A Gold Coast Treasure Chest: Sands Point Preserves

Sands Point is a swanky, super-rich village in one of the little nooks of Lond Island’s North Shore, of Great Gatsby fame. From its many exquisite and luxury properties, one

Historical estate now accessible and open to the public stands out with its unique combination of vintage Gold Coast historical ambiance, serene natural beauty and unexpected little quirky surprises: Sands Point Preserve.

The 216 acre estate, once the property of three well-known American upper class families is neatly tucked away behind impressive iron gates. The grounds offer three special mansions, each unique and flamboyant in its own way.

Gould’s Castle, the somber, massive stone fortress-like building greets the visitor first. It is more surprising and imposing than beautiful with its robust walls built to evoke Norman castles of Medieval Europe. Built by Howard Gould, it ended up serving as a stable. Current-day visitors appreciate the cool and shadow its thick walls offer. It often houses small exhibitions. The ice cream truck lingers long in front ot if in the hot summer afternoons.

Hempstead House is on top of a hill, around a quarter of a mile away from the fortress. Its elegant back lawn could have hosted many fancy cocktail parties in its heyday, it offers sweeping views of the shoreline below. Hempstead evokes the solemnity and cool elegance of English aristocratic estates from the novels of the Eyre sisters. It is complete with gargoyles and intricate stone carvings and ornaments.

Falaise, the youngest mansion of the estate is hidden from sight, beyond and above the tender forests, accessible by scheduled shuttles, only. It is perched high above the beach as a nest, but it could just as well be located somewhere on the Mediterranean shoreline. Its French eclectic style, elaborate cobblestone courtyard, thick brick walls, whimsically pitched tiled roofs with the round tower awaken dreams and daydreams of French-Italian country estates and one can almost smell the aroma of basil and other noble herbs.

But the real special treats of the Preserve are hidden along its 6 nature trails and beyond them: in the balmy, green serenity of the oak forests and along the somewhat crummy beach. The forest hides the little stone bridge with the iron rails, a shaky, somewhat spooky old outer house, the pond swarming with turtles and ducks, dinosaur tracks, a creek and swamp with a tiny island that is a miniature version of Shrek’s estate. The looping trails will lead you to unexpected viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the Sound. One of the trails even serves as a health trail with outdoor gym equipment set up at regular checkpoints for the fun of kids and grown-ups.

The shoreline has its unique charm, although it cannot offer any luxurious beach experience. But it does has an exciting, crumbling seawall stubbornly holding up a heavily eroded till of clay and sand; the latter can offer endless hours of muddy-sandy fun for kids. Rugged rocks dot the shoreline, which is mainly sandy, seagulls and the occasional hawk circle above, horseshoe crabs float in the water. As the beach is fairly narrow on most of its ¾ mile length, the high and low tide can become very noticeable and the expansion and retreat of the cool waves will remain an experience to remember. Locals and visitors do brave the chilly sea in the summer heat for a relaxing swim, out into the open, still protected waters of the Sound. Turning back from the sea, they take in the view of the crumbling seawall, the sliding till, the moist green trees and the elegant silhouette of Hempstead House: Sands Point Preserve’s precious, little gifts.