31 Fort Hill Dr, Lloyd Neck, NY 11743
Standing majestically on a bluff overlooking the confluence of Cold Spring Harbor, Oyster Bay and Long Island Sound, with a lighted staircase descending to over 1000 feet of its own beachfront and 160-foot deep-water dock, this completely renovated, 3-story, brick and limestone, turn-of-the-20th-century Tudor mansion is truly a treasure of immeasurable proportions. With a history dating back long before the Revolutionary War, its 10+ acre grounds, with sweeping meadows, lush lawns, and acres of award-winning formal gardens, have seen everything from English soldiers repelling rebels to celebrity guests enjoying a breathtaking sunset while dance music wafts on the evening breeze from the ballroom. Imagine living in such a serene and magical setting far from the hub bub of commerce yet less than an hour from New York City. Ideal for entertaining on a grand scale, Fort Hill includes an indoor squash court, separate wing with ballroom and expansive guest suite, a commercial-sized state-of-the-art kitchen, solarium, banquet-sized dining room, verandas, terraces, balconies and much more. Approached by a circular courtyard, the manse welcomes visitors through a porte cochère to a second circular courtyard. Reached by a separate drive, an impressive 5,000+ sq ft garage built by the present owner in 1994, closely resembles the main house and appears to be as old. Throughout the home, the exquisite detailing and craftsmanship dating back more than 100 years, has been masterfully restored to its original glory as seen in the stunning coat-of-arms displayed in one of many stained glass windows and an exterior limestone relief, or the high coffered ceilings, inlaid wood floors, linenfold paneling and intricate millwork.
HISTORY Few estates in the United States have as long and colorful a history as Fort Hill on Lloyd Neck. Encompassing approximately 3,000 acres and known originally as Caumsett, this emerald neck of land extending into Long Island Sound between Cold Spring and Huntington Harbors was originally purchased from Matinecock Native Americans in 1654 for a few pieces of clothing and some tools. In 1670, the area became the property of James Lloyd of Boston, who had his son, Henry develop the area as a manor in the English tradition, where tenants paid so much for the privilege of living and farming there. The Lloyd Manor House was built in 1711 but shortly burned down and was replaced in 1714. It was occupied by Benjamin Thompson, who designed the nearby Fort Franklin that was built on the very site of the present Fort Hill House. Lloyd Manor had the unique distinction of housing the Duke of Clarence (later to become King William IV). During the Revolutionary War, Fort Franklin, perched on a bluff high above the water, was a strategic part of England’s defense of her war ships moored in Cold Spring Harbor and Oyster Bay. Revolutionary forces tried many times to take the fort but to no avail. For centuries, cannon balls, shot and coins have been unearthed by gardeners throughout the Neck. The Lloyds forfeited the land around the fort to England’s military, and it was subsequently purchased in 1879 by Anne Coleman Alden who commissioned famed architectural firm McKim, Mead & Bigelow to build her a summer residence on the site. In 1900, William John Matheson, a brilliant chemist who founded a dye and pigment company that merged with J. P. Morgan’s Allied Chemical, purchased the 330 acre estate from Mrs. Alden’s heirs. He commissioned Boring and Tilton, architects who designed the Ellis Island buildings, to create a sprawling brick and limestone structure over the McKim house in a Tudor style with castellated parapets, colonnades, and ramparts overlooking the water, paying homage to its predecessor, Fort Franklin. He later added an indoor squash court, a porte cochère, ballroom, and acres of formal gardens. The present owners purchased Fort Hill in 1992 and continued to restore it to its former glory. In 3 years, Fort Hill was meticulously restored from the ground up and today, it is not only an impressively renovated historical masterpiece, but it is a comfortable residence with all the updated amenities including new electric, heating and plumbing. Following the original footprint of Matheson’s estate, it includes three acres of exquisite formal gardens plus the addition of a 5,000+ square-foot garage, built to closely resemble the main house’s architecture. In 1996, Fort Hill won the New York State Preservation Award, and in 1998 its magnificent gardens won the Long Island Nursery and Landscapers Award.
LOCATION Lloyd Neck encompasses approximately 10 square miles and is located about 30 miles from Manhattan on the North Shore of Long Island. Many notable personalities have called it home over the past century including Marshall Field, whose estate is now Caumsett State Park with miles of equestrian and cross country ski trails. Just a few miles south, are the delightful villages of Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor boasting charming shopping districts and fine and casual dining. New York City is approximately a 50-minute commute by train or car, and airports are about 40 minutes away.
MAIN HOUSE Entered off the porte cochère, a vaulted entrance foyer, with Trompe l’oeil limestone walls, gilded accents, cloakroom and powder room, opens through leaded-glass French doors to the palatial living room. This grand receiving area boasts linenfold paneling, beamed ceilings, and a massive, hand-carved fireplace flanked by arched bookcase niches. Pocket doors lead into the warm and inviting library that enjoys a cozy atmosphere with a large brick fireplace and original knotty-pine paneling, dentil crown molding, and built-in bookcases. A wall of intricate leaded-glass windows provides verdant views of the property. Wide stairs ascend to a gallery leading to the upper floors and to the formal dining hall. Flooded with water vistas through a huge bay window, this banquet-sized space boasts superbly executed fresco murals by famed 1930’s naval artist, Griffith Bailey Coale (founder of the U. S. Naval Combat Artist Corps.) and recently, expertly preserved by artisans from the Smithsonian Institute. Fielded paneling is punctuated by faux-marble Ionic pilasters, massive dentil crown molding, and seashell motifs above doors and display niches. From the dining hall, a spacious service area can be accessed, that includes a large butler’s pantry, walk-in pantry, staff stairs and half-bath, access to the esplanade, kitchen, and front verandah. Designed for serving any number of guests, the capacious kitchen includes ceramic tile floors, extensive oak cabinetry, granite countertop, and a large center island with butcher-block and marble countertop. Several separate workstations, provide ample space for meal preparation, baking, clean-up and more and are fitted with stainless steel sinks and an ample array of stainless steel commercial-grade appliances. These include several Traulsen refrigerators, ice maker, trash compactors, two dishwashers (one residential and one large commercial), two microwave ovens, Garland 6-burner gas stove with 2 ovens, a separate grill and salamander broiler. Off the kitchen, The North Wing includes a caretaker’s suite with office, den, kitchen, a covered entry accessing the service courtyard and garage, and stairs to the second floor with 4 caretaker bedrooms, closets and a full bath. Attached to the north wing, a heated squash court includes stairs to a second floor observation gallery. In the main house, a wide staircase ascends to the second floor that offers several bedrooms including a lovely junior suite with sitting area, fireplace and large bay window. The staircase continues up to the master suite’s own private level. Here, two generous connecting master bedrooms enjoy separate fireplaces, sitting area, reading alcove, en suite baths, and walk-in closets. A staircase from this level’s foyer ascends to the third floor, which houses a multitude of additional bedrooms.
EAST WING The east wing of the house was designed for entertaining on a lavish scale. Guests are welcomed through an exquisite carved wood and leaded glass door into a grand ballroom with herringbone oak floors, mahogany panels with carved accents, original bronze and alabaster sconces and coffered ceiling. A massive hand-carved limestone fireplace commands the center of the room, which is illuminated by leaded-glass windows with a large bay window and a door opening to a spacious verandah. Beautifully crafted stairs lead to a luxurious guest apartment that includes two floors of living space. The second floor hall leads to a large sitting room with three exposures and access to a rooftop balcony, a full kitchen, bedroom and a full bath.
PORCH Accessed from the living room, a charming veranda framed with brick archways offers gentle offshore breezes and spectacular water views. This outdoor retreat leads to the expansive semi-circular porch providing an ideal open-air venue for relaxation and conversation. An adjoining solarium with a dramatic glass ceiling and tilting windows is also accessed from the living room and provides a lovely environ for enjoying nature no matter the weather.
CARRIAGE HOUSE Approached by its own circular driveway, this expansive structure was built in 1994 and includes a foyer with a work area and staircase ascending to the second floor. This area includes a large office space and two guest apartments, each with sitting room, full kitchen, full bath and two bedrooms. The main level has room for twelve cars accessed through six carriage doors. It also includes a kennel, a half-bath and a workshop. There is ample parking space in its massive courtyard to handle numerous guests.
FORMAL GARDENS The estate’s three-acre formal English garden provides a seemingly endless array of botanical delights with emerald lawns divided by mature hedges and accented with brick walkways, exquisite and plentiful statuary, ancient trees, fountains, covered sitting areas, and an ever-changing panoply of color. A generous working greenhouse aids in maintaining year-round beauty and is a perfect backdrop for a charming lawn with whimsical child statues playing a game of ball.
BEACH & DEEP-WATER DOCK Accessed by a long, well-lit staircase from the esplanade, over 1000-feet of beachfront invites one to explore for seashells, take a dip or wave to passing sail boats going to and from the Sound. A 160-foot deep-water dock is ideal for ease in yachting or for visits from fellow sailor guests.
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Property Information Last Updated: 5/25/2013 at 8:39 PM.
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