And They Partied Themselves into the Ground

"Contrary to the image of high society, it was the fad of the day for lady guests to fling their lingerie to the winds as they passed the gates upon leaving. Local folk still recall seeing chauffeurs ceremoniously retrieving their ladies' undergarments in the wee hours of the morning."
- Monica Randall, on the parties that took place in early 20th century Long Island, New York.

Former tennis court adjoining the indoor swimming pool, Harrison Williams Estate, Long Island, NY.

Mosaic gold swimming pool at Pembroke, Long Island New York

W.C. Bird Estate Oval Room, height of its grandeur, Long Island, NY

W.C. Bird Estate Oval Room, after 20 years of neglect. Long Island, NY.

Scans and quotes from
The Mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast by Monica Randall, 1979.

A fantastic find at the thrift shop turned up these images of dilapidated grandeur, all taken in the once palatial homes of 1920s Long Island, New York (the setting for Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby) before they were demolished in the 60s and 70s. As you can see, many were abandoned and fell carelessly into ruin; there are stories of mansions being bulldozed with tiffany chandeliers still hanging from the ceiling.

That the parties were so overly decadent makes these images that much harder to stomach. Highlights includes the Kahn's yearly easter egg hunt where each egg held $1000.00 and Bradley Martin's "Come in the most expensive costume you can devise" party, given at the height of the depression, of course. And then there were the ducks that one mansion owner had a chauffeur personally deliver south for the winter, rather than have them fly, commenting, "...of course they can fly; thank God they don't have to."

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...