SANDS POINT COUNTY PARK AND PRESERVE
95 Middleneck Road, Sands Point, Nassau County, NY
Nassau County Department of Recreation and Parks
209 acres


Geology:

It overlooks Long Island Sound at the mouth of Hempstead Harbor just north of Port Washington. It lies along the Harbor Hill glacial moraine that extends out along the North Shore.


History:

It is thought that F. Scott Fitzgerald in his famous book The Great Gatsby used Sands Point as Gatsby's West Egg.

There are two mansions here:

1) Hempstead House
The Howard Gould estate. He was the son of robber barron railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The castle was built in the gothic style after Ireland's Kilkenny Castle. In 1917 Daniel Guggenheim, a copper magnate, bought the mansion and named it Hempstead House.

2) Falaise
In 1923 the son of Daniel Guggenheim, Harry, took 90 acres of the estate of Hempstead House and create the Falaise estate. Charles Lindbergh visited his good friend Harry Guggenheim at Falaise after his famous solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean to France. Guggenheim and his wife, Alicia Patterson, found the Long Island newspaper Newsday. Part of the movie The Godfather was filmed here.

Nassau County Dept. of  Parks says:

Sands Point Preserve is more than just a nature preserve; in addition to protecting and interpreting Long Island’s natural habitats, Sands Point showcases an example of Long Island’s turn-of-the-century Gold Coast estate period. Built by railroad heir Howard Gould, the estate was fashioned after the grand estates of the European feudal period.

The evidence of the Old World is everywhere. The immense, turreted Castlegould (c. 1902), patterned after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle, was originally designed as an equestrian parade stable and carriage house.  Built of limestone from New York State, it currently houses the preserve visitor center, special exhibit halls, museum shop and snack bar. Across the Great Lawn stands the estates' main residence designed by noted architects Hunt and Hunt and constructed between 1910-1912. Named Hempstead House by second owner Daniel Guggenheim, the massive granite structure reflects architecture of the Tudor period. It is open for special events and scheduled guided tours of the main rooms and the Buten Collection of Wedgwood China.  The estate is best known from the period of ownership by Daniel and Florence Guggenheim. Daniel purchased the estate from Howard Gould in 1917, and in 1922, 90 acres were given to his son Harry. In addition to their extensive mining interests, the Guggenheims were instrumental in supporting the development of the fledgling American aeronautical industry. The Daniel Guggenheim land eventually was sold to the federal government who had a research facility, the Naval Training Devices Center, here from 1946-1967. In 1971, Nassau County acquired much of this acreage for development of the preserve and historic site you see today.

The 216-acre preserve, a passive-use outdoor recreation area, highlights the indigenous natural environment of the North Shore. Here, everything represents the lasting qualities of nature’s past: flacial boulders and sandy cliffs are remnants of the geologic deposits of the last Ice Age; the woodlands reflect the composition of the unbroken forest that blanketed the region when the first settlers arrived; individual specimens of trees, shrubs, and vines are representative of native and ornamental species which were first cultivated in the estate gardens of the early 20th century. The one-mile shoreline skirting Long Island Sound is an excellent field laboratory for the study of marine life. The Preserve features six nature trails, all of which are accessible during regular Preserve hours.

Also on the grounds of the Preserve is Falaise (c. 1923), the mansion the "Late" Captain Harry F. Guggenheim built adjacent to the estate of his father, Daniel. As mandated by Guggenheim’s will, Falaise has become part of the Nassau County Museum program to preserve and interpret Long Island’s historic heritage. An elegant, Normandy-style manor, Falaise is a vivid example of the American desire to transplant Medieval and Renaissance art and architectural fragments from Europe and incorporate them into elaborate design plans.

A fee is charged for admission to Falaise, Hempstead House, and special museum exhibits. Operating hours and programs vary according to season; please call ahead to verify.


Habitats:

a small pond; a mile of beach front


Trails:

In addition to the three buildings, you might want to explore the six short blazed nature trails, three of which are self-guided.

Sources: Geffen and Berglie, 1996: Chapter 3.


PLANT LIST:

Trees:
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Betula sp. (birch)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac)
Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple viburnum)

Vines:
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Herbs:
Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)
Polygonatum sp. (Solomon's seal)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)

Ferns:
Asplenium filix-femina (lady fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)