May 15 2017

Mystery Foto #19 Solved: An Aerial View of William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.‘s Eagle’s Nest Estate

This weekend's Mystery Foto was a unique view of a famous Long Island estate. Courtesy of the book Eagle's Nest-The William K. Vanderbilt II Estate by Stephanie Gress.

Mystery Foto questions:

  • Identify the estate, its owner and its location.

The Eagle's Nest Estate owned by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. in Centerport, New York.

  • Link the estate's owner to the Vanderbilt Cup Races and the Long Island Motor Parkway.

William K. Vanderbilt Jr. proposed the Vanderbilt Cup Races on Long Island, the donor of the Vanderbilt Cup trophy and, with his business associates, built the Long Island Motor Parkway.

  • What two sports were played at the estate?

The estate had a tennis court and a par-60 golf course designed by Devereux Emmet . Among Emmet's other Long Island golf courses were Bethpage State Park (Green), Cherry Valley Club, Engineers Country Club, Garden City Golf Club, Glen Head Country Club, Huntington Country Club and Eisenhower Park Golf Course (Red). As noted by Tom Hutchins, Willie K. also enjoyed yachting, sailing and fishing at his estate.

  • Which institution currently occupies the estate?

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum.

  • Which TBS series was recently filmed at the site?

Two episodes of the TBS series The Detour were filmed on the site in 2016. The Museum  was also used as the location for the film Nick and Nicky.

  • What is the approximate date of the aerial? Provide a rationale.

Sometime between 1922 and 1935 based on the absence of the Vanderbilt Seaplane Hangar and the presence of the Hall of Fishes. Best guess: Circa 1930.

Comments (15)

Congrats to Greg O., Michael LaBarbera, Dave Russo, Joe Osterle, Brian McCarthy, Art Kleiner, Tim Ivers, Ken Buettner, Thomas Carr, Tom Hutchins and Dick Gorman for identifying the William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.'s Eagle's Nest Estate.

Kudos to Art Kleiner and Tim Ivers for recognizing the absence of the Vanderbilt Seaplane Hangar in order to date the Mystery Foto.


Howard Kroplick


The Hall of Fishes can be seen in the Mystery Foto, dating the aerial after 1922.

Eagle's Nest's tennis court was taken down to make room for the planetarium.

Longer View

In the aerial, the Vanderbilt Hangar had not yet been built, dating the Mystery Foto before 1935.

Google Earth-Today

The  Vanderbilt Hangar, built in the mid-1930s, can be seen in the lower right corner. The Vanderbilt Museum planetarium (round brown dome) was built on the site of the tennis court.

The Vanderbilt Hangar as seen in the 1930s.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport, NY

The Vanderbilt Marine Museum (The Hall of Fishes) was recently renovated and re-opened in 2014. The flat roof was one of the tee locations for Willie K's golf course. The two tiers in front of the building were likely other tee locations for the hole.

Willie K. on his golf course with the Hall of Fishes in the background. Courtesy of Eagle's Nest-The William K. Vanderbilt II Estate by Stephanie Gress.

Sam Snead played the Eagle's Nest course on June 19, 1936. He shot a 57 on the par-60 course. Note: Each hole was named for one of Willie K's ships and several  were played more than once. Courtesy of Eagle's Nest-The William K. Vanderbilt II Estate by Stephanie Gress.

On Location: TBS Series- The Detour

In 2016, the Vanderbilt Museum played a Cuban estate in the TBS series The Detour.

The very blue Long Island Sound photoshopped in the background.

On Location: Film-"Nick and Nicky"

The Vanderbilt Museum was also the location for scenes for the film Nick and Nicky.


May 12 2017 Greg O. 12:56 AM

Identify the estate, its owner and its location.
Link the estate’s owner to the Vanderbilt Cup Races and the Long Island Motor Parkway.
-It’s Willie K’s Eagle’s Nest! I think that’s nuff’ said!

What two sports were played at the estate?
-I’m guessing tennis and the golf tee off the roof of the Hall Of Fishes!

Which institution currently occupies the estate?
-Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planitarium

Which TBS series was recently filmed at the site?
-An independent film-production company used the mansion and estate grounds recently for scenes in its mystery-romance Nick and Nicky, based on the screwball comedies of the 1930’s

What is the approximate date of the aerial? Provide a rationale.
-1938 Judging by all the additions up to the last for Vanderbilt’s son in ‘33.

May 12 2017 Michael LaBarbera 10:36 AM

Eagles Nest in Centerport Willy K II’s summer home. Looks like the 1920s because theres nothing else in sight. His garage has some of his private cars and lots of Motor Parkway pictures.  The dock had his yacht “Alva” but its not in the pic, so maybe he was sailing the 7 seas at the time.  Dont know what sports were played there but they put on some great concerts during the summertime and the TBS show i’ll guess its Nicky and Nicky, along with some commercial shoots.

May 12 2017 Dave Russo 12:11 PM

This is Willie K’s cribb in Centerport. AKA Idle Hour.

Love the old pics. Interesting to see all the tree lines that were there. Landscape architecture was really of equal importance to these guys as was the home architecture.

May 12 2017 Joe Oesterle 12:26 PM

Eagle Nest.  Centerport.  Willie K’s home.

May 13 2017 Dave Russo 3:26 PM

Eagles Nest….not Idle Hour. That is the “other” Vanderbilt Estate, formerly Dowling College. What’s up with that location anyway? Does anyone know? Now that Dowling is no more what is going to happen to that mansion?

May 14 2017 Brian D McCarthy 1:05 AM

Estate: Eagle’s Nest
Owner: William K Vanderbilt II
Location: 180 Little Neck Rd Centerport NY

He established the VCR’s, and built the LIMP ( along with many laborers )

Sports: Golf seems right, and there looks to be a tennis court where the Planetarium is now.

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum now occupies the estate. A comedy series titled ” Nick and Nicky” was recently filmed here. Eagle’s Nest was built between 1910-1936. The estate appears to be completed, so I’ll say it’s a 1936+ aerial. Is the farmfields on the opposite side of Little Neck Rd associated with the estate?

May 14 2017 Art Kleiner 7:48 AM

Would say its Willie K’s Eagle’s Nest estate in Centerport, LI.  Obvious connection to LI Motor Parkway and Vanderbilt Cup Races.  Appears that golf and tennis were played there.  Currenlty the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium.  Saw some mentions of a TBS series filmed there and to be shown in 2017, but as of yet have not been able to name it.  Would say photo is early to mid-1920s.  Possibly the estate’s seaplane hanger is not shown in the photo and would be the rationale fro the date.  Or just my eyes can’t make it out. 

Howard - any chance of getting a look a the hanger?

May 14 2017 Tim Ivers 11:42 AM

The Eagles Nest estate of Willie Vanderbilt in Centerport
He was the primary founder of the LIMP
The estate included a 9 hole golf course and tennis courts
It is currently the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
Scenes from the television series Nick & Nicky were shot there
Approximate date of aerial—-1928 since the seaplane hangar does
not seem to yet be in the picture

May 14 2017 Steve Lambert 2:51 PM

Vanderbilt museum complex in Centerport. Golf and Tennis.

May 14 2017 Steve Lambert 2:52 PM

Nope Dowling.

May 14 2017 wayne 6:38 PM

My answer to this weeks Mystery Friday Foto #19: A Famous Long Island Estate: It looks like “Laurelton Hall” the Tiffany Estate in Laural Hollow,  sports look like polo & golf.

May 15 2017 Ken Buettner 6:00 AM

I believe this is Eagle’s Nest, the William K. Vanderbilt estate in Centerport.  William Vanderbilt, and his Cup Races, are the reason the LIMP came to be - his money and his passion.  Both tennis and golf were played, with the first tee of the golf course on the roof of his personal “museum”.  It is currently occupied by the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium.  It was recently used for the filming of Nick and Nicky, but that was a movie, not the TBS series.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of the series.  The photo is certainly prior to 1970 when the planetarium was constructed, as it is not in the photo.  The golf course looks like it may be available for play, which probably makes it prior to 1950 when the natural history institution was established.

May 15 2017 thomas carr 12:10 PM

Estate is Eagle’s Nest. Owned by William K. Vanderbilt, the man behind the Vanderbilt Cup Races and the first president of the LI Motor Pky Corp. Located in Centerport along Little Neck Rd.  Golf and Tennis were played at the estate. Current home of Vanderbilt Museum.  Love the website Howard.  Best, Thomas Carr (author of the upcoming Arcadia book “Plainview-Old Bethpage”

May 15 2017 tom hutchins 1:06 PM

Eagles Nest owned by Suffolk County in Centerport over looking Northport Bay started in 1910 by William K Vanderbilt II
the seaplane hanger is not yet built so picture is probably before 1935 he died in 1944
golf was played, tennis also, yachting, sail boat races as well as fishing. He owned a large yacht of 264 ft

May 15 2017 Dick Gorman 8:00 PM

Mystery Foto# 19… This photo shows the William K. Vanderbilt mansion known as Eagle’s Nest. It is located in Centerport, NY. Willy K founded the Vanderbilt Cup races and built the LIMP. The sports played there might be Polo and Tennis??? The William K. Vanderbuilt Museum with the Planetarium currently occupies the estate. I believe that the TBS series recently filmed there is called “Nick and Nicky”.
Date unknown but it seems to be way back when crops were grown on the grounds.

May 15 2017 Greg O. 11:31 PM

Looking at the mystery photo again and I’m realizing I was mistaken and the memorial wing has yet to be built. I now certainly agree with the 1930 guess, but didn’t the memorial wing for Vanderbilt’s son pre-date the seaplane hangar by two years being built in 1933 and the hangar in ‘35?

May 16 2017 Brian D McCarthy 12:07 AM

My family and I visited here around 7 yrs ago ( Cub Scout Outing ). I think we LIMPERS should visit here as a group in the near future.

Howard and Al…. Do both of you still volunteer at the museum here?

May 16 2017 Al Velocci 7:52 PM

The golf course had only six holes. You went around three times. Some of the holes had alternative tee boxes giving the golfer a different look and yardages. In the 1990s there was a discussion about re-opening the course as a fund raiser. Al Velocci

May 17 2017 Brian D McCarthy 10:08 PM

Does anyone know if #185 Little Neck Rd ( Directly opposite side of the rd ) is/was associated with the Museum/Estate?

When viewing an aerial of this location, there’s a well paved path to the former Hangar. Is the hangar “open” for museum visitors? I don’t remember walking down there 7 yrs ago.

Howard Kroplick

Brian, it was part of the estate including a farm and the superintendent’s residence. The hangar has been abandoned for years and closed to the public.

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