Monday, July 29, 2013


'Inisfada', the Nicholas Frederic Brady estate designed by John Torrey Windrim c. 1919 in North Hills. Click HERE for more on 'Inisfada' which was recently put up for sale and possibly headed for demolition.  Click HERE to see 'Inisfada' on bing.  Photo from the Aiglon Archive.  Okay...have at it.


Tyngsboro said...

One of the most impressive, in days gone by ~ and look at the surrounding countryside. SIGH !

The Ancient said...

I've been reading up on the life and times of Marvin Natiss.

On the North Hills history page, I found this gem:

"[Shelter Rock] is the largest glacial boulder on Long Island. It is about 54' x 40' x 16' in size. It weighs about 2600 tons. By the end of World War 1, it was the most photographed rock formation in the United States. Located on the John Hay Whitney property, there have been many legends told of this rock. One time known as Millstone Rock, children were told tales of Billy the Kidd's treasure being buried there."

The Ancient said...


"Natiss, 76, is widely respected among his peers in other municipalities and has served four years as president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association.

"But his proudest accomplishment in public life is the low tax rate he has worked to maintain in their village of 5,500 residents.

"'I still have the lowest tax rate of the 64 villages in the county,' he said.

"He said that a resident paying $20,000 in property taxes annually is only paying approximately $3 in village taxes.

"Part of that is due to the unique nature of the Village of North Hills. With the exception of 100 private residences in the village, its boundaries include a roster of gated communities that maintain their own sanitation services and roads."

The Down East Dilettante said...

'Billy the Kidd's treasure'

hahahahahaaha (*wipes away tears of laughter*) ahahahahaah!!!!!

One looks at that photo, and all that open space, and one realizes that we are not making the world a more beautiful place.

Kellsboro Jack said...

Armchair interjection from someone not putting up $30M+ to acquire let alone 'develop' ... but converting this to luxury condos would be a win-win.

Something akin to John Russel Pope designed The Waves in Newport.

The exterior is preserved tastefully, a premium extracted per sq foot, the ground are largely saved on a community basis, plenty of tax revenue for the town, and the mansion is saved in tact as best as possible.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Except that The Waves is on ocean frontage, and Inisfada sits surrounded by semi-detached ranch houses

Zach L. said...

In case anyone from the Village of North Hills happens to see this:

Two very different people from two very different time periods.

Anonymous said...

while comments have been made on this blog as to the architectural merits of this house, as someone who has been in the house a dozen times over the last five year or so i can attest that the building has been well maintained by the Jesuits in residence. They clearly loved the house for what it is. The grounds have suffered but only because nature was gradually reasserting itself, a form of begnin neglect by those in residence. The provicinal order of Jesuits which ordered the sale were simply selling to the highest bidder, no sentimentality about it. The village is ultimately at fault, maintaining a passive, if not active hositility to any sort of "institutional use" - just ask the sisters operating the Montessori school on Dorrword (Our Lady of Grace Montessori school). A Christmas tree sale routinely brings compliants, if not notices of violation on the basis of complaints lodged by surrounding homeowners (who incidentially arrived many years after the school opened). Also, contrary to other posts, Inisfada was not permitted to be used for weddings, etc. While there is truth to the claim that nearby Catholic churches did not want weddings performed there (these rules were based on the primacy of parish life to the Catholic faith, not some competitive threat), the real reason that Inisfada failed to attract use for weddings, etc. were the rules imposed by the Village which did not want the property used as a "catering hall". It is a spectacular loss for Long Island in general but for Manhasset in particular. The Jesuits were not secretive about their intentions to close the house and sell the land and those that now arise in protest were sleeping through the noise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Zack for the Inisfada post today. For important news links and additional information on Inisfada see yesterday's post on Woodside.

Anon 12:30 the interiors are incredibly well maintained making the potential demolition an unthinkable outcome. The building is perfectly preserved after decades of thoughtful maintenance. The NYMBY's of North Hills are indeed at fault for constant complaining about petty issues here and elsewhere while all of them arrived long after the Retreat House was operating. Also the village elders are a close-minded group of individuals as anyone could ever meet or deal with.
However, the Retreat House operators stated the severe restrictions imposed by the church were based on other facilities losing the "right" to hold wedding services which would have hurt the revenues at those locations competing with Inisfada's chapel. Call it parish protocol if you want but it ultimately came down to money being lost by full service churches if Inisfada were to hold weddings and other events. I have been at 2 retreats there over the years and the occupants/caretakers of the mansion were basically dictated to by higher church authorities on how they should operate. They had fewer complaints as to the village's restrictions and could have held more events there if permitted. While it's true the jesuits were not secretive about selling they caught many off guard as they told them and explained to me many times that "they" would do what was best for the mansion and would first look for a buyer that wanted to preserve the building they loved so much. Those magnanimous intentions flew out the window when the very secretive Reverend Vincent Cooke took hold of the real estate transaction and showed his true colors. Dont blame the well intentioned protests for sleeping when the mayor's main source of pride in his village is not it's natural beauty or it's historic fabric but its low village tax base. As a resident of Strathmore, the loss of the retreat house would be a slap in the face from both the Jesuits and the Village of North Hills. Nyarch

The Ancient said...

I'm not excusing him, or even saying it's an extenuating circumstance, but consolidating three different Jesuit provinces (New England, Maryland, New York) must be an administrative nightmare -- logistically, financially, in every possible way.

Anonymous said...

A really wonderful photo of an impressively rural Long Island landscape.

Kellsboro there are surprisingly a number of mansion conversions already on Long Island, some done very successfully retaining much of the building interiors and others done not so well.

A few multi-residential properties include the James Breese mansion, the Orchasrd in Southampton, Mayhasit, in Glen Cove and the Louise Grace mansion in Roslyn, all 3 surrounded by attached townhouses/condos. The Arnold mansion in West Islip was divided into high end apartments. All it takes is a preservation minded, developer who chooses to work with the existing asset on the property instead of trying to remove it from his subdivision scheme. Hopefully the buyer of Inisfada will see that working with the mansion will result in a unique development rather than a cookie cutter subdivision that could be built anywhere. Archibuff

No comment on the Rev Vincent Cooke