For a buyer in search of a bit of a fixer with a prestigious pedigree, look no farther than Long Island.
“It’s a just a spectacular example of that era, when large industrialists or wealthy people would build these huge houses,” says the listing agent, Max Spann.
Bidding begins at $7 million for the 32,096-square-foot estate on 16.4 acres. It initially landed on the market last November for $20 million, but failed to attract a buyer. If a buyer manages to score a deal for a price under eight figures, it’s a bargain—based on the replacement cost of the mansion.
“It has a marble staircase that at the time cost like $2 million to build, back in the 1910s, so we can only speculate what it would cost to replicate it today. I’ve heard estimates of $22 million. It’s like almost like walking into a museum, or Versailles Palace. It is just spectacular,” Spann says.
The Italian Renaissance home with a marble exterior was built by the architect Charles Gilbert for the retailer Frank Winfield Woolworth back in 1917. After decades under a variety of owners, Martin T. Carey bought the historic home in 1978.
Carey, an operatic tenor, founded the Brooklyn Opera Company and was the brother of Hugh Carey, the governor of New York from 1975-1982. The mansion remains in the Carey family today.
“It needs work, but it’s habitable,” Spann says. “We’re selling it for the estate of Martin T. Carey. Some of his heirs actually still stay at the house.”
It has 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, as well as plenty of entertaining space.
“I would love to see someone that has a passion to bring it back to its old grandeur,” Spann says. “It’s in the historic registry, so it can’t be torn down, thank goodness. It is a part of our history, and it’s utterly unique and beautiful.”
Thanks to its historic beauty, the home also has experience of being in the spotlight.
“This house is used a lot for commercials and film shoots. A portion of ‘The Greatest Showman,’ with Hugh Jackman, was filmed there,” Spann says. “With the CGI, it’s hard to tell, but you can see how they have utilized the house.”
Scenes from the TV series “Boardwalk Empire” and the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” were also shot at the mansion.
A fire struck parts of the home in 2015, but the damage has been repaired. However, there’s still plenty of work to do, beginning with the mansion’s infrastructure.
“The mechanicals are all are mostly needing to be updated. It has the old-fashioned kitchen, where a whole staff would prepare food and bring it up to you,” Ryan explains. “In some of the bathrooms, there are elements that you would want to keep, because they’re old, historic, and beautiful, and you just need to refurbish them. Others need to be totally redone. It’s basically bringing it all into the 21st century, but the bones are solid.”
Two buildings sit on the property. One is the main mansion, and the other is a clock tower building with 15,000 square feet of garage space and room for more than 11 cars.
Surrounding both structures are English gardens with statues and fountains, on the large parcel of land.
“It used to be much larger, and used to go all the way down to Long Island Sound and was sold off over time,” Spann explains. “It was magnificent in its day. Unfortunately, now all the shrubbery and everything is all overgrown.”
Although the property has recently been a single-family home, it had other uses prior to Carey’s purchase. Before he bought the mansion, it served as a charm school for ladies, called the Grace Downs Academy.
“The city of Glen Cove has indicated that they are receptive to all kinds of different uses,” Spann says. “We’ve had people that have looked at this to do like a kind of a high-end boutique type of hotel resort, and then develop the other portions into some sort of complementary residential.”
He says it would also make a good wedding venue or corporate retreat.
But whoever buys it needs to watch out for the possible ghosts. The estate also has a history of possible paranormal activity.
One of Woolworth’s daughters, Edna Woolworth Hutton, took her own life in 1917. Most reports say it happened at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, while her father was hosting a party in the home.
“At the same time that it happened, in the main hall, there is a beautiful marble fireplace with three images of women’s faces on it. The three were [Woolworth’s] daughters, and on the one that represented the daughter that passed, lightning struck,” Spann says. “When you go there, you’ll see there’s a crack through her face.”
If that ghost story doesn’t scare you off, bidding on the historic home is set to conclude on July 14.
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