For sale: Gatsby-style mansion in Sands Point

For sale: Gatsby-style mansion in Sands Point
Completed in 1928, 235 Middle Neck Road was constructed in the style of Gold Coast mansions that inspired the home of Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald classic novel The Great Gatsby. (Photo courtesy of Nava Mitnick)

Have you ever wanted to live like Jay Gatsby? For $16.88 million, you can purchase a Sands Point mansion that is similar to the homes that inspired the famous house in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” although wild parties are not included.

Located at 235 Middle Neck Road, the house has 13 bedrooms, nine bathrooms and almost 12,000 square feet of space. While it lacks the marble pool of Gatsby’s mansion, it does have a tennis court, a six-car garage, a four-bedroom beach cottage and almost 400 feet of sandy beach on Long Island Sound.

“The architecture is extraordinary … the ceilings are high, the rooms open up to sweeping views of the Sound,” Nava Mitnick, a real estate broker handling the property for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “It takes you to another place.”

The home was designed by the architecture firm McKim, Mead & White, which also designed the old Pennsylvania Station and the Brooklyn Museum, and helped to renovate the White House. The mansion was completed in 1928 for Mary Harriman Ramsey, the daughter of a railroad magnate and a friend of Fitzgerald’s.

Considering that “The Great Gatsby” was published in 1925, it is unlikely that this specific mansion served as the inspiration for Gatsby’s home. But the house was constructed in a chateau style – steeply sloped roofs, asymmetrical design – that was popular at the time for homes in Long Island, including the ones that did inspire Fitzgerald.

There is no house that stands as the singular inspiration for Jay Gatsby’s mansion; instead, the details were cobbled together from several Long Island mansions that Fitzgerald may have seen or visited in Sands Point, which was the inspiration for the old-money village of West Egg in the novel.

Perhaps the closet match to Gatsby’s estate was Beacon Towers, located about a quarter of a mile away from 235 Middle Neck Road. Beacon Towers was also done in the chateau style, although on an even grander scale: it had 140 rooms and, like Gatsby’s home in the book, a large tower on one side. Beacon Towers served as the primary inspiration for Gatsby’s mansion in Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 movie adaption, although the building itself had been torn down in 1945.

Although 235 Middle Neck Road has an exterior that has remained in the style of the 1920s, the interior is anything but old-fashioned. Investor James Mai and his wife, Chiara, purchased the home for $6.675 million in June 2011 and carried out extensive interior renovations.

“The kitchen was of the era when the house was built, so they completely redid that,” Mitnick said.

Harrison Design led the renovation efforts, completed in 2013. Among the new features installed were in-wall speakers, energy-efficient HVAC and a Lutron lighting system. This process also saw the restoration of some of the home’s older features, like the oak floors and ornate plaster ceilings.

Next year will mark 90 years since the mansion was built, but Mitnick said the building’s old-fashioned style is a big selling point.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” Fitzgerald wrote at the end of the novelPeople are drawn to the past, and sometimes, that past includes real estate.

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