Neha Patil (Editor)

Oheka Castle

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Covid-19
Area  23.2 acres (9.4 ha)
NRHP Reference #  04000996
Built  1914-19
Oheka Castle
Location  135 W. Gate Drive, Huntington, New York
Architect  Delano & Aldrich; Olmsted Brothers, et al.
Architectural style  Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Chateauesque

Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, is located on the North Shore of Long Island, in Huntington, New York. It was the country home of investment financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn and his family. The name Oheka is an acronym of its original owner's name Otto Hermann Kahn, which Kahn also used to name his yacht Oheka II and his ocean-front Villa Oheka in Palm Beach, Florida. The mansion was built by Kahn between 1914 and 1919, and is the second largest private home in the United States, comprising 127 rooms and over 109,000 square feet (10,100 m2), as originally configured.

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The castle is currently a historic hotel with 32 guest rooms and suites on the upper floors of the mansion, a popular wedding venue for socialites, celebrities, and dignitaries, and the backdrop to many photo shoots and Hollywood films. The estate also offers tours of the estate and gardens.

In 2004, Oheka was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Oheka Castle is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Early history

In 1905, a previous country home of Kahn's, Cedar Court in Morristown, New Jersey, was virtually destroyed by fire. In constructing Oheka, Kahn determined to build a fireproof building, so he had his architects, Delano and Aldrich, design the building out of steel and concrete, making it one of the first totally fireproof residential buildings. In constructing the home, two entire years were spent building an artificial hill on which to place it, giving it views of Cold Spring Hills and Cold Spring Harbor.

Kahn commissioned the Olmsted Brothers to design the estate's grounds, centered on a formal axial sunken garden in the French manner, of clipped greens and gravel in parterres and water terraces, screened by high clipped hedging from the entrance drive that ran parallel to the main axis. Other features of the 443-acre (1.79 km2) complex included an 18-hole golf course designed by golf architect Seth Raynor, one of the largest private greenhouse complexes in America, tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, a landing strip, orchards, and stables.

Several years after Kahn's death in 1934, the estate was sold. After the sale, it was used for several purposes, including as a retreat for New York City sanitation workers. In 1948, Eastern Military Academy purchased the castle and 23 acres (93,000 m2) of its property, bulldozed the gardens and subdivided the rooms. The school occupied the house until it closed in 1979. For the next four years, the building remained empty, during which time over 100 documented arson attempts occurred, all of which the building survived, demonstrating Kahn's success in building a fireproof building. In 1946 the golf course and stables became part of the Cold Spring Country Club, and the greenhouse complex operated as Otto Keil Florist. Much of the remainder of the property was developed into single-family homes.

Restoration

In 1984, Oheka was purchased by Gary Melius, a Long Island developer. Melius undertook the largest private residential renovation project in the United States to restore the house, which was in a state of almost total disrepair, and recreate the gardens from the original Olmsted plans. In 1988, unable to continue financing the massive project, Melius sold the property to Hideki Yokoi for $22.5 million. Ten years later, following a lawsuit, the building passed to one of Yokoi's daughters and her husband. They were unable to sustain the property themselves, so Melius reacquired it under a long-term lease and later re-purchased the estate, operating it as a weddings and events venue, luxury hotel and conference center.

Later history

Celebrities who have been married there include Kevin Jonas, Megyn Kelly, Joey Fatone and former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner.

On February 24, 2014, Melius survived a gunshot to the head by a masked gunman in the parking lot of the castle.

In popular culture

  • Film location for the movie Cruel Intentions.
  • Oheka served as partial inspiration for Gatsby's estate in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
  • In Dream World, his collection of songs, poems and stories, composer and musicologist Roger Lee Hall wrote about his years attending Eastern Military Academy at Oheka Castle in the 1950s.
  • In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, photographs of Oheka were used to portray the fictional Xanadu.
  • The castle is shown in the 2008 movie What Happens in Vegas, with stars Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.
  • It is Boris's mansion "Shadow Pond" on the television show Royal Pains, which ran from 2009 to 2016.
  • R&B singer Brandy's 1995 music video "Brokenhearted", directed by Hype Williams and featuring Wanya Morris, was filmed inside the castle.
  • Oheka was the set of the fictional Avalon Castle in the 2010 soap opera As the World Turns.
  • It was also shown in the 2010 film It's Kind of a Funny Story.
  • It was the location of a charity event in the television show Louie, where Jerry Seinfield and Louis C.K. performed for the event.
  • The castle was featured in the music video for Taylor Swift's 2014 song "Blank Space".
  • The castle was also used in the music video "Cookie" by recording artist R. Kelly.
  • The castle appeared briefly as the location of an economic summit in the 19th episode of the first season of American political drama Madam Secretary, titled "Spartan Figures".
  • The castle was featured on Travel Channel's "Mega Mansions" that also streams on Netflix. The premise of the show was to give viewers an "all-access pass inside America's most enormous, opulent and advanced Mega Mansions."
  • References

    Oheka Castle Wikipedia


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