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Glen Cove’s Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall

by Cheer Pick
Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall

More than a century after its original construction, one of the largest houses on Long Island’s Gold Coast has lately found new owners.

Winfield Hall, also known as the Woolworth Mansion for its illustrious first owner, founder of the five-and-dime retail chain, Frank Woolworth, sold for an astronomical $8.25 million, a price that may not accurately reflect the many benefits the historic house offers.

Margaret Trautmann, the listing agent who brokered the sale, claims that in her 31 years of working in real estate, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” And it’s quite unlikely that many of us have.

The Woolworth Mansion, which dates to the 1920s, is a working example of history that captures the opulence of the Roaring Twenties and the world of the affluent family that served as the basis for The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (in fact, the home that Fitzgerald based the Gatsby estate on is less than 30 minutes away).

Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall
Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

Within the walls of Winfield Hall, whose majestic interiors are covered in marble, that past is very much alive and thriving.Martin T. Carey, the late New York governor Hugh Carey’s brother, has held the home for the last few decades., pub-1975398499445207, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

Carey, a wealthy businessman who gained his money in the oil industry, was a fervent supporter of the preservation of Gilded Age mansions and bought numerous houses in Long Island and Newport, Rhode Island, to renovate and restore to their former splendor.

Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall
The grounds of the Woolworth estate in Long Island. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

Margaret Trautmann, however, asserts that Windfield Hall was always his preferred choice.

The property has been represented by Trautmann since 2002, when Carey first attempted to sell it on the open market. “A house like this, it’s very flattering,” says Trautmann.

However, there is a small pool of buyers who can value, manage, or afford a home like the former Woolworth estate. Thus, despite a few bids over the years and the fact that the opulent house undoubtedly attracted interest, none of them convinced Martin T. Carey to sell his valuable property.

Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall
Inside Winfield Hall, the Woolworth mansion in Glen Cove. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

After Carey passed away in 2020, his daughter Denise Carey Bettencourt received the Glen Cove estate. In June 2021, she even tried to sell it at auction. Since there was no taker during the auction, Winfield Hall was ultimately sold the conventional way.The Woolworth estate was sold on February 16, 2022, for $8.25 million in a deal that was finalized. Denise Carey Bettencourt, the seller, was represented by Margaret Trautmann. The identity of the buyer has not been made public.

The past of Glen Cove’s gem, Woolworth Mansion

The property was first bought in 1914 by Frank Winfield Woolworth, a pioneering retailer who established the “five and dimes” variety stores and expanded his business into a global retail behemoth.

Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall
Inside Winfield Hall, the Woolworth mansion in Glen Cove. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

On the estate’s grounds at the time, there was another mansion that Woolworth intended to replace. He had to act quickly because the Humphreys Estate burned down not long after the retail giant acquired it.

On the vast 16-acre property, the new stately estate started to take shape by 1916.The 30,000-square-foot mansion was given the middle name of Mr. Woolworth and given the name Winfield Hall. The Woolworth Building, a 792-foot tower he constructed in Manhattan, had already claimed his last name.

There is also a 17,000 square foot carriage house on the Woolworth estate, making the total amount of living space on the site astounding 47,000 square feet. However, the main House, which is extremely opulent, was not the only building on the Woolworth estate.

Glen Cove's Historic Woolworth Mansion: Winfield Hall
Winfield Hall, the Woolworth mansion in Glen Cove. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

Frank Woolworth didn’t get to dwell in the grand mansion he had constructed for himself for very long.He passed away in 1919, five days before turning 67, and the house sat unoccupied for several years until the subsequent residents came in.

Later, the R.S. Reynolds Metal Company founder Richard S. Reynolds’ wife bought it in 1929. According to rumors, the Reynolds family created their renowned cigarette foil wrap on the estate’s grounds, with the carriage house serving as the lab where the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco wrap was developed.

The 17,000 sq. ft. carriage house on the property. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

The former Woolworth estate was converted into the Grace Downs Academy, a business school for young women, after Reynolds’ tenure, according to Wikipedia. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the property, which later came to be known as Glamour Manor because of the numerous attractive women who frequented its halls.

The property was bought by Martin T. Carey in 1978, and his family held it until it was recently sold.

Winfield Hall’s marble-clad interiors

Woolworth put as much marble as he could into the walls of Winfield Hall to reduce its vulnerability to fire damage after the original mansion was completely destroyed in a fire.

There were marble pillars, walls, and an enormous grand staircase included in that. The great staircase alone cost two million dollars, while the full Woolworth home ended up costing nine million dollars.

According to Untapped Cities, Woolworth would have spent the equivalent of $48.5 million in today’s money for the $2 million it cost to create the staircase prior to the 1920s.

Of fact, the marble didn’t make Winfield Hall fully fireproof, as a subsequent event would demonstrate; in 2015, another fire broke out, damaging woodwork and furniture worth millions of dollars.However, due of how the mansion was constructed, the fire was contained to the affected rooms and did not spread to other parts of the residence.

Additional distinguishing features of the historic mansion include a bedroom that was designed to be an exact replica of Napoleon Bonaparte’s quarters at the Château de Malmaison (Woolworth even furnished it with a bed once owned by Napoleon), a marble replica of the Arc de Triomphe, and ceilings that are so elaborate and opulent that they would make the Vatican weak with envy.

In her 2014 “Blank Space” music video, Taylor Swift used Woolworth Mansion.So, if something about Winfield Hall seems strangely familiar, it could well be that you’ve seen some of it before.

The dining room of Winfield Hall, the Woolworth mansion in Glen Cove. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

One of Taylor Swift’s most recognizable music videos, 2014’s Blank Space, included shots of the dining room, the main hall, and the marble fireplace.Although all of the outside images were made at the neighboring Oheka Castle, a significant portion of the video was shot inside the Woolworth Mansion in Glen Cove.

According to the Woolworth Mansion’s own IMDb page, it also made an appearance in the HBO smash Boardwalk Empire. Woolworth Mansion also made its television premiere in the Kate Winslet-starring drama miniseries Mildred Pierce.

The Woolworth Estate’s history of paranormal activity

Winfield Hall has a history of alleged hauntings, just like many of America’s largest houses.

Edna Woolworth, the middle daughter of Frank Woolworth, committed suicide on the evening of May 2, 1917, and her narrative is at the center of many of the stories.

The family crest, which featured the painted faces of her father’s three daughters, reportedly cracked exactly where Edna’s face was located on the night she passed away at The Plaza Hotel in New York City while her father was hosting a party at Winfield Hall. The rest of the crest, it is said, remained intact.

The ball room of Winfield Hall. Photo courtesy of Margaret Trautmann, COMPASS

Since then, there have been reports of weird noises coming from Winfield Hall, as well as sightings of a wandering “spirit” or a young woman’s ghost “haunting” the gardens.

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