A mansion’s former grandeur and its historic significance are often not enough to save it from deteriorating beyond repair, or from a date with the wrecking ball. Preservationists may rally and circulate petitions, but it often boils down to cost—not just to purchase a troubled estate, but to restore it.
Even when mansions of a certain age do have owners keen on preservation, the structures and their grounds have massive upkeep costs. For example, the owners of the circa-1896 Blauvelt Mansion in Oradell, NJ say it costs $100,000 a month to maintain, so they had to put their home on the market.
Steve Jobs didn’t see the worth in keeping his former Spanish colonial mansion in Woodside, California. After it stood abandoned for nearly a decade, and despite preservationist efforts, it was torn down in February. More recently, Land's End, the vacant 1902 Long Island mansion thought to be the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan’s home in The Great Gatsby, was torn down to make way for five McMansions.
The following structures, compiled using suggestions from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, have ties to tycoons, to the Carnegies, to the Titanic, to the Gilded Age. Although many are landmarks and make it onto lists of state and national historic places, they are still threatened by developers or simply the ravages of time.
By Colleen Kane
Posted 1 Apr 2011