Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Wings Revisited

Following yesterday's post on 'The Wings', the Charles Anderson Dana estate in Glen Cove, David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary has more...

"It so happens that I know a man named Charlie Dana who used to live around these parts, as did his father (who is the late husband of Norma Dana who has often graced these pages). So I emailed him and asked if he were a relative of this Mr. Dana who built the “The Wings” on an island in Glen Cove in 1875.

Charlie wrote back that the man who built the house was his great-uncle after whom his father and he were named. Mr. Dana was in the newspaper business in New York. He worked with Horace Greeley (“Go West Young Man”), the owner of the New York Tribune (which later merged with the Herald). Mr. Dana became the owner and editor of the New York Sun (which later merged with Pulitzer’s World and the Telegram). He was also one of the original supporters of the utopian community experiment, Brook Farm.

Mr. Dana also had a rich political life. He was assistant Secretary of War under Abraham Lincoln and was with Lincoln as he lay dying. Mr. Dana was also a big supporter of the now legendary Cuban liberator, Jose Marti.

According to the grand nephew Charlie Dana, Marti had the New York Sun as his bully pulpit. Marti also used, at great-uncle Mr. Dana’s urging, “the Glen Cove property to do ballistic tests for cannon balls off mounds (which are still there) that shot over Long Island Sound.” It was all part of an effort that the future liberator was making to invade Cuba, if need be, to eject the Spanish. This was while McKinley was President, before Teddy Roosevelt and the Spanish-American War.

Charlie Dana’s email epistle added about Marti – “the only Cuban that everybody seemed to like, even today." The Havana airport is named after him, exiles in Florida love him and so do both Castros. (Eds’ note: Marti was also the grandfather of the film actor Cesar Romero.)

Charlie Dana also wrote about The Wings: “On the island in Glen Cove, Dana brought stuffed in his suitcases and planted over 300 species of trees. The trees there are still unbelievable. The house got "grander" under Harkness and Morgan, but then burned back to more its original configuration. There was a story about 20 years ago in a Long Island newspaper citing C A Dana as Glen Cove's "most famous resident". The story line was that everybody thought it was the Morgans, but the author made the case for Dana!”

Many thanks to David Patrick Columbia for the additional details.  

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