Eagle’s Nest is the summer home of William K. Vanderbilt II, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Eagle’s Nest was built initially in 1910 as a small English cottage. Over the next 30 years, the house grew into the sprawling 24 room Spanish-Revival mansion that is seen today.
Eagle’s Nest was designed by famed architects Warren and Wetmore, who took inspiration from the architecture of Spain and Northern Africa, and adorned with ironwork made by master craftsman Samuel Yellin. Unique among many mansions, Eagle’s Nest was not only built with living space for Mr. Vanderbilt and his family, but also museum space where Vanderbilt could showcase the thousands of natural history and cultural specimens he had collected from his travels.
The mansion’s Living Quarters offers an intimate look at the life of a privileged family from the Jazz Age through the Second World War. The rooms are as William and Rosamond Vanderbilt left them, filled with priceless art, furnishings, and personal possessions. When visitors walk through the Vanderbilt mansion, they enter a “living museum,” an enchanting time capsule of a vanished era.
The Living Quarters are viewable by tour only. For more information about tours, please visit our mansion tours page.
Mr. Vanderbilt’s oceanic expeditions and unprecedented circumnavigations of the globe make it possible for visitors to journey around the planet without leaving Long Island. His specimen-hunting trips to the Galápagos Islands, throughout the Pacific, Asia, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Atlantic and Caribbean, yielded thousands of specimens of marine, bird and insect life, some of them new discoveries at the time Vanderbilt found them.
Out of a desire to share his personal collection with others, Vanderbilt constructed several museum galleries across his estate. He would open these areas to community groups while he travelled abroad. Today, visitors can explore these spaces, see the exhibits developed by his private curator, and reflect on how museums have evolved since World War II. The historic exhibits and galleries are as follows:
Built in 1936, the Memorial Wing was Mr. Vanderbilt’s newest museum space on the estate. The Memorial Wing has three floors of exhibits, and here visitors can see hundreds of cultural artifacts from around the world. The wing also has over 1000 bird, mammal, and marine invertebrate specimens, and even antique cars and model ships.
The Habitat/Stoll Wing will transport visitors around the world. In the Habitat Room, built in 1920s, visitors can see animal dioramas of places all around as well as our 32-foot-long whale shark, the world’s largest taxidermized fish. In the Stoll Wing addition, built in 1970, visitors can see several large mammals on display, including many of the big cats and even a 900lb polar bear.
The Nursery Wing is in the former guest wing and nursery of the estate, dating to the 1920s. In this gallery, visitors will find a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy, as well as examples of fine European artwork. The wing also contains the Moroccan-style courtyard and Mr. Vanderbilt’s library, the largest room in the mansion.
The crown jewel of the estate, the Hall of Fishes was Mr. Vanderbilt’s public museum. This two-story building, from 1922, contains thousands of marine specimens from all over the world. See fish and marine life, whale skeletons, seashells, nautical artifacts, and even Mr. Vanderbilt’s own diving suit!