Oheka Castle Celebrates A Century Of Rich History

A regal beauty: Oheka Castle was built by architects Delano & Aldrich, one of the Gold Coast’s premier mansion builders, and landscape architects Olmsted Brothers, a firm established by Frederick Law Olmsted. (Photo source: Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Oheka Castle. It’s one of Long Island’s most treasured and historic gems. It is also hard to believe that the grand estate is 100 years old.

In 1919, financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn built Oheka Castle (Oheka being an acronym for his own name) in the middle of a 443-acre plot on the highest point on Long Island. The Cold Spring Harbor French-style château cost an estimated $11 million and is the second-largest private residence ever built in America, second to the Biltmore Estate historic house museum in Asheville, NC. During the Golden Age of the 1920s, Kahn, his wife Addie and their four children used the 109,000-square-foot, 127-room estate as a summer home where he would host lavish affairs and entertained royalty, heads of state and Hollywood stars.

When Kahn died in 1934, Oheka changed hands several times, having served as a retreat for New York sanitation workers as well as a government training school for Merchant Marine radio operators. In 1948, the Eastern Military Academy purchased Oheka, eliminating the beautiful gardens, subdivided the rooms and painted over the walls. Thirty years later, the school went bankrupt and was left abandoned, open to arsonous vandalism.

Otto Hermann Kahn and Addie Kahn (Source of photos: Oheka Facebook)

Fortunately, developer Gary Melius purchased Oheka in 1984 as well as the remaining 23 acres that surrounded the estate. At the time, it was considered the largest private residential renovation project in the country. It was then that Oheka began the painstaking process of restoration to its original castle grandeur. That meant using slate roof tiles sourced from the same Vermont quarry where Kahn had purchased the originals, replacing more than 222 windows and doors with custom-made duplicates and handcrafting the wrought-iron railing on the Grand Staircase, which took two months to be refinished. The formal gardens were recreated using original drawings from The Olmsted Brothers, resurrecting the eight reflecting pools and three fountains.

Well worth its $40 million in restoration, today, Oheka Castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest historic hotels across America, and Historic Hotels Worldwide, which is dedicated to promoting heritage and cultural travel to prestigious historic treasures. The castle has earned the reputation as one of the most recognized prestigious wedding venues in the world and has been the backdrop to many famous music, television, film and photo productions, from the making of the classic film Citizen Kane, TV’s Royal Pains and Succession to Taylor Swift’s music video “Blank Space,” as well as Liam Payne and Rita Ora’s “For You” music video for the film Fifty Shades Freed. And only naturally, Oheka Castle served as the inspiration for Jay Gatsby’s estate in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

The library is a highlight of the grand home. (Photo source: www.oheka.com)

Want to live like a king or queen for a few days? Make a reservation through one of the many hotel packages and stay in one of 32 guest rooms and suites like the Gatsby Suites, Fairbanks Suites, Carnegie Suite, Olmsted Suite or Whitney Room. Included in many of the packages is a hotel stay, a gift card towards a meal or drink at the restaurant and bar and a mansion tour. Top of the line amenities feature Molton Brown products and Frette linens in each room.

As for tours, to book a stay or for upcoming events, like tickets for the annual New Year’s Eve party, visit www.oheka.com or call 631-659-1400. Oheka Castle is located at 135 West Gate Dr., Huntington.

Jennifer Fauci
Jennifer Fauci is the former managing editor of Long Island Weekly, Anton Media Group's award-winning special sections and Anton’s local magazines. Her passion for literature, travel and the arts lend to the unique content in her publications. In her time at Anton, she has received first place in the Folio Awards, second place for the NYPA awards and is the recipient of six PCLI awards.

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