Old Westbury. Built for Howard Phipps, youngest son of Henry Phipps, Jr. who made his fortune at Carnegie Steel, this approximately 90-acre-plus property, in the heart of Old Westbury, offers you the rare opportunity to own a “Gold Coast” estate still owned and lived in by the original family who built it nearly a century ago. Kept in glorious, pristine condition throughout, the fifteen-bedroom, twelve-bath mansion is like a time capsule or, perhaps, a time machine, transporting you back to a time known on Long Island’s North Shore as the “Golden Age.” From its creation in the 1930’s until today, every part of the estate’s magnificent grounds and mansion have created a sense of timeless beauty and a reverence for the wonders of nature and the importance of family. Just about everything in its interior appears to be in like-new condition, and much is original to the mansion, from its commercial-sized stainless-steel kitchen to its four-person elevator, spacious baths and bedrooms, and its many fireplaces.
One of the several large estates owned in Old Westbury by the Phipps Family, Erchless was built in 1935. Designed by Adams and Prentice, this brick Colonial Revival style mansion offers a plantation-style, U-shaped layout enfolding a large central courtyard, as if welcoming guests with outstretched arms. Stately and serene, it exhibits exquisite artistry in its detailing throughout and an impressive architectural-practicality underpinning the home’s grandeur. An example is the feature of soaring, arched windows in two sunrooms that lower into the basement on elevator motors to turn the spaces into summertime porches. Spacious guest rooms with en suite baths, sitting areas, and gorgeous fireplaces, plus large public rooms with towering ceilings, even grander fireplaces and stunning millwork provide a most hospitable venue for gracious and extensive entertaining.
Sweeping views from the mansion extend beyond the sprawling meadows to an alle of 80-foot-high beech trees beyond which a well-cared for farm and collection of stables, out buildings and staff housing are discreetly situated, making the estate virtually self-sufficient. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this magnificent estate are its enchanting, and seemingly endless array of gardens and specimen trees. For over 60 years, award-winning varieties of Rhododendrons have been bred here. Today, this botanical paradise is considered the finest rhododendron garden in the North East.
According to Forbes and Newsweek magazines, Old Westbury is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest suburbs in the country, an enclave that for more than two centuries the elite have built their grand residences. Conveniently located at the southern edge of what is known as Long Island’s “Gold Coast,” Old Westbury lies just a little over a half-hour commute to Manhattan via train or Northern Parkway and Long Island Expressway. Its 8.6 square miles of rolling wooded hills create a sense of country and an ideal place to tuck away secluded estates ranging from two acres to hundreds of acres. Long known as an equestrian’s paradise, it possesses miles of public riding trails, a horse farm, and polo grounds. 4,200 residents and approximately 1000 families comprise its population. There is no business center to the village, but residents are only a few minutes from outstanding shopping, dining, boating, cultural venues, and award-winning hospitals. It is home to three institutions of higher learning and two country-club golf courses.
Conveniently located between Long Island Expressway and the Northern Parkway in the very heart of Nassau County, “Erchless” provides easy access to Manhattan, both air ports, and the appealing north and south shores, including the popular Jones Beach. Leading from Long Island Sound to the Atlantic one can experience the endless enjoyment of the East End’s coveted northern wine country and South Fork’s summer destinations in the Hamptons. The estate’s 90-plus acres lie between Post Road and Hitchcock Lane with dual entrances on each road. Just across Post Road is the estate museum, Old Westbury Gardens, the former “Westbury” estate of John Shaffer Phipps, elder brother of Howard Phipps, one of several estates members of the Phipps family owned nearby. To the south of “Erchless,” is Westbury High School, built on land that was a gift from Howard Phipps.
Entered through iron gates at the north end of the estate, the main house stands majestically on a gentle hill overlooking a vast field partially partitioned into pastures edged with stained rail fencing. From the rear, graceful curved steps descend to a magnificent swimming pool carved from the emerald lawn. Through a grove of trees, a stunning garden leads to two pagodas, behind a mesmerizing koi fountain, that serve as bath houses for swimmers. To the west of the main house, a tennis court offers a delightful spot to enjoy a match beneath a shady canopy of grand beech tree.
To the east of the mansion, past a stand of towering pine trees, is a wonder to behold: paths and manicured lawns wend among acres and acres of breathtaking gardens nurturing seemingly endless varieties of horticultural splendor in a blazing panoply of color and variety. An allée of graceful trees invite you on a journey of discovery while teak benches and chairs placed here and there, and ancient statuary from the old world, invite you to stop and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the moment. The garden puts on a new dress for every season but saves its finest for spring when myriads of rhododendron blossoms appear. The estate’s original owner, Howard Phipps, Sr., had a great love for all that grows, but his passion was Rhododendrons in their many forms and colors, and he is responsible for many hybrid varieties still available today commercially. His son’s wife, Mary Phipps, also loved the garden and continued the rhododendron breeding and won many awards for her rhododendrons. She transformed the grounds into a magnificent arboretum and botanical garden that is masterfully maintained and improved to this day. Two greenhouses and a nursery on the property were built solely for rhododendron hybridization. For the past 15 years, the gardens have been maintained through organic methods such as composting and no pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
Far to the south of the main residence, behind a wall of trees, the green houses are joined by a charming group of well-kept farm buildings that include: a 12-stall horse stable; a two-story, three-door tractor barn; a hay barn; a five-car heated garage; a chicken house; a carriage house with four stalls and an unfinished second-floor apartment; a rented five-bedroom, two-bath farm house with office, finished basement, and large wraparound porch; a manager’s house with five bedrooms, three baths, walk-in attic; a chauffeurs cottage on Hitchcock Lane with three-bedrooms, two baths, a screened porch, and detached two-car garage; and a small renovated laundry house, now a stand-alone studio apartment. The main greenhouse was renovated two years ago for high fuel efficiency by replacing all the glass and the heating system. The second heated greenhouse is also heated. There is also an unheated over-wintering house, concrete cold frames, a large compost area, a nursery, vegetable and fruit garden, a scenic duck pond, and lovely landscaping throughout. Some paved and some unpaved roads provide access to all areas and buildings on the property.
Erchless is a tribute to the man who built it. Its interior offers spacious, sun-drenched rooms each possessing intricate detailing and unrivaled craftmanship from the intricately hand-carved fireplace mantels and overmantels and stunning inlaid stone and wood floors, to the exquisitely carved moldings around ceilings, doors, and windows. Though Georgian style runs throughout the house, there is a subtle weaving of Art Deco in amongst the cl