This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Although Old Westbury Gardens is the former estate of an heir to a U.S. Steel fortune, the stately mansion holds equally as many ties to England. Built in 1906, Old Westbury Gardens was the conception of steel heir John Shaffer Phipps, who designed the estate to resemble his wife’s family home in Sussex, England.
When construction began, John and Margarita were merely engaged and John had promised his British fiancee that he would build her a home that resembled her family estate in Battle Abbey, a historic Benedictine abbey ruin in Sussex. Three years, a wedding and three children later, the estate was ready for John and the family to move in.
Designed by English architect George A. Crawley, Old Westbury Gardens is a Charles II-style mansion nestled among gardens, landscaped grounds, woods and lakes. The 23 room mansion, known as Westbury House, is furnished in antiques and original art from the family’s collection – most famously, the painting “Mrs. Henry Phipps and Her Grandson Winston Guest” by painter John Singer Sargent that hangs in the dining room. The child in the painting was the godson of none other than Winston Churchill.
Old Westbury was converted into a museum in 1959. Along with its extensive art and antique collection, the estate has also played host to Hollywood, serving as the set location for many classic films including Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”, Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence” and the teen drama “Cruel Intentions”. The estate was also the inspiration for the Buchanan mansion in the 2013 adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”.
Today, the estate’s architecture and gardens remain preserved. Visitors can explore the grounds and enjoy museum tours, classic car shows, lectures and horticultural classes.
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