Over the past three days, we’ve taken a look at the grounds of Hempstead House, the opulence of its first floor, and the decay of its basement. Today, I’m finishing off the series by taking you to the upper floors and beyond. We start by heading to the second floor via the master staircase…
Though other windows throughout the mansion have long since lost their original glass and molding, these on the very front of the building seem like new:
A close-up, featuring many different family crests:
As you arrive at the second floor landing…
…you come to the front-most room in the mansion, lined on all sides by windows:
Moving further into the second floor…
…we come to this hallway leading north. The walls are decked out in purple and gold wallpaper, with a matching rug running its length…
…and black lampshades (this is sort of what I picture a hallway in Tim Burton’s house to look like):
More black lampshades…
Continuing to the end of the hallway and passing through a door, we find the mansion’s master bedrooms, and incredibly, it’s been left just as the Guggenheim’s kept it!
I’m kidding, of course – this is actually a movie set from the NBC TV series Kings. The show was cancelled in 2009 and it looks like no one ever came to retrieve the props.
My guess is the purple/gold/black hallway motif is also from the show. This fireplace, however, is real:
The bedroom consists of two large connected rooms. This is the inner-most room:
Some detail is left on the ceiling. A chandelier once hung from the center:
The actual former master bedroom is across the hall, this one with a view overlooking Long Island Sound:
In the corner, is a door…
…which takes you onto one of the mansion’s rear roof landings:
The landing is lined with crenelations:
Great view of the backyard and the water beyond:
Heading down the hallway toward the southern portion of the building…
…we find a number of empty rooms:
These were mostly former bedrooms:
There are also several bathrooms in varying conditions.
This photo, from the 1940 Life Magazine shoot, shows a child being bathed in what is described as a pure marble tub. Sadly, I believe it has long since been removed:
I then headed up a set of stairs to the third floor, passing what has to be the skinniest fire exit door I’ve ever seen:
This is the third-floor hallway of what became an orphanage from 1940 – 1967.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, English children were brought here to escape the dangers of World War II. At first, it was simply a temporary residence before they were shipped off to acquaintances in the US. As time went on, it took on a new role:
Now, bedrooms that once housed dozens of orphans at a time, pictured above and below, are empty and forgotten, and have been for over 40 years. The original green paint (matching that of the basement) is faded and flaking…
The white-tiled bathrooms are in shambles:
Walking the halls, you’d never have any idea that children once called this home.
Except, for one clue: a beautiful hand-painted illustration, which still remains on one wall.
I can’t tell you how much I love this piece:
Delightfully whimsical, it’s made all the more poignant to think it was created as a small way of brightening the lives of children seeking refuge from the horrors of war.
One wonders how many children gazed on this with a smile, or perhaps slept beside it, dealing with a traumatic loss few could imagine.
A sun, a moon, and a star. I love the slight dots of brilliant white used to accentuate them:
A young fisherman and girl:
Many of the children brought overseas were only 1-2 years old, meaning there’s a good chance some are still alive (they’d be in their 70’s by now):
The rooms go on and on, and could have accommodated dozens of children:
I was then led up a decaying spiral staircase…
…passing the very old motor to the elevator below (no longer functioning, of course):
At the top of the stairs, you come to the top-most room in the mansion…
…labeled “501” by the Navy (see the black marker over the door?), who literally numbered every room. I stepped through this wooden door…
…and onto the second highest landing on the property, with a ladder leading to the highest turret:
Before heading up the turret, I took a moment to look at the arrow loops – slits in the wall to allow archers to shoot arrows through. A very necessary building addition in Long Island…
Finally, I climbed up the swaying iron ladder to the highest turret on the mansion…and this was the view!
A full panorama looking toward Long Island Sound (click for full size!):
The reverse panorama, looking back toward the grounds (click for full size!):
The turret also offered a bird’s eye view of the grounds…
…as well as Castle Gould in the distance:
It also gave me a chance to look at the roof from above, with its many chimneys and windows:
The other side:
Hempstead House is a rare jewel, especially from a location scouting perspective: a former Gold Coast mansion with over 200 acres of land featuring woodland, lakes, expansive lawns, and a beach; an exterior in beautiful condition that could easily double for a medieval castle; a first and second floor with rooms reflecting the opulence of the era; a basement and third floor filling any “abandoned location” requirements you could possibly have; and a turret!
Hempstead House, Castle Gould, and Sands Point are all available for film, TV, and photo shoots. The properties are also available for event rental – many couples have their wedding on the back lawn of Hempstead House, with the reception catered inside on the first floor.
For more info, shoot me an email and I’ll put you in touch with the property representatives.
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