During the mid to late 1800’s, this undeveloped shoreline became a hot getaway spot for wealthy New Yorkers and became a mecca for Victorian extravagance. These uber-rich-folk spent 50 years competing with each over over who had the biggest balls… ahem, ballrooms. John Jacob Astor IV was having “Beechwood” built when he decided to take a cruise. He was the wealthiest passenger on the Titanic and unfortunately, his wealth didn’t secure him a spot on the life boats.
Some of it’s more notable “vacationers” included Doris Duke, The Vanderbilts, The Astors, Edith Wharton, Eisenhower, JFK, and the notorious Von Bulows- of syringe- scandal fame.
Although all the mansions along the coast are jaw-dropping, I like to picture myself walking through the halls at Rosecliff. It was built by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a silver heiress from Nevada who fancied a summer home suitable for entertaining on a grand scale. After the house was completed in 1902, at a reported cost of $2.5 million, Mrs. Oelrichs hosted some extremely lavish parties including a “fairy tale” dinner and a party featuring Harry Houdini.