As the tour docent at the famed Oheka Castle, I meet Long Islanders from all over our island. Many of them visit Oheka for the first time, even though they have lived here for years! As I reveal the unique history of this one time "Gatsby" party estate every day, I am amazed at how so many people have never heard of one of the wealthiest New Yorkers, Otto Herman Kahn (O -he- ka).
The estate was built in 1919 for 11 million dollars as a summer home and weekend retreat. And what a retreat it was! With 443 acres of sprawling equestrian trails and woodland, an 18 hole golf course, a 10 car garage for Otto's Rolls Royces, the most extensive greenhouses in the country at the time, tennis courts, an indoor lap pool, beautiful formal gardens designed by the Olmstead Brothers, a working dairy farm, a race track and an airstrip!
Built to be fireproof by Kahn, the Fench Chateau style house had 127 rooms, 39 fireplaces and over 400 doors and windows. There were roughly 126 servants to care for the Kahn family of six. Many caretakers came to the estate when the Kahns were there for the summer, by way of train (Cold Spring Harbor Station) and walked across the golf course into a tunnel under the ground to access the kitchens and laundry areas.
Today, Oheka castle is the largest private renovation in the United States. The transformation to its former glory has been 29 years in the making. It is roughly 95% complete. They host fabulous weddings and parties (just like in the old days) and they are also one of America's great historic hotels.
Come visit one of our true remaining Long Island treasures. Visit www.Oheka.com for more information on tours. I'll see you there!