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
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
Queen Anne Salon
Smoking Room
Palm Garden
Tennis Court & Cloister Wing
The Second Floor
The Third Floor
Post Vanderbilt Years
Dowling College
Home > About Us > The First Mansion

The Mansion
Introduction - The First Mansion

Inspired by the tranquil setting, Vanderbilt named his estate Idle Hour. It was the stage for gala events, hunting parties and coaching outings. Throughout the year, the family traveled among their mansions at 660 Fifth Avenue, New York City, Newport, Rhode Island, and this estate on the banks of the Connetquot River. Idle Hour was the W.K. Vanderbilt country estate, a summer and holiday residence. Staff was employed all year long to maintain the grounds and interiors.

The original wooden Tudor style mansion was built in 1878. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, it was three stories with 60 rooms. The style was in keeping with the neighboring Bayard Cutting estate across the Connetquot River. During their years together, Alva and William K. had three children, Consuelo, William Kissam, Jr., and Harold. While family photographs reflect many cheerful days at Idle Hour, the marriage of William K. and Alva was not a happy one. In 1894, they separated and eventually divorced. Willie K. kept Idle Hour in the divorce settlement and Alva took Marble House in Newport. She married equestrian Oliver H. P. Belmont, a frequent visitor to Idle Hour in earlier years. In 1903, William K. married Mrs. Ann Harriman Rutherford Sands.

Oakdale served as a honeymoon destination for two of the children. Consuelo started her honeymoon at Idle Hour after an elaborate wedding on November 2, 1895 at St. Thomas' Church on Fifth Avenue. She married the Duke of Marlborough at 18 and later established her royal household at Blenheim Castle in England. The couple traveled to Oakdale by private train and were greeted by townspeople. (They were forced to walk to the estate because the train was early and no one was there to greet them.) William K., Jr., was on his honeymoon at Idle Hour with Virginia Fair on April 12, 1899 when the original mansion was consumed by fire. No one was injured.