Old Country Rd, Westbury, NY 11590

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The Timeless Elegance of Old Westbury Gardens

Nestled within the heart of Long Island is a hidden gem that resonates with history, nature, and architectural magnificence: The Old Westbury Gardens. It’s not just any garden; it’s a testament to love, promise, and the enduring legacy of the American Gilded Age.

Originally a private haven for the Phipps family, it transitioned into a public attraction in the 1950s, enchanting visitors with its rich heritage and botanical wonders.

The History of Old Westbury Gardens

The foundation of Old Westbury Gardens is deeply intertwined with a love story. John Shaffer Phipps, heir to the U.S. Steel fortune, promised his fiancée, Margarita Grace of the Grace shipping family, that he would build her a home in the United States that would remind her of her native England.

In 1903, Phipps commissioned English designer George A. Crawley to build Westbury House to fulfill his promise. The 70-room Charles II-style mansion became the centerpiece of the estate. Crawley’s meticulous design, combined with the grandeur of the mansion, led to a perfect blend of English architecture and the luxury of America’s Gold Coast era.

But a house isn’t a home without its surroundings, and the grounds of the Westbury House were no afterthought. The landscaped gardens were designed with the utmost care to complement the house. Spanning over 200 acres, the gardens were carefully planned to offer varied experiences, from the more formal designs to the tranquil waters of the lakes and ponds. Each section was crafted to showcase a specific theme or plant variety, becoming living exhibits of horticultural beauty.

For many years, the estate served as a private family residence. However, the Phipps family, understanding the cultural and historical importance of their home and its surroundings, decided to open it to the public. In the 1950s, Peggy Phipps Boegner, one of John and Margarita’s four children, converted the estate into a public institution. She intended to ensure that future generations could experience and appreciate the marvel her family had built.

An interesting snippet from the estate’s history relates to the World Wars. During World War I and II, John Shaffer Phipps made a considerable contribution by opening his home to wounded soldiers and offering them a place to heal. This gesture is a testament to the estate’s not just being a place of beauty but also one of heart and compassion.

Today, Old Westbury Gardens stands as a testament to early 20th-century luxury, the love story of John and Margarita, and the vision of their descendants. It remains a prime example of the Gold Coast era, with preservation efforts ensuring that the mansion and the gardens retain their original charm. Educational programs and guided tours offer insights into this remarkable estate’s history, design, and natural beauty.

Old Westbury Gardens: A Calendar of Events

One of the standout features of Old Westbury Gardens is its dynamic calendar. Throughout the year, the gardens come alive with events that cater to a diverse audience. Whether it’s the lilting notes of summer concerts, intriguing historical tours that delve into the Phipps family legacy, or workshops where children can embrace nature, there’s always something happening. And let’s not forget the seasonal festivities. From Halloween haunts to Yuletide celebrations, Old Westbury ensures its legacy is not just historical but vibrantly contemporary.

The 2023 Calendar of Events at Old Westbury Gardens:

  1. Tiny Gardeners Program (Oct 2 to Nov 6): A program for children ages 2-3 and their caregivers to learn through play with natural outdoor themes.
  2. Secrets of the Service Wing Tour (Oct 8): Discover the “secrets of the service wing” of Westbury House.
  3. Old Westbury Gardens Open on Columbus Day (Oct 9): The gardens are open for visitors on Columbus Day​​.

Planning Your Visit: Tips and Tricks

If you’re considering a trip to this Long Island marvel, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, check the hours of operation, as they can vary seasonally. While there’s an admission fee, memberships offer unlimited visits and many other benefits. First-time visitors should wear comfortable footwear, as there’s much to explore. And if you’re a photography enthusiast, remember to respect restricted areas.

Old Westbury Gardens Admission

Old Westbury Gardens is open to the public. Still, there may be specific days or times when it’s closed for private events or due to seasonal adjustments. Purchasing or reserving tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons or special events, is recommended.

Open Hours

The hours can vary based on the season and specific events. Generally, they might open around 10:00 AM and close around 5:00 PM, but this can change.

It’s common for gardens to have extended hours on certain days or during special events. Additionally, they might have shorter hours or be closed altogether during the off-season or for maintenance.

Ticket Prices

Ticket prices vary based on age, membership status, and event specifics.

  • Adults: $12 – $15
  • Over 62 (Senior Citizens): $10
  • Children (ages 7-17): $7
  • Children (6 and under): Free
  • Members: Free

Group rates and school tours often have separate pricing. There might also be discounts for active-duty military.

Old Westbury Gardens Parking Fee

Typically, parking is included in the admission fee, so parking isn’t a separate charge. The gardens have on-site parking lots. However, parking can get crowded during special events or peak days, so arriving early or using alternative transportation might be advisable.

Engaging in conservation efforts, educational partnerships with schools, and collaborations with local organizations, Old Westbury Gardens is a pivotal community member.

It also provides a beautiful backdrop for private events, hosting weddings, photoshoots, and more, bolstering local businesses.

If you ever feel déjàvu while wandering the gardens, it’s probably because Old Westbury has graced the screens multiple times! From classic films to modern TV series, its iconic landscapes and majestic mansions have become a favorite among directors and producers.

Old Westbury Gardens is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a piece of living history, a botanical masterpiece, and a community pillar. Its timeless charm beckons visitors from near and far, urging them to step back in time, breathe in the beauty, and leave with memories that last a lifetime.

Kimberly

Written by

Kimberly

Hi! I'm the Editor in Chief at the CANZ. I oversee all articles published by our writers and even write some of me own! In my free time, I love to try new restaurants, hang with friends and go on walks. I am always down to catch an amazing view of the sun or the stars!