Harbor Hill, the magnificent Clarence Mackay Estate

Harbor Hill, the magnificent Clarence Mackay Estate
A computer recreation of Harbor Hill, the Gilded Age county home in Roslyn, New York (1902-1947)

On Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 pm, Roslyn Landmark Society will present a free Zoom lecture on Harbor Hill, the country estate of financier, Clarence H. Mackay.

The French-inspired Chateau measured 60,000 square feet and was located on 498 hilltop acres in Roslyn, New York. Designed by Gilded Age architect Stanford White and completed in 1902, it was the second-largest private residence in America at the time.

The lecture will be led by historian and author, Gary Lawrance, who will discuss the Mackay’s family life in the massive and lavishly decorated home. A highlight of the presentation will be Lawrance’s computer-generated 3D recreation of Harbor Hill’s elevations reimagined in spectacular color along with rarely seen interior photos of Harbor Hill courtesy of Bryant Library Local History Collection.

Mackay, who had inherited his father’s $100 million mining and telecommunication fortune (billions in today’s dollars), commissioned Stanford White as lead architect based on the recommendation of his wife, Katherine Duer Mackay. From a socially prominent New York family, Mrs. Mackay proved to be the perfect foil to the popular and enigmatic White, legendary partner of the venerable McKim, Mead & White.

The two engaged in frequent correspondence and meetings on design and construction, in addition to the acquisition of rare antiquities, fine European art and exquisite furnishings. Their epistolary relationship was legendary in terms its’ sheer volume and Mrs. Mackay’s demands, exacting detail, and sense of urgency.

Sadly, the Mackay’s marriage ended, and Harbor Hill was later demolished in 1947 to later make way for the housing development of Country Estates. During its brief existence, Harbor Hill was home to a wealthy and prominent family and played host to glittering parties with guests such as the Prince of Wales, aviator Charles Lindbergh, prominent politicians, and members of New York society.

The Mackay’s were held in high esteem amongst the people of Roslyn, and steadfastly supported its’ families especially the small children of the bustling village. Mrs. Mackay hosted a large annual picnic for local families on their hilltop estate which was an important social outing for the local townspeople. Mrs. Mackay also commissioned White to design Trinity Episcopal Church, while Mr. Mackay was a benefactor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, just around the corner of Trinity.

To register for this free Zoom Lecture, please follow this link, or visit roslynlandmarks.org or call (516) 625-4363.


About Gary Lawrance

Mr. Lawrance has an extensive background Gilded Age history and is co-author of the bestselling book, “Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930.”

He frequently lectures on Gilded Age architecture, landscapes, and society for historical, garden, preservation, and arts organizations. He also curates an annual symposium on the Gilded Age, held at Lyndhurst Castle in Tarrytown, New York and is vice-president of the American Country House Foundation based in New York.

He founded extremely popular Facebook and Instagram social media sites, Mansions of the Gilded Age and The Gilded Age Society with a combined following of over 400,000.

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