Discovering the Charm of Old Westbury Gardens: A Timeless Long Island Treasure
Nestled in the heart of Long Island, Old Westbury Gardens is a captivating historic estate that transports visitors back to the Gilded Age. As the former home of financier John S. Phipps and his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps, this expansive property at 71 Old Westbury Road features Westbury House, beautiful formal gardens, and sprawling wooded paths. In this article, we will explore the exquisite charm of Old Westbury Gardens, its history, the events it hosts throughout the year, and its appearances in film and television.
The Elegant Estate: Westbury House
At the heart of Old Westbury Gardens lies Westbury House, a magnificent Charles II-style mansion designed by George A. Crawley and furnished with priceless antiques and decorative artwork. This opulent residence served as the Phipps family’s home for over fifty years, preserving a piece of the Gilded Age within its walls. The mansion features 23 rooms, each meticulously decorated to reflect the family’s residence during their time at the estate.
Visitors to Old Westbury Gardens can embark on guided tours of Westbury House to admire its grandeur and learn about the Phipps family’s history. Alternatively, a self-guided tour option allows guests to explore the estate at their own pace, taking in the stunning architectural details and lush grounds that surround the mansion. The tours often include highlights such as the exquisite painting of Mrs. Henry Phipps and Her Grandson Winston by John Singer Sargent, which hangs in the dining room.
Exploring the Beautiful Formal Gardens
Old Westbury Gardens boasts some of the most beautiful formal gardens in Long Island, meticulously designed by George A. Crawley. One of the highlights is the fragrant Rose Garden, where an ancient English stone sundial stands guard over the blooming roses. This garden was the first created by Crawley for the property, and it continues to delight visitors with its captivating beauty.
Margarita Grace Phipps’ favorite spot, the Lilac Walk, features over 250 lilacs of 30 varieties, offering a breathtaking display during the first two weeks of May. The sweeping lawns and wooded paths of the estate provide ample opportunities for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty and tranquility of Old Westbury Gardens. The picturesque Walled Garden, with its vibrant flower beds and charming fountains, is another must-see attraction within the estate.
In addition to the formal gardens, Old Westbury Gardens is also home to several environmentally threatened plant species, including green milkweed. The preservation of these rare plants is made possible through public-private partnerships and dedicated horticulture staff, who grow much of the herbaceous plant material on-site in the private greenhouse.
Events and Family Programs at Westbury Gardens
Throughout the year, Westbury Gardens hosts a diverse range of events and family programs, catering to various interests and providing a unique way for visitors to engage with the estate. From horticultural demonstrations and botanical arts classes to classic car shows and indoor and outdoor classical concerts, there is always something new and exciting happening at Westbury Gardens.
The Scottish Cultural Festival is a standout event that showcases Scottish heritage through traditional music, dance, and athletic competitions. Auto shows held at the estate offer car enthusiasts a chance to admire vintage and classic automobiles in a picturesque setting.
In addition to special events, Old Westbury Gardens offers family programs and educational opportunities to inspire appreciation for early 20th-century American country estates. From horticulture workshops to museum exhibitions, there is always something new to discover and learn at Westbury Gardens.
Old Westbury Gardens in Film and Television
The spectacular estate of Old Westbury Gardens has served as a backdrop for numerous films, such as North by Northwest, Love Story, and The Great Gatsby, as well as popular television shows like Gossip Girl, Royal Pains, and Pushing Daisies. Its timeless elegance and charm have made it a sought-after location for both the big and small screen, showcasing its stunning scenery and architecture to audiences worldwide.
In conclusion, Old Westbury Gardens is a true gem of Long Island, offering visitors a glimpse into the opulence of the Gilded Age and the chance to explore some of the most beautiful formal gardens in the region. With its rich history, captivating events, and stunning scenery, it is no wonder that Old Westbury Gardens continues to enchant and inspire visitors from near and far. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a gardener, or simply someone looking for a serene escape from the city, Old Westbury Gardens is the perfect destination for a memorable experience.
If you happen to visit this elegant estate and beautiful gardens in Nassau County, make sure to bring your camera.
Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury, NY 11568
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