The Estate and Environs
  East Gate House
West Gate House
Stables and Coach House
Power House and Engineer's House
The Palm House
Toolhouse and Potting Shed
The Ice House
The Bowling Alley
Laundry
The Farm and Later Artist Colony
Vanderbilt Tea House
Oakdale Railroad Station
Other Buildings in Idle Hour
The Mansion
  The First Mansion
The Second Mansion
Entrance Hall
Dining Room
Living Hall
Library
Queen Anne Salon
Corridor
Smoking Room
Cloisters
Palm Garden
Tennis Court & Cloister Wing
Staircase
The Second Floor
The Third Floor
Basement
Post Vanderbilt Years
Dowling College
Home > About Us > The Estate and Environs


The Estate and Environs
Introduction

The country estates of the wealthy did not stand alone. They needed many types of support, so that it is customary that a mansion would have a variety of accessory buildings, each serving a particular need. Some of these buildings would be more obvious than others to visitors and guests.

This monograph centers upon the accessory buildings at "Idle Hour," William K. Vanderbilt's Oakdale estate. A search of available records leaves some confusion as to the person or persons who were responsible for the design of each building. Paul R. Baker's biography of Richard Morris Hunt, often referred to as "the Vanderbilt architect," states, "Hunt added to the mansion itself as well as designing numerous dependencies to the estate, including a gardener's cottage, greenhouses, stables, and an entrance gate and two gate houses." Most of these buildings were constructed between 1880 and 1890. Some of the later buildings were designed by the son of the original architect, Richard Howland Hunt, who carried on the Hunt architectural firm after his father's death, and designed the second mansion, erected after the first burned in 1899. The name of a prominent Sayville architect, Isaac H. Green, also is mentioned as architect in some accounts of the various dependencies.

Thee structures have been deemed highly desirable as homes, due to their historical connections, their architectural qualities, and to the pastoral atmosphere of the Idle Hour surroundings. It is fortunate that all these buildings are in excellent condition today, having been converted to residential use at an early stage. This is true even for the buildings originally designed for animal quarters; the "Artist Colony" today was the Vanderbilt farm at the turn of the last century, and its colorful past will be related here, also.

In addition to the farm area, the Vanderbilt estate included such buildings enjoyed by the Vanderbilt guests as the coach house, the palm house, the bowling alley, the tea house, the railroad station, and the two gate houses. Support buildings included the power house, the toolhouse and potting shed, the ice house, the workmen's boarding house, the pottery, the orchard house, and the laundry.

The past history of each of these buildings will be described, along with its use today, and illustrated by sketches and photographs.

And it's on to our tour!