Old Westbury Gardens
The Phipps Family And Westbury Garden
Before the formal gardens at Old Westbury Gardens, there was a Quaker farm and the Phipps family. It all began with Henry Phipps Sr., born in England, and relocated to Pennsylvania, with his family in 1845. Henry’s son, Henry Phipps Jr., was a boyhood buddy of Andrew Carnegie, whose own mother helped tie Henry’s father’s shoes. The kids would often congregate in the shop to discuss their future plans.
The expanding riches of the Carnegie Steel Company which Henry was in partnership, realized his adolescent expectations. In 1881, they returned “in grandeur” to Carnegie’s boyhood home in Scotland, with Andrew’s mother sitting next to them to celebrate their accomplishment.
Henry got married to Annie Shaffer in 1870, and their eldest son, John Shaffer (Jay), was born in 1874.
Jay would eventually marry Margarita (Dita) Grace, of Grace Shipping Line family, after attending Yale and graduating from Harvard Law School. Following the sale of the Carnegie Steel in 1901, Henry resigned and entrusted the administration of the family funds to Jay in 1904. During this period, Jay authorized sketches of designs for a new residence on almost 200 acres he had just acquired on Westbury, Long Island, by London designer George Abraham Crawley.
Westbury House was built after their first child Ben was born, in 1904. The grounds and roadways were built out at the same time, and the gardens of Westbury Garden were planted.
Family Life In Westbury, Long Island, During The Golden Age Of Country Estates
In March of 1907, Jay and his family—Dita, Ben, 1-year-old Hubert, and infant Peggie—settled into the sprawling estate.
In 1910, with the arrival of Michael, life’s circle was finally closed.
With a girl and three boys, the family quickly outgrew their lovely new home. There were costume parties, sandboxes with roses covering them, swings, dogs and horses, log houses, and a half-timbered thatched house with bright flower borders. When their daughter turned 10, they gave her a little house as a gift. The house quickly became a popular place for kids’ gatherings. The youngest son, Michael, learned to play polo and eventually joined the United States Polo Team, which competed internationally because of the proximity of the polo grounds to the family home.
Life at the house was irrevocably altered towards the end of the 1950s when Dita and Jay both passed away within the span of a year. During her mother’s illness in June of 1956, Mrs. Etienne Boegner’s daughter “Peggie” (Mrs. Etienne Boegner) was overwhelmed by the thought that all of this beauty and the joy it brought the family would be gone forever. Thanks to the help of her husband and her brothers’ financial contributions, she was able to create Old Westbury Gardens, a place where visitors may experience a taste of the past while contributing to the development of the community for centuries to come.
The public was officially welcomed into Old Westbury Gardens in 1959, one of the last intact country mansions and most exquisite gardens from Long Island’s opulent estate era.
This home, which was once owned by John S. Phipps, Margarita, and their kids, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The amazing Charles II style residence was built in the year 1906 by English architect George Crawley and is surrounded by a few hundred acres of landscaped grounds that include lakes, ponds, woodlands, gardens, and well-kept lawns. The house of the family is filled with precious antiques plus decorative arts that date back over fifty years.
Today, Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island allows visitors tours of around the mansion, formal gardens, school visits, kid’s programs, events, family outings, museum exhibits, classical and pop concerts, lectures, workshops, and garden classes.
The property is made up of:
- Westbury House
- Linden Allee
- Walled Garden
- Rose Garden
- Lilac Walk
- Thatched Cottage
- West Pond
- Reflecting Pool
- South Allee
- East Lake
The property is located at 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury, NY 11568. It is open from April 1st through October 31st every day (except Tuesdays) from 10am to 6:00pm. The house itself will close from 1:00pm to 1:30pm.
General admission is $14, ages 62 and older is $12, students $12, children ages 7-17 $8, and children under age 6 are free. If you have a membership, entry is free. If you are interested in purchasing tickets, please visit the Admission Tickets page.
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
If you would like to know more about the homes in Old Westbury, NY
please reach out to: