Many 20th century New York business tycoons and high-society families had summer homes (AKA mansions) out on Long Island, and as over-the-top as they were, we now have some beautiful historic architecture and landscapes to explore!
The latest one we’ve discovered is the Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium out in Centerport in Suffolk County on Long Island.
The mansion itself on the property was the summer home of William K. Vanderbilt II, great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Called “Eagle’s Nest,” it originated as a small “cottage” when it was first built in 1910, but over the years expanded into a 24 room Spanish-Revival mansion.
Though it housed Vanderbilt and his family in the warmer months, it was actually also purposely built as part-museum, so he could display historic collections from his travels.
And of course, as its name suggests, that museum is still here today to peruse, along with a state-of-the-art Planetarium and Park grounds you can enjoy on a sunny day.
The main attraction, perhaps, is the amazing Long Island waterfront views. You can see sailboats dot the harbor and bright blue water beyond the well-manicured gardens and Mediterranean features of the house, which include a classic pantile roof, stucco facades, and elegant ironwork.
The Museum is currently open Fridays from 12-4 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It has four wings, each with noteworthy specimens from Vanderbilt’s many sailing adventures around the world: the Habitat Wing holds the world’s largest taxidermized fish, the Memorial Wing contains antique cars and model ships, the Nursery Wing has a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy, and the Hall of Fishes has thousands of marine specimen spanning two stories.
The Planetarium is open Friday evenings 7:30-10 p.m. and Saturday evenings 7:30-10 p.m.
During regular museum hours, you can even tour the Vanderbilt family’s living quarters in the Mansion, though it is on a first come, first served basis. Tickets can be purchased from Admissions, and the number of guests on each tour is limited to 12. They occur at 12:30, 1, 2, 3 and 3:30 p.m.
Regular Museum tickets are $10 for adults, and the tour is an added $6.
The historic Mansion and Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport, New York. It’s easiest to get there by car, but you can also take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) from Penn Station to Greenlawn (on the Port Jefferson Line) and then take a 10-minute taxi or Uber ride to the mansion.
Find out more on the Vanderbilt Mansion & Planetarium website here!