By Samantha Koontz
Imagine waking up every morning in your 8,000 square foot mansion, walking down the plush, carpeted, spiral staircase, and looking out your window at the sparkling waters of the Huntington Harbor. For George McKesson Brown, a pharmaceutical industry giant, he made this dream into a reality. He built his estate, now known as Coindre Hall, in 1912, based on the designs of architect Clarence Luce.
Long Island's North Shore was known as the Gold Coast at this time. Many wealthy families fled the crowded atmosphere of Manhattan to enjoy the serenity of Long Island's North Shore, which boasted plenty of space, proximity to the water and gorgeous views. The area was known as the Gold Coast, because its occupants all had a considerable amount of money.
Frank Bandiero, who works in the estate commented, "Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? This place really maintains that feel."
When the stock market crashed in 1929, plunging the world into the Great Depression, Brown lost the estate. This marked the beginning of many ownership changes for this property. The estate has survived a near demolition, housed a boarding school, and now the property serves a variety of purposes and an eclectic array of guests.
Now a Suffolk County park, this estate is used in many interesting capacities. The house itself serves as a museum celebrating Long Island's Gold Coast era. Anyone interested in seeing the interior of the house can make an appointment. This beautiful space is also frequently rented out for events. Weddings are very popular, since the house includes a gorgeous "bridal suite." The estate also serves as office and studio space for the non-profit organization, Splashes of Hope.
This organization, operating mainly through the efforts of volunteers, paints mural for hospitals. They will paint on boards, or even directly on walls, to provide a little "Splash of Hope" for everyone. Bandiero, who works for the organization explains, "Our goal is to lessen the emotional stress that patients are going through. Typically, hospital patients are already under physical stress, and by providing relaxing stimulation, such as a painting, we can lessen their pain." The organization hopes to eliminate the drab, institution feel of hospitals by providing colorful, therapeutic art. Bandiero expressed immense gratitude for being able to work in such an inspiring atmosphere.
Another use of the property is the dog run out back. This huge, green field with a stunning view of the boathouse and Huntington Harbor is available to members of the community to play with their dogs, or to just hang out. Bandiero noted that the park, "Creates an open space in the middle of a highly residential area." When asked if he thought the community utilized this open space, he replied that he frequently sees people just hanging out on the steps and walking their dogs.
When asked if he enjoyed being able to come to Coindre Hall to walk his dog, Bruce Jonaitis exclaimed, "I love it, I use it everyday." He further elaborated, "They cut the grass, keep it neat, make it look good, I like to come here." Another Long Island resident, Frank Kroll, also expressed his appreciation of the dog park; however, he also shed light on some concerns.
He explains, "It's good that it's taken care of as opposed to 10-15 years ago when it wasn't maintained at all, but there are still problems." He explained that many teens use the parking lot out back to drink and smoke, leaving their cigarette butts, bottles and other trash littering the ground. Kroll said, "I see their trash every morning when I come, and I usually clean it up." He further stated, "As a dog owner, it bothers me that so much is blamed on the dogs. Teens can come around and throw their trash everywhere and nothing happens, but if the cops came right now, I would get a ticket because my dog isn't on a leash."
Despite some concerns, for the most part, this estate is a great part of the Suffolk County community. Two groundskeepers live in apartments within the house. They maintain the property and serve as the nighttime security. Their tireless efforts at keeping the grass cut and maintaining the serene beauty of the property, make this a wonderful place to get away from everyday life and relax.