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Gatsby House Ends 115-Year History

Historic mansion in great disprepair torn down.

Daisy would have been disappointed, and so is Port Washington.

The so-called "Gatsby house," Lands End, built in 1896, was torn down April 16, 2011, marking the end of an era. Even though some say its connection as the model of Daisy Buchanan's house in the  may have been exaggerated, there is no doubt that the demolition of this historic home has touched a local chord.

"Lands End was a landmark for me in several ways," said Port resident Wil Tibby. "It represented a gilded era when things were simpler and clearer. It was an architectural beauty." 

Another local, Kathy Christie, reminisces about sailing Long Island Sound. Land's End was the first house she's spot returning after a day on the water, signaling she was home.  "Destroying the home is destroying a piece of history," Christie said.

Many residents feel this way, and the feeling is not limited to locals. An article in the U.K. Daily Mail Online also picked up the story and posted heartbreaking photos of the crumbling structure. The author bemoaned the fact the no one would buy the property. But with a minimum of $2 million to just begin renovations, and a $190,000-plus annual property tax bill, it is not surprising that no one could be found to take on the task.

Lands End was located at 30 Hoffstot Lane in Sands Point, on more than 13 acres. Five new beautiful homes will be built on the site, according to local realtor Susan Stein.

Stein believes that because the house was beyond repair, the new homes will be a positive thing. The land can begin a new history. Perhaps a budding Fitzgerald will find inspiration in what in the minds of readers will always remain East Egg.

Born and Raised in Port Washington April 30, 2011 at 08:00 PM
That is just the kind of comment I would expect from some local realtors. Not everything new is a positive thing. Just like the "new trees" planted on Port Boulevard, were supposed to replace the big beautiful shaded trees that existed before the developer cut them all down. I am so tired of the "positive" spin people put on everything so they can shove something unpalatable down our throats. Of course the prospect of selling one of those five homes, to a local realtor, would be nice for them, wouldn't it?
Ron April 30, 2011 at 08:41 PM
What a loss. It reminds me of the Montfort property... they tore that down to make a new football field. What a shame that was... I believe it turned out that it wasn't sufficient in size for bleachers. People are so quick to tear down that which is history, and forget that "history" is a part of each and every one of us.
Diane Schubach April 30, 2011 at 08:47 PM
I understand the disappointment, but because the house was in such disrepair and there was no one able to take on a renovation, I also understand the need to look ahead.
Wendy Heppt May 01, 2011 at 10:50 AM
I don't believe anyone noted the fact that over a decade ago it was discovered that the home was saturated with black mold and despite trying to remove it from the place when Mrs. Payson owned it, the mold continued to thrive and to spread.
Barbara Yakkey May 02, 2011 at 12:44 AM
It is really sad that the historic values don't retain their value in the modern world, and we just don't seem to view the historical value as being important it's ok to spend millions of dollars on cutting down trees to replace them with new ones, but not on preserving parts of who we are and where we came from.
Wendy Heppt May 02, 2011 at 02:24 AM
see black mold comment above
Ben May 02, 2011 at 09:49 PM
Diane S. is correct this house was beyond repair. They say that nothing lasts forever. I am sure that the new homes planned for teh site will be spectacular and an eye-catcher for all of the boaters to see. Preservations do their best around here I suppose. This house had to go.
charles bodouva May 03, 2011 at 06:35 AM
Diane and wendy,you seem to be full of..excuses.my family and I have several homes in sands point.mold removal wasn't possible? Taxes that high aren't able to be paid?I know my parents home is the "real daisy"home,and pay more than $100,000 in taxes.no they are not from that era,they are in their 60's,I am in my 30's.don't give the public crap.I met the paysons,as a boy,and that house was a lot of fun to play in,while mr payson and dad had cigars in the library,panneled in worm wood,and my mom had tea with mrs payson.it could have been saved.it was quietly bulldozed.put your money where your mouths are-donate your commissions to the villge of sp,to put under ground lipa wiring,re do un paved roads,etc.everything could be fixed,restored.as an architect,and historian,and lifetime resident,I am disgusted.I hope you can't build one more"mc mansion" in our town ever again.charles M bodouva,tudor lane.
CuriousMom May 03, 2011 at 09:20 PM
See the NYT articles on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/realestate/24lizo.html?scp=1&sq=brodsky%20gatsby&st=cse and http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/02/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/02lijour.html?scp=1&sq=bert+brodsky+sands+point&st=nyt The last buyer, Bert Brodsky, intended to subdivide from the beginning. His story about planning to live in the house strains credulity: did a man who runs a multi-million dollar corporation really not think to ask his kids if they were on board before making an 18 million dollar purchase? I don't know whether he let it slide into decay because it would be easier to argue for its demolition or because there was no point in taking care of something he planned to tear down. But he bears some responsibility and it seems that he (along with his his upbeat broker) are the ones who will benefit from the tear-down and subdivision. No idea what it will look like, though recent local building (see Port Blvd.) doesn't give me much hope.
Ben May 03, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Curious Mom, Bert Brodsky is a funny guy he is a jokester the part about his kids not wanting to live on the same street was a joke. Bert and his lovely wife have a nice home she just did the kitchen over tons of expensive granite she stashed away funds from her job as a subsitute teacher with the port washington schools one more person next to me on the school system gravy train! And yes her car is high end really stunning just like her! But we will miss that old house but it had to go it was too old needed too much work and no one would buy it. Ben
Gregory Kent Hubbard May 04, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Hello. This developer offered the pathetic excuse of deterioration for the destruction of this great house. This home was allowed to rot and deliberately left open to vandalism. Any home left to rot will do just that. This isn’t rocket science. For 45 years, my profession has been Historic Preservation. I know what the costs should be to save a structure in this condition. Maintenance and restoration costs were grotesquely exaggerated. Landmarks in far worse condition on equally valuable land are saved all the time. John Philip Sousa’s home on Hicks Lane, Sands Point, sat empty for more than THIRTY YEARS before my family saved it. We made the commitment, and the reward was a fine home at a fraction of the cost of replacement, with spectacular views of Manhattan. My opinion: there is no reason but greed for the destruction of this home. However, to offer the home’s condition as an excuse for demolition after letting it rot is pathetic. The developer pulled it down because he was speculating he could make pots of money, not because the costs were too much for him to justify saving this landmark. In my opinion, a developer who pretends that he might have saved this famous home if only the circumstances had been different is not being honest with the residents of the Sands Point, or anyone else for that matter, since newspapers and television stations across the world covered this needless demolition….. Gregory Hubbard
Diane Schubach May 05, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I'm just reporting what happened and what people said about it. I'm no expert on renovating historic homes. But that's what the comments are for!
John Q. Barrett May 06, 2011 at 12:39 AM
The real, indisputable history of Lands End should be noted, especially in this modern news non-paper: Lands End was the home of the great American newspaper reporter (and much else) Herbert Bayard Swope (1882-1958). To name just one fight that Swope picked and waged with his typewriter/columns, he went after the Ku Klux Klan early, clearly and intensely. Swope also hosted the big, celebrity-filled parties that give rise to Fitzgerald/Gatsby theories. Swope should be studied and appreciated, especially here in his town. Google his name to learn more.
Diane Schubach May 06, 2011 at 02:00 AM
@John: thanks for the information and thanks for reading this "modern news non-paper." :)
bruce sokolov May 08, 2011 at 08:29 PM
John- Thanks for enlightening those who weren't aware of the "Swope" era of Lands End. My late father Lionel Sokolov built our home at the top of the hill at #1 Hoffstots Lane in 1953 where I lived until graduating Port Washington High School in 1968. My folks befriended the Brandt family (Swopes daughter was Mrs. Brandt) who lived in the guest house on the estate and their daughter Mimi became my friend in '54 (I was 5 years old). Mimi and I spent countless days on the estate exploring every inch of that wonderful place including the main house where I met Herbert Swope often. There were housemaids, cooks, butlers and grounds keepers galore (20 in all) and Mimi and I often had dinner served to just the two of us in the grand great ballroom! The swimming pool was 'salt water', tennis court, play house, a grassy area specifically for a croquet court, an enormous two story carraige house where some of the hired help lived in rooms upstairs. Holloween parties at the main house was a spooky treat with many of the lights turned down. Anyway, just thought I'd throw in my early adventures and express my sorrow that nobody stepped up to the plate to save this awesome "Wonderland". -Bruce Sokolov biskit747@yahoo.com (Albuquerque , New Mexico)
Rachel Tiede November 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I was fortunate to live in the guest house on this beautiful property for one summer many years ago. After Hurricane Sandy, I came looking to see how it had fared. I am so sad that it is gone. I have wonderful memories of walking the shores and watching the tides, playing the grand piano in the parlor and the beautiful gardens. And there were hidden treasures to be found, like the blackberry bushes and the second greenhouse. I loved it so much! Will cherish my pictures all the more.

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