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Fitzgerald's Gatsby house is doomed

Fitzgerald_zeldascottie The house that some say inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write "The Great Gatsby" is doomed. It's slated to be razed and its property parceled up into new developments.

The once-grand home called Lands End has fallen into disrepair. But back in the day, the 25-room, 20,000-square-foot Colonial Revival mansion was home to parties attended by Winston Churchill, the Marx brothers, Dorothy Parker and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. According to local lore, Fitzgerald drank there too, Newsday reports.

The home was built in 1902 and came to be owned by journalist Herbert Bayard Swope, one of the first recipients of the Pulitzer Prize and editor of the New York World. It was Swope's parties that Fitzgerald was said to have attended. The history of the house -- and its legendary influence on Fitzgerald -- was reported by Forbes when the house was for sale in 2005.

Located on 13 acres in Sands Point, N.Y.,  on Long Island Sound, the property has a private beach, a grand pool and wide patio (where, according to legend, Fitzgerald was spotted.) In January, Sands Point Village approved plans to raze the house and divide the property into lots for five custom homes, to be sold for $10 million each.

When the house was sold in the mid-2000s, it still had, according to the New York Times, "banana-yellow laminate countertops in the kitchen... neon flower-power 1970's-style carpeting in some of the bedrooms" and other design offenses that called for a full renovation.

Seems to me that an inspired eye could make that work -- although it would have to be an inspired eye with deep pockets -- upkeep was said to be $5,000 a day.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: F. Scott Fitzgerald with his wife, Zelda, and daughter, Scottie, in their Paris apartment in 1925, the year "The Great Gatsby" was published. Credit: Associated Press

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Tragic that something so important to American letters could not have been rescued.

disgusting, i guess beverly hills is not exclusive in destroying historic homes for yet more junk to be put up. why not a strip mall? if its all about getting the most money . . .

For you that feel it is a loss or tragic event to have this house (which may or may not be the "Gatsby" house) be torn down, am sure it's not to late to write out a check to the owner and save it. Step up to the plate and make your mark!!

This tear-down mentality has been going on on Long Island for quite awhile. High taxes and valuable land are the primary reasons. The island used to be very beautiful. Streams, ponds, trees galore, Vanderbilt Parkway, etc., etc. Now it's just an extension of Queens and the ever-growing city blight. I know because I lived there for many years - my family goes back over three hundred years on Long Island. It's sad to see the mini-malls, Beverly Hills lot-line house mentality and massive apartment complexes take hold. Progress NOT.

There is absolutely no evidence that Fitzgerald knew of, or ever attended a party at, this house. The Forbes article of 2005 was a thinly veiled attempt to hype the value of the property when it was on the market.

Also, the Sands Point Village approved plans to raze the house and divide the property into lots for five custom homes, to be sold for $10 million each, is hardly a strip-mall mentality.

To the dreamers who want to save all vestiges of the evidence of the American greed and decadence of the robber barons of the last century, I say fine - raise the money and buy the property.

What a horrible, horrible thing to happen to a beautiful historic site. It probably could have been lovingly restored to its original glory. Billionaire land developers win again. Is anyone really surprised?

Typically - though not always - in Europe these types of properties would be turned into say, a private convalescent hosp, a home for autistic/disabled youth... or even a hotel.

At least we will have The Great Gatsby to remember what we are loosing in the name of so-called progress. And to think that there isn't even a museum in St. Paul, MN dedicated to Fitzgerald's life and works... truly sad.

Curious- I grew up in Great Neck, which is where Fitzgerald lived, and we were always led to believe that the Gatsby house was in Kings Point (on the water in Great Neck). The street that leads up to the Great Neck Gatsby house is called "Gatsby Lane"- which used to run across the whole property until sections of it were sold off and built on. It is right on the water, directly across from Sands Point. I had been to that house growing up and must say that it fit the description of the book (rumor had it there was an actual elevator in the house).

Great Neck = West Egg (where Gatsby.. and the character Nick lived in the Book)
Sands Point = East Egg, across the water from Gatsby's house.

Could there be two Gatsby houses?

Perhaps fitting: that green light beckoning from the dock is towards an existence perhaps beyond our reach as a people - rather than a monument to social literature, the site will belong to a cloister of multi-millionaires.

Two things:
1. Remember Ozymandias! Nothing stands the test of time.
2. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Oprah or Donald Trump should buy it.

I took what I believe are the last interior photos of this house. I've walked the beach past that house my entire life, and seeing it falling apart and abandoned - I went in to shoot this summer. The photos are here: http://www.jenrossphoto.com/#Portfolio/Spaces/East%20Egg/1

More on my blog. Hope you enjoy. RIP LANDS END :(

The place could send even Trump to the poorhouse - it's in pretty bad shape.

Then there's the annual maintenance @ $1.8M, if the $5K/day figure in the article is accurate...

Long Island used to be a nice place when it was populated by rich, White people. How might one even feel comfortable on less than 13 acres these days?.

I come from Oyster Bay, close to where the Sand's Point mansion is, and the last thing the area needs is another bunch of McMansions for the local wiseguys' bosses (who are the only people, aside from ambassadors at the UN who can afford those places.) It's a shame but it was crumbling to pieces in the 70's when they slapped some laminate on a counter and called it 'renovation'. Tear it down and put up a park. God knows they need a few in Glen Cove!

This is an Architectural tragedy of epic proportion! I am so angry that this nation which spends trillions of dollars on stupid things cannot save one of its own. Once again, I witness someone buying a piece of property and then indicating that the taxes were too much and therefore must destry that which is there in order to financiall come out on the deal. This is so moral wrong. What's next Hearst Castle????????

I love this article and the Newsday article it's derived from: "'Gatsby' place joins doomed mansions list."

So professional!

If one wants to tear down and subdivide a big, beautiful, history-and-literature soaked place to which a lot of people are pretty obviously going to have a lot of emotional attachment, this is the way to go.

First, one buys it with an expressed "intent to live there," not with an intent to destroy it.

Then one "discovers" that one's "family objects," or some other vague but compelling reason why one can't "live there," as if one can't talk to one's family about the new house one is buying for $17 Million before one moves in.

Then one allows the place to completely disintegrate physically, even to the point of the front door falling off a $30 Million house.

Then one tearfully applies for the demolition permit, pleading that keeping the place up is "just too expensive" ... where, of course, that cost was completely obvious from the day one bought it in the first place.

Then one subdivides the land one bought for $17 Million into five $10 Million lots ... crying tearfully all the way to the bank with the $33 Million profit. Boo-hoo!

So professional! Meyer Wolfsheim would be proud! If only the Adler company had hired these East Egg guys to manage the destruction and redevelopment of the Derby property in Los Feliz they wouldn't be stuck with that stupid "historical monument" designation and the lease to Chase bank!

How tragic to lose a home so rich in history. The McMansions will be inhabited by those whom Fitzgerald wrote of in "The Great Gatsby."

Destroy it for what? Modern era ugly crap with no soul? Get your New York wealthy social/literary elites to raise funds to save the house. It is disgusting that once beautiful works of architecture like this are being destroyed becaus eit's easier or cheaper to make some new eyesore.

This is so sad.Why is it we are always tearing down a part of History?They will build new homes for 10 million each.I realize that the property taxes are so high.But there was'nt a way to save it.Its to bad that the man that owns it.Maybe could have turned it into a mususam and a fee to tour the Home.I donot know the laws in New York.But if the state could have owned it.Here in California owns Hearst Castle.But Hearst Castle was left to California for this reason.When the man first bought the home to bad it could have done something withit then.This is so sad.

Thank you, Jen Ross, for the magnificent slide show of your breathtaking photography, although it made me even sadder seeing what will be destroyed.

Jen Ross, those photos are terrific. It really is a shame. I can't imagine that one day somebody said, lock the door, we aren't coming back.

Thank you so much Jen Ross for the gorgeous photos. Such a shame this mansion couldn't be saved, it would make a magnificent museum.

Anyone for another chorus of "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"?

What else do you suppose the future holds for us? Versailles razed for a condo complex?

@michelle, I'm thinking the Sands Point house is the one where the Buchanans "lived," while Gatsby's own house is the one in Great Neck. Since they're both from the book, I suppose you could technically call them both "Gatsby houses."

Anyone else have any insight into this?

@Doug and Michelle - Yes, I might have some insight into this: Land's End is said to have been the house that served as inspiration for Tom and Daisy's house. Gatsby Ln. in Great Neck is home to the physical location (across the sound) where Jay Gatsby's house would have been. It is also said that the old Belmont Mansion also in Sands Point (that was torn down decades ago when it was still rather new) served as the inspiration for the actual description of Gatsby's house (there are also photos of the original gate (the double B's in wrought iron) in my gallery - the first photo of what is left of the Belmont place (just the gate and gatehouse) as it is today is here http://www.jenrossphoto.com/#Portfolio/Spaces/East%20Egg/30

- the mansion was on the right from that view and there is a very cool old image of it floating around on the web.
It is rumored that Fitzgerald was seen on the porch at Lands End and wrote some of Gatsby there - using elements in the area to inspire the places in the book.
Here is a quote that might go with the image I linked you to and the 7 of the Belmont place that follow it: "The house on my right was a colossal affair by any standard—it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. it was Gatsby’s mansion. Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires—all for eighty dollars a month … There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

I am really sad that one of our billionaires cannot keep this place running. It is so sad when a piece of history is destroyed. You would not see that happen in Europe! Why do we not treasure our architecture??

How very sad to see this go. Of all the books I read in High School, The Great Gatsby was my favorite. Sad that no one will buy it and restore it. I wish I had the money to do something like that!


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