old Westbury Gardens

Although we have hit the end of summer and are now starting the autumn season, there are still plenty of things for New Yorkers to do and excursions from the city to take along the long stretch of land that begins on the eastern end of Manhattan, known as Long Island.

From the manicured gardens of elegant Gold Coast mansions to the pristine shores of the Hamptons, Long Island is a quick retreat from the constant commotion of New York City. Amongst the beautiful sights to see is Old Westbury Gardens. Nestled in the heart of Long Island’s prominent North Shore, the mansion and gardens are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and date back to the early 20th century. The majestic estate is the former home of the Phipps family, the English-American heirs to the United States Steel Corporation fortune. The mansion, commonly known as the Westbury House, gracefully sits upon 160 spacious acres of magnificent gardens, tree-lined paths, and charming lakes. This stately Long Island treasure was built by American banker John S. Phipps in 1905. The financier built the estate for his English-born wife, Margarita Grace. Phipps designed the estate and gardens in a traditional English Restoration style, reminiscent of the grand homes built during the reigns of King Charles I and Charles II of England in the 16th century. The architectural designs for the Westbury House were also influenced by Margarita’s family home, Battle Abbey, in East Sussex, England.

Old Westbury Gardens is located approximately 25 miles east of Manhattan and is easily accessible by car. This North Shore landmark was opened to the public in 1959 by the Phipps’ daughter, Margaret Phipps Boegner. The house and gardens were featured in many Hollywood movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest (1959) starring Cary Grant, Love Story (1970) featuring Ryan O’Neal, and Cruel Intentions (1999) starring Ryan Philippe and Reese Witherspoon, amongst other numerous films. The historic mansion’s extensive grounds allow for various public events throughout the year, from yoga classes on the manicured lawns to nature walks and vintage car shows.