Scouting The Ruins of Jay Gould’s Indoor Pool

Whenever I go up to scout Lyndhurst Castle, railroad tycoon Jay Gould’s former estate on the Hudson River…

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…I’ve always wondered about the gated, semi-abandoned-looking property you pass on the way out.

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A bit of background: first built in 1838 for New York City mayor William Paulding, Jr., the estate was later purchased for use as a summer home by Gould in 1880. Gould renamed the property Lyndhurst and added several buildings to the grounds, including a gorgeous Victorian greenhouse that once housed his collection of orchids, considered at the time to be among the most impressive in the country.

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The house is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture, and still has many of the original furnishings…

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And the grounds, with views of the Hudson, are spectacular:

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After being passed among relatives following Gould’s death in 1892, the property was finally bequeathed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961.

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Even if you’ve never heard of Lyndhurst, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it before. A popular filming location, Lyndhurst has been used in numerous movies and TV shows, including both pre-Johnny Depp Dark Shadows films.

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But what about that forgotten building near the entrance? What was hiding behind that chain-link fence?

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On my last visit, I finally asked about it, and was told that it was Gould’s indoor pool (also known as a natatorium). Sadly, when the property was passed on from the Gould family, the pool had been allowed to deteriorate, and further decades of damage had left it in a state of ruin.

Popping the padlock, we headed inside to take a look at what remained…

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We first came to a formal entrance room. Then, stepping through the arched doorway…

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We entered into the main pool room:

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It’s a bit hard to imagine, but had you been here about a hundred years ago…

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…this is what you would have seen:

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Here’s another photograph, showing the building’s gorgeous skylight roof.

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Unfortunately, by 1971, the pool was already in a state of serious disrepair, as seen in the below picture:

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The good news is that the structure has been stabilized. And while little remains of the original design…

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…there are still some interesting remnants. Toward the front, for example, you’ll see the last two remaining columns, with a frieze overhead…

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A small aquatic motif…

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Running along the top, you can also still see a strip of octagonal-paned windows lining the top…

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A new roof completely covers the entire space, protecting it from further damage:

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Much of the pool’s original tiling is still in place…

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Below, the pattern on the walkways surrounding the pool:

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Though its original glamor is long gone, the ruins are still extremely photogenic, and Lyndhurst is hoping to get the word out that this is available for professional shoots.

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There are several additional spaces near the entrance…

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…and I’d love to know if these were once changing rooms of some kind:

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Nature starting to make its way inside:

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Properly lit, I think this could be a fantastic alternative for productions looking for the same old “abandoned warehouse” look. The hope is to restore the structure at some point, and perhaps give it new life as, say, a small theater:

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For comparison, Lyndhurst is finishing up restoration of Gould’s bowling alley, located in his recreation building down by the water…

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…and it literally looks as though it were installed yesterday (it was actually built in 1895, making it possibly the oldest private two-lane bowling alley in the country):

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I’m a big fan of Lyndhurst, and I wanted to spread the word about the pool building’s availability for shoots. Most scouts think of Lyndhurst as the place to go for formal and elegant locations, not abandoned buildings with crumbling bricks and exposed beams. Turns out, they have both to offer, among many, many others.

And if you’d like to visit, Lyndhurst offers house tours on Fridays-Sundays through December (the pool is not shown at this time). There are also Christmas programs being offered. The grounds are open to all.

While you’re there, be sure to check out one other neat ruin on the property. Make your way down to the water, and you’ll find this rusted structure crossing the train tracks toward the Hudson:

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Step back, and you’ll see that it’s the bridge that once led down to Gould’s private pier, from which he’d travel to Manhattan:

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6 comments

  1. I love Lyndhurst. Up until a few years ago, the Westchester Kennel Club had their all-breed show on the Lyndhurst grounds every September. It was such a beautiful site, and the weather always seemed to be perfect.

    As with all things, entries went down, costs got to be too much, and they moved the whole thing to a park in Bridgewater NJ. Still a great club and a nice show… but I do miss Lyndhurst.

  2. Georgian Court University claims this is the oldest bowling lanes from 1899, but you seem to have them beat by 4 years. If you can, visit one day, the lanes are beautiful and the building itself is unique – originally an indoor polo field.
    See http://www.georgian.edu/georgian/content.aspx?id=10317

  3. I entered my dogs in that show at Lyndhurst for years! It was my favorite show site, although the parking was a bit difficult! After you showed your dog, you could walk the grounds (accompanied by your dog), or do a self-guided tour of the house and other open buildings. I still miss it! Thanks for the wonderful photos.

  4. The oldest bowling alley in the country is at Roseland Cottage in CT. It was built in 1846.
    http://www.historicnewengland.org/historic-properties/homes/roseland-cottage/photographic-tour/Bowling%20alley/view
    However, that is only a 1-lane bowling alley, so your facts may be corrext

  5. Great post, and lovely location. I’ll hope to see it used in The CW’s new Gotham show. It fits the mood of that show perfectly.

  6. Lyndhurst was used as the Penn home in the recent movie “Winter’s Tale”. It was called ‘Coheeries’ in the movie, but it was unmistakeably Lyndhurst. There are some behind-the-scenes photos on the Lyndhurst website http://www.lyndhurst.org.

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