Newsday Feature: Walk and Talk Architecture Tours

The Vanderbilt’s new Walk and Talk architecture tours were featured in Newsday on August 23.

Grand Tours

Take a Walk Through Luxury and History at LI’s Mansions

By Arlene Gross Special to Newsday
August 23, 2021

It may be 2021, but you’ll feel like you’re back in the Jazz Age on a tour of Eagle’s Nest, the mansion at the Vanderbilt Museum and summer home of William K. Vanderbilt II.

Vanessa Argumado from Roosevelt takes a photo of Melissa Hernandez from Hempstead on the grounds at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport
Photo by Morgan Campbell

The “Walk and Talk” tour explores how during Vanderbilt’s 34 years in Centerport, the mansion grew from a seven-room English cottage into a majestic 24-Spanish Revival mansion, designed by the renowned New York City architecture firm of Warren & Wetmore, says Killian Taylor, archives and records manager for the museum.

Jackie Hughes-Oliver, left, and Rod Hughes-Oliver from North Carolina take a photo in the gardens at the Vanderbilt Museum
Photo by Morgan Campbell

Visitors will take note of the handiwork done by 20th-century iron artisan Samuel Yellin.

“We have one of the largest concentrations of Samuel Yellin’s ironwork, probably in the country,” says Taylor. “You can see it everywhere from the grilles on the windows to the gates. When you can consider that all of those pieces were done by hand, hammer and chisel, the amount of detail that is apparent on them, is truly, truly spectacular.”

The tour introduces people to Vanderbilt’s life, family history, and passions, notably travel and collecting, says Beth Laxer-Limmer, associate director of education for the Vanderbilt. Visitors will learn about the collection’s whales, sharks, and other marine specimens and cultural artifacts, including an Egyptian mummy and preservation methods.

“Not only did he collect marine specimens and actual artifacts, but he brought a lot of ideas back and incorporated them into the design of his home,” says Laxer-Limmer.

Inside-out design in Oyster Bay
To get an up-close look at Coe Hall, the estate of W.R. and Mai Coe at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, check out a “Designing Nature Inside & Out” tour, where you’ll learn about their lives and the artists and architects who designed the home they occupied in the 1920s.

Coe Hall in Oyster Bay includes a beautiful park designed by the Olmsted Brothers
Photo by David Almeida

The one-hour tour takes you through Coe Hall’s main rooms and bedrooms, including the old breakfast room, with its floor-to-ceiling “Buffalo Mural,” by noted American artist Robert Winthrop Chanler, and the surrounding cloister garden, notes Meredith Brown, director of museum affairs and chief curator for the arboretum.

Visitors will learn that Coe Hall offered access to the outside from every room on the ground floor and specific landscape vistas were designed to be seen from the windows in each room.

“It was really about the entire integrated design and the idea that you could seamlessly move inside and outside and have this unified experience,” says Brown.
And, at other estates

Enter the gates at Old Westbury Gardens and tour the grounds
Photo by Daniel Brennan

Follow the house and garden tours on Old Westbury Gardens’ website as you ogle the collection of art and antiques at Westbury House, the country home of John and Margarita Phipps, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Guided tours resumed Aug. 20 and include for the first time the recently renovated service quarters, giving visitors a look at how the domestic help lived at this fabulous estate.

Then go outside and explore 200-plus acres of lawns, ponds, lakes, woodland, and formal gardens, including the reflecting pool, primrose path, lilac walk, and walled garden.

Try a monthly guided nature walk at Sands Point Preserve. On Sept. 11, the theme is “Heading South For Winter: The Season of Manifold Migratory Birds,” where you’ll explore the many species of birds who refuel at the preserve on their way south for winter, learn about what they feed on and try to identify them by listening to their calls and songs.

Or, download a self-guided tour from the website in advance and follow along on your cellphone to learn about the estate’s history, wildlife, or natural environments in tours that run along hiking trails, lawns, gardens, a freshwater pond, and beach.


Walk and Talk Tours at Vanderbilt Museum 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport; Thursdays through Saturday, noon and 1 p.m.; 631-854-5579; Adults, $16, Seniors/Students, $15; Children under 12: $13; Limited to 10 people per tour.

Designing Nature Inside & Out Planting Fields Arboretum,1395 Planting Fields Road, Oyster Bay; Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; 516-922-9210,; Adults, $10; Seniors 62+, $9; Children 11-17, $5; Kids 10 & under, free; plus an $8 parking fee for each vehicle.

Tours of Westbury House 71 Old Westbury Road, Old Westbury; 516-333 0048;; Open everyday day, except Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Self-guided tours: Adults, $14; Seniors/Students, $12; Children 7-17, $8; 6 and under, free; Guided tours: Adults, $20; Seniors/Students, $18, Children 7-17, $8, 6 and under, free. Reservations required.

Heading South for Winter … Nature Walk Sands Point Preserve, 127 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point; 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sept. 11. Also, self-guided history, native wildlife and natural environments tours Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 516-571-7901,; Guided Nature Walk: Adults, $15; Children, $5, includes parking; Self-guided tours: $10 for downloadable guide; Parking: $15.

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