The Most Beautiful McDonald’s In America

Last week, I was out in Long Island scouting around Jericho Turnpike, which, if you’ve never had the pleasure of driving, is one of those hellish, strip mall-lined highways with traffic lights that are perfectly synchronized to make your travel time as long as possible.

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As I was driving, I happened to notice a McDonalds sign up ahead. Nothing too special about that, except where the McDonalds should have been, there seemed to be a big white mansion. Maybe it was around back or something?

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And then I realized…

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The mansion was the McDonalds.

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Holy. Crap.

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This 100+ year old Georgian mansion is indeed a McDonalds, and while well known to locals, it totally caught me by surprise. I practically expected a maitre d’ to greet me as I went inside.

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Known as the Denton House, its bones date back to 1795, when it was constructed as a farm house by one Joseph Denton, a descendent of the founder of the village of Hempstead. In 1860, it was given a Georgian makeover, complete with gingerbread ornamentation, and throughout the 1900′s, found commercial use as a funeral home and a series of restaurants.

By 1986, it was abandoned and on the verge of falling down.

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McDonalds purchased the property with the intention of tearing it down and replacing it with a standard McDonald’s restaurant. Thank God for the citizens of the New Hyde Park, who worked to secure landmark status for the building in 1987.

McDonald’s had no choice but to restore the property and work within the parameters of the landmarks commission, which ultimately resulted in their most beautiful restaurant in America (if you know of a better example, please let me know).

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It was decided to restore the property to its 1926 appearance, based on an old photograph. Opened in the early 1990′s, the house remains in fantastic shape to this day.

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One of the mansion’s most striking aspects is its beautiful glassed-in veranda…

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…which offers a pretty unique McDonald’s eating experience (how cool would it be if it was actually open, or covered by screens?).

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But the details continue around on its eastern side…

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…from its shuttered windows and brick chimneys to its eaves dripping with gingerbread ornamentation:

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The western half is equally stately…

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…though, er, methinks the drive-through might not be original to the Denton farmhouse:

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But had someone showed me this picture, I would have NEVER guessed it was a McDonald’s.

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Unfortunately, the inside has been totally gutted and redone without much inspiration.

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Still, it is far more unique than your typical McDonald’s, with a grand staircase leading to an upstairs dining area.

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Also, there’s something fascinating about being in an enormous open-air mansion, and I definitely appreciate how the roof has been revealed.

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Almost as an afterthought, the small ordering area is nestled to one side:

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I love the New Hyde Park McDonald’s, if for no better reason than how clearly it makes the argument for historic preservation. We can live in a world of this…

McDonald's Restaurant, Miles City

…or this:

MC (06)

Really don’t have anything else to add.

-SCOUT

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96 comments

  1. Sensational Nick, I don’t mind a beautiful building that otherwise would have been bulldozed down, restored in this way. I think they have been realistic in their restoration and have done a fine job. Good on you for finding this little gem.

  2. If I’m not mistaken this used to be a restaurant called Dallas Ribs or Dallas BBQ back in the mid-80s? They had ribs the size of my forearm, we went there once for my dads birthday in 1983, maybe 1984.

    Great photos, I’m glad the building has been preserved.

  3. Also check out the McDonald’s in Freeport, ME. Another adaptive reuse.

  4. We have a fantastic deco McDonalds here in Australia:

    https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=clifton+hill+mcdonalds&ix=h9&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=475&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=ur_ET-vzIofZigerj7XECg

  5. Sadly, McDonalds wins quite often. My parents live in Hawaii and people are still ticked that they were unable to save Haleiwa Theater, which was the only movie theater and an important building to the town.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rin-gen/4652330567/

  6. Brings knew meaning to the term “McMansion” doesn’t it?

  7. i wonder why rich folks don’t build new constructions like that. it’s easy to see why a corporate chain normally wouldn’t build such an ornate building, but it’s a shame that the ballers of the world aren’t into intricate details on the outside of their homes.

    • There are very few craftsman capable of doing the work and quite often the potential homeowner does not have the patience to wait. Also tastes change. I live in Forest Hills and recall a center hall colonial getting torn down on Jewel Avenue about 8 years ago. A tacky, over the top house was built on the lot. This past fall, the house was bulldozed again and an even bigger and uglier house is taking its place.

  8. danny, my hunch is that you either build high-end modern new, build crappy McMansion new, or buy old and restore. Not many people are interested in building high-end classic new.

  9. Out near greenport there is a McDonalds that resembles an old cottage. They had to abide by preservation laws and couldn’t build their typical structure.

  10. WOW…that really is gorgeous. I never saw this before. Thank you for sharing it!

  11. As mentioned above, there is a really cool McD’s in Freeport, Maine. They put their restaurant in an 1850′s Greek Revival house, as can be seen from the link to Google’s street view: http://goo.gl/maps/qXoE

  12. Yes! I went here once and was amazed as well! So beautiful! <3

  13. Frontier House in Lewiston NY used to be a McDonalds as well, but is now closed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontier_House_%28Lewiston,_New_York%29

    • Jim, I remember that McDonald’s in Lewiston, I believe it was one of the first I ever visited as a child. I always thought it was a strange building for a McDs. I haven’t been back “home” in years, so I was not aware that it was sitting vacant…quite the shame in my opinion.

      • Greg, the last few years the tourist traffic from Canada has dropped a lot due to the hassles crossing the border. I suspect that led to the closure. Agreed, quite a shame.

    • The subway is no longer in that building which is sad it was unique. But there is a beautifully adapted McDonalds in Freeport, Maine which Im sure you could find @ google images.

  14. That’s pretty cool! While I’ve driven Jericho Turnpike quite a lot, New Hyde Park is a lot further west than I usually get…

  15. Way to go to New Hyde Park for stepping up to save this building! Too bad about the inside but I suppose McDonald’s has their own business needs.

    • Tom, I wondered the same thing as I saw this piece.
      I travel out to the east end of Long Island semi-regularly and have noticed the McDonald’s restaurants out there are often hard to notice because they tend to blend in with the architecture of the neighborhood.
      I first noticed this in Hampton Bays on Rt-80. http://www.mcnewyork.com/20846 (tiny photo on the right)

      Then again up on the North Fork where the vineyards are.
      It is not always a beautiful structure but it is always interesting.
      My bet is that the communities out there on L.I. put up a mean fight. (You know how we NYrs can get)
      Good for them!!

  16. There is an interesting McDonalds in Bray, Co. Wicklow in Ireland. It’s built in the Tudor Revival style town hall. http://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/5498108316/

  17. Though somewhat less fancy there’s a similar McDonald’s farther out Long Island in Mattituck. I wonder if this is common for Long Island McDonalds restaurants?

    As far as I know the ones in Mattituck and New Hyde Park are the only Mickey D’s on Long Island that resemble old houses. There is one on Veterans Memorial Highway in Bohemia, close to MacArthur Airport, that’s built in a 1950′s retro style:
    https://maps.google.com/?ll=40.784689,-73.109819&spn=0.000802,0.001124&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=40.784714,-73.110453&panoid=uSR0ZH8QCN2B2eMEBWW0pA&cbp=12,199.87,,0,0

  18. As with the McDonalds that was featured, the community in Mattituck fought McDonalds until they got what they wanted. I don’t remember, but I believe the one in Mattituck has very limited signage as well. If there is a sign, it’s probably waist high.

  19. Next time on LI dont take Sunrise or the LIE. Jump on the SSP or NSP parkways they are much more prettier to drive on.

    • Yes, they are prettier roads. But as their name implies, “Park”ways, they were intended for “Sunday Drivers” . The lanes are narrow and the curves in the road were not intended for cars traveling at 60 +/- mph. I always found it interesting the number of parks and park vestiges that can still be found and ino use along most of the parkways Robert Moses built in NY.

  20. Whatever Mary, walk to McDonalds!!!

  21. Fantastic pictures as always. I recently visited Belfast , Ireland and came across the most beautiful building that has been converted into a Tescos supermarket – I have added a picture to my blog – http://ellaspencilsandpens.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/pretty-places.html

    • Sorry to be pedantic, but the Irish won’t thank you for saying Belfast is in Ireland. It’s in Northern Ireland. That’s a different country entirely ;-)

  22. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in Germany, has a McDonald’s very discretely tucked into a 16th century stone building on the main Market Plaza. Small sign, no ads in the windows, you have to really look to find it. No pics tho, sorry!

  23. What’s the exact address?

  24. Glad to see Freeport (and the Ellsworth Subway) getting some love! Although neither are as grandiose as the one McD’s in this post.

  25. If you don’t like Jericho Turnpike to drive down you will like Hempstead Turnpike even less – it is twice as bad. Yes, this structure was at one time the Dallas Rib restaurant. The interior was so chopped up over the years it couldn’t be restored. It took about 2 + years to bring the building back and a lot of $. This building is on the north side of Jericho Tpke just west of Denton Avenue.

  26. Thank you so much for posting this. I went to that McDonalds a few times when I was a kid and it always stood out in my memory. Over the years, I lost track of it and could never remember where exactly it was. I was beginning to doubt my memory. Next time I’m up in NY I’m going to take my kids there.

  27. This was billed as the Most Magnificent when it was built in the early 90′s

    http://goo.gl/maps/oaVX

  28. I drove by this McDonalds with my family last weekend when we were in NY for a wedding, and we commented on how unique it was. Kind of funny to see it pop on here now a week later!

  29. RAYMOND HOLMES

    It really outdoes the well-known “McDonald House”…I know it’s for a good cause.

    So happy the ‘GOOD AMERICANS’ have reached your $15,000 goal.

    I have friends in that area and hope they have or are frequenting your WONDERFUL house.

  30. The Lake Forest, IL McDonald’s is also quite beautiful. Not as much as this one, but it might be second on the list. It was designed to look like a barn, and it is actually very beautiful and different.

  31. i’m surprised Jericho Tpk is discribed as “strip mall-lined highways with traffic lights that are perfectly synchronized to make your travel time as long as possible.” There are only a few strip malls along Jericho in New Hyde Park and continuing west towards Queens. Also “highway”? The speed limit is between 30 and 40 mph. If you want to put that type of description on a road, please drive down Hempstead Turnpike, especially in Levittown. It is exactly what not to do to create a pedestrian-friendly environment. It was also named one of the most deadliest roads on Long Island. Please do not put that type of demeaning description in such a great town.

  32. Years ago the Studabaker Mansion near or in South Bend, Indiana, had a wonderful restaraunt that served the most delicious Sunday brunch. Don’t know if they’re still in business…but the mansion was amazingly beautiful! (Please excuse misspellings! No spell check available.)

  33. I was prepared to hate this, but actually by the end, I had decided it was better than having the mansion torn down!

  34. I don’t eat at McDonald’s, but this is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  35. I have lived in New Hyde Park all my life and was at this McDonald’s the day it opened!!! To tell you the truth, The Denton House never looked better (except maybe in its heyday of course). Thank you for writing about this beautiful McDonald’s – even if you called Jericho “hellish!”

  36. thank you for your comments. my husband and I were the people who submitted the historic preservation application. it took a lot of hard work and support to accomplish this but it was well worth it. it is just sad that many of the people who jumped on the bandwagon after the fact actually opposed saving the building and refused to support us. a wonderful Garden City Park historian gave us the background we were unable to find in the library. people from different states who had similar situations also gave us encouragement. we are glad the Denton house still stands and that people passing do give pause and admire it.

    • Thank you so much for submitting the paperwork that brought about the saving of this building. My grandfather Luigi Montaruli owned a restaurant there in the 50″s. I along with many of my other family members lived upstairs and all worked in the restaurant. It is awesome to see this building preserved. Thank you for caring about the history of your community. I also remember Barton’s Stadium on the other side of Jericho Turnpike; most likely torn down many years ago.

  37. I just started working in Garden City Park the week before this was originally posted. I had seen this before driving by on the way home from a job I was working at up in The Bronx … Jericho’s sometimes quicker than the LIE ;) But I didn’t know what town I was in, just passing thru, and at rush hour I wasn’t about to stop.

    But now I work less than a mile from here and have gone here for lunch quite a few times. I work in construction and love old architecture so I had to see it up close. Amazing restoration of the outside and incredible reconstruction of the interior as an open atrium structure.

    Sitting there eating your Bigmac you sure don’t feel like you’re sitting in a Mickey D’s – LOL.

  38. Toledo, OH once had a very lovely McDonald’s in the south part of town near the now-demolished Southwyck Shopping Center. I can’t find any pics of it at the moment, though one guy bothered to do a video of it’s exterior here, though I don’t care for his opinion on the matter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBYjE0SolSg

    From what I recall asking someone on it (perhaps at the restaurant itself which I also recall was very unique inside), the place use to be a bank before becoming a McDonald’s sometime in the 1980′s. Sometime in the past decade the building was torn down and a new McD’s was built in place I think, shame really they didn’t keep it looking this way.

  39. while yes this is cool, I find it wrong that people did not care about this as a historic site UNTIL someone with money bought it. If they bought it in ‘86 and it was later added to the historic list in ‘87 it is not fair to force the new owners to take on the task of preservation. Once they have it on the historic register the new owners would not be able to sell it unless the new owners were willing to restore it thus get locked into it. please don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great idea to restore and preserve these things, I just think it is wrong to force a company to do it like this.

    • While I understand and appreciate where you’re coming from, I don’t completely agree with you. To a multi-billion dollar company, the money required to complete this renovation is comparable to pennies in your pocket. Those who pushed for the historic status did so because they didn’t have the money to renovate the house themselves, in addition to the fact that they refused to see over 150 years of history be demolished and replaced with some run-of-the-mill McDonald’s.

  40. This was my Great Uncle Louie’s restaurant, Luigi’s. His family lived upstairs and the restaurant was downstairs. He sold the restaurant in 1956. It became the Charred Oak Manor before it became McDonalds.

  41. “we can live in a world of this or this”

    Or we could live in a world of neither? bullshit false choice.

  42. Mc’Donalds at Nyugati (Western Railway Station Building) in Budapest, Hungary
    https://www.google.hu/search?q=nyugati+mcdonald%27s+budapest

  43. I think the lesson is that local support for historical recreation is very important. McDonald’s should be congratulated for responding to local planning demands but, probably,would not have come up with this solution on its own. A public spirit – and organization – is necessary in a community with a well-developed image of itself.

  44. My dad is the actual owner/operator of this McDonald’s…he also works really hard for the community at large! We really appreciate your business…keep it coming!

    • My understanding was that your dad is a doctor and this was a project of your mothers. I may be wrong, and yet this is what I heard.

  45. Does this McDonalds fill the fries compleyely or just half full?

  46. What a concept…I love it and the community that had the foresight to allow/approve this concept by the owners is to be commended for true patriotism. Using these old mansion type structures is a good idea! Thanks for this news item.
    lja/JMJ

  47. It reminds me of the movie Richie Rich with the McDonald’s that was in their Castle.

  48. Matthew N. Petersen

    The MacDonalds in Leavenworth Washington may be the most beautiful MacDonalds that looks like a MacDonalds.

    https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/30362207

  49. Dear God, This is precisely everything about America I loathe.

    Imagine, this beautiful house turned into a squalid Mickey D’s. It is to weep.

  50. The argument for historic preservation should take into account the costs. NOWHERE are those mentioned, presumably the author doesn’t know. In the absence of such information, how can one evaluate?

  51. I believe this was the old Westbery Manor.

  52. As a few others have mentioned above, Freeport, ME has a quaint Victorian styled McDonalds as well.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mudder_bbc/435695431/

    While the interior of the one you found, in New Hyde Park, is certainly more lavish, than that of Freeport’s, the one in Maine is still quite charming. I live in New Brunswick, Canada, and my family summered in New England, usually at Old Orchard Beach. My sister and I always LOVED the McDonalds in Freeport. As an adult, my girlfriends and I do Black Friday shopping in Freeport and Kittery at the outlets. I’m still enchanted by the charm of Freeport, and love eating at McDicks in a house :P

  53. My cousin owns this McD. He is a great employer, treats his employees very well and gives back to the community, employees. He is a very generous person overall to community Church employees.

  54. This is the place my family (the Montaruli’s)once called home. My Grandfather and father bought the old place back in the 1940′s and renovated the downstairs to an Italian resturant and bar. We lived upstairs up until grandpa and dad leased it to the rib place and later sold it. Brings back great memories though. I’ve never eaten in a more beautiful McDonalds.

  55. revision to above…. After Luigi’s it was leased to another resturant operator who changed it to “The Charred Oak Manor” and then turned over again to the Rib Place before being sold. …

  56. byron jones jr......

    i still would not eat at MC DIARRHEA for any amount of money, choke & puke all the way down…..

  57. There’s lovely stone Federal style house McDonalds in Lewistown, NY. It too has a slightly bizarre feel, with everything deeper inside than the window frames made of 20th century materials that can be cleaned with ammonia and do no harm.

    Here is a pre McDonald picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FrontierHouse.JPG

  58. There’s a McDonald’s made fit into one of Freiburg, Germany, old town gates. It opened around 1975 and at that time was the oldest building they ever opened a reastaurant in – it was built before 1238 (sic!). Find pictures here: https://www.google.com/search?q=mcdonald'shttps://www.google.com/search?q=mcdonald's+freiburg&hl=en&hs=Q3V&rls=de&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch

  59. In the 1940s I grow up 6 blocks from this house. As young kids we thought it was haunted therefore never went inside.

  60. Westbury Manor is further east on Jericho…..

  61. That is fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘tour of the house’ and just wish that the inside hadn’t had to be gutted quite as much as it has been, but it could have been worse. Outside, it’s a beauty. Wish I could afford a home like that and wish I could travel to U.S. and see that.

  62. Check out the old house on the main street that Mcdonalds renovated many years ago in Lewiston, NY

  63. We have an old historic building, wrought iron and stone front brick building that has been made in to a drive threw bank here in Omaha, NE. It looks so much nicer than one of the new cheapo glass and aluminum style banks.

    I really like this McDonald’s maybe the name should be a little different too, maybe like Mac Donald’s. Maybe Tartan table cloths and …. Ah well maybe a little to far, but still…..

    Its too bad we can’t get these big chains to make all their “restaurants” look as nice as this one…

  64. There’s a McDonalds in Sedona, AZ that is in a Sante Fe style building and has teal green arches. They weren’t allowed to have yellow arches as the city thought yellow would clash with the red rocks that make the city famous.

  65. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely loving the information.

  66. When I published my photos on Facebook, I thought too that the locals must know this McDo – Amazingly many don’t/didn’t……..
    I love also the attention to detail on the upper storey…..the solid wooden chairs bear the carved seal of McDonald’s – amazing!
    I only know of one other comparable, since I come from France (on holiday here) then here is a link to McDonald, Place de la Comédie, Montpellier:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c9/Montpellier(France)2.JL.jpg/800px-Montpellier(France)2.JL.jpg, although I know of a few in Germany

  67. anonymous45@gmail.com

    Dear Scouting NY.com,

    Thank you for showing us this mansion,but I have to inform you that I have seen a much more beautiful looking Mcdonald’s Restaurant right in the heart of the biggest,and most busiest city in America.

    New York City!!! This Mcdonald’s Restaurant is spectacular because it looks from the outside like an exciting movie theater with pretty shimmering lights,and when you go inside it looks like a cross between a movis theater,a cozy diner,and a luxury hotel all rolled into one.

    It’s located on 42nd Street between 41st,and 43 streets in Manhattan,New York.

    You would love it looks like a magnificent work of art!!!

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  71. RE: “We can live in a world of this… Or this.”

    Do we really have to choose between two? Why can older architecture not exist alongside modern architecture? I don’t think they are mutually exclusive.

  72. I was driving the other day and when we drove past this building I could not believe it was a McDonald’s my sister-in-law called me today and ask me if I have seen it and could believe I just saw it so she wants to come down from up state New York to eat there. Can’t wait to go just to see this beautiful building. Good Job McD’s

  73. Another McDonalds conversion I’ve always liked when I drive past is this imposing old building, in North London – http://goo.gl/maps/27Pzn

  74. Went there once in the 60′s. It was a high end restaurant called the Charred Oak Inn.

  75. Check out the McDonald’s in Freeport Maine. Heck , check out the Abercrombie and Fitch there as well. All built using the existing buildings in that town I assume due to the strict zoning laws there……….

  76. Just stumbled across this… fantastic! I’d been to this McDonalds a couple of times as a teenager, and wondered why on Earth McDonald’s would build such an awesome-looking location, but I never knew the place had actual history.

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