Nestled in the heart of Nassau County, New York, Old Westbury Gardens stands as a testament to the grandeur and opulence of a bygone era. Once the private estate of businessman John Shaffer Phipps, an heir to the esteemed Phipps family fortune, this historic property has been transformed into a museum home, inviting visitors to step back in time and experience the charm of a bygone era. Located at 71 Old Westbury Road in the picturesque village of Old Westbury, the gardens have been open to the public since 1959, offering a glimpse into the rich history and architectural splendor of this iconic estate. Old Westbury Gardens traces its origins to the early 20th century when John Shaffer Phipps, a member of the prominent Phipps family, commissioned the renowned English designer George A. Crawley to create a landscape that would rival the grandeur of European estates.
The result was a masterpiece that seamlessly blended formal gardens, woodlands, and lakes, creating a harmonious and visually stunning environment. The estate’s centerpiece is the magnificent mansion, a Charles II-style mansion that exudes elegance and sophistication. The mansion, designed by the esteemed architect George A. Crawley, boasts intricate architectural details, sprawling gardens, and breathtaking views, making it a jewel in the Long Island landscape.
In 1959, Old Westbury Gardens transitioned from a private estate to a public treasure. Recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the property, the Phipps family opened the doors to the public, allowing visitors to explore the mansion, gardens, and surrounding grounds. The estate was transformed into a museum home, preserving its rich heritage for future generations. Visitors to Old Westbury Gardens can immerse themselves in the luxurious lifestyle of the early 20th century as they wander through the lavishly decorated rooms of the mansion. The interiors showcase period-specific furnishings, art collections, and artifacts, providing a glimpse into the lives of the Phipps family and the social elite of the time. Old Westbury Gardens offers a range of experiences for visitors, from guided tours of the mansion to leisurely strolls through the meticulously manicured gardens.
The formal gardens, inspired by the designs of European landscapes, feature terraces, fountains, and classical sculptures. The Phipps family’s passion for horticulture is evident in the vibrant displays of flowers and the diverse plant collections that grace the estate. The gardens are not only a feast for the eyes but also a haven for nature enthusiasts and photographers. The changing seasons bring new life to the estate, with blossoming flowers in spring, lush greenery in summer, and the vibrant hues of autumn foliage.
Old Westbury Gardens is open to the public from April through October, allowing visitors to experience the estate’s beauty in different seasons. Guided tours provide in-depth insights into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of the property. Special events, educational programs, and seasonal activities enhance the visitor experience, making Old Westbury Gardens a destination for history lovers, garden enthusiasts, and families alike. Old Westbury Gardens stands as a living testament to the legacy of John Shaffer Phipps and the Phipps family. The estate’s transformation from a private residence to a public museum home has allowed generations to appreciate its architectural splendor, historical significance, and natural beauty. Whether you are drawn to the elegance of the mansion, the tranquility of the gardens, or the rich history embedded in every corner, a visit to Old Westbury Gardens promises a journey through time, offering a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of a bygone era.