The hilly North Shore of Long Island, overlooking the Long Island Sound and the mountains of Connecticut beyond, is the most beautiful part of Long Island. On the crest of a hill in the city of Glen Cove sits Killenworth, one of the most beautiful mansions in the country. Its residents have views of rolling lawns to the south and a panoramic expanse of blue water and hilly horizon to the north.
The mansion was once the home of George D. Pratt, son of Standard Oil magnate Charles Pratt. It was built in 1912, and later purchased by the Soviet Union in 1951. It is now home to the Russian Delegation to the United Nations.
Front of Killenworth Mansion
When George Pratt decided to build Killenworth, he invited his architects to stay on the plot of land for a summer so that they could become familiar with the land. This gave the architects the invaluable opportunity of studying and understanding the advantages and limitations of the land.
View to House from Swimming Pool
The stone used in the construction of the house is a seamfaced granite brought from Massachusetts. It is a warm grey color with a delightful texture rarely found in this kind of stone. The roof is a dull green slate laid in graduated courses and is thicker near the eaves and gutters. The home originally had 49 rooms.
View to Tea House From Swimming Pool
The 36 acre grounds were landscaped by the Olmstead Brothers, the sons of Frederick Law Olmstead, the man who designed Central Park. Immediately upon its completion, Killingworth was considered one of the finest houses ever built in America.
Swimming Pool in 1915
Killenworth was among the earliest houses in which the design and placement of the swimming pool was an integral part of the overall design. The gardens were landscaped to create a beautiful reflection in the pool for anyone looking down from the terrace.
Swimming Pool in 1918
The pool looked slightly different in 1918, with a new statue and flowers decorating the edges.
Leading to the Terrace
The landscaping at Killenworth was designed by the landscape architect, James L. Greenleaf, and was meant to complement the architecture.
Many of the plants were imported from other states, and the estate was known to have one of the finest gardens in the country. Country Life magazine named Killenworth the “Best Country House in the United States” in 1915.
The mansion was purchased by the Soviet Union from the Pratt family in 1951, and is used by Russia to this day as a vacation home for their delegation to the United Nations.
There have been accusations of the top floor being used to house spying equipment. In 2016, the U.S. State Department closed a similar Russian compound in Brookville, New York, but took no action on the Killenworth Mansion. Interior pictures of the mansion will have to wait for another day.
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