From the late 1870s until the World War II years, well over 1,000 estates were built across Nassau and Suffolk counties, thoroughly reshaping the lives of wealthy and working-class residents alike. These palaces and properties of diverse design represented the country’s best achievements in architecture, interior decorating, and landscape design. Gilding the Coasts: The Art & Design of Long Island’s Great Estates will explore the collaborative efforts, fertile creativity, and innovative work that were critical ingredients forging Long Island’s great estates.
The exhibition will emphasize artistic production, in both the significant path-breaking work that was done on estates by a wide array of artisans, and in the art that was commissioned and inspired by the great estate movement itself. Artifact-rich case studies of specific Long Island estates will include architect Stanford White’s house Box Hill, in St. James; artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany’s magnificent Laurelton Hall, in Cold Spring Harbor; and muralist and canvas painter William de Leftwich Dodge’s Villa Francesca, in Setauket. In each instance, these residences moved beyond their use as country home retreats for restful entertaining. From their conception to their meticulous design, construction, and eventual daily use, these were fascinating working laboratories that facilitated the extension of their owner’s innovative artistic legacies.