Earlier this month, an old mansion that is believed to have been the inspiration behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic literary portrayal of the opulent Jazz Age The Great Gatsby, was razed to the ground. The 25-room mansion, known as Land’s End, was emblematic of the famed Gold Coast on Long Island.
“This [area] represented the epitome of everything you could strive for, everything you could want,” explains Ruth Prigozy, Executive Director of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society. “You had optimism. You had a sense of what America was. The possibility of America. And you had it embedded in one place.”
According to literary legend, Fitzgerald would sit at night on the porch of his house in Great Neck, and stare across the bay at the Land’s End mansion, contemplating the themes that would form Gatsby, a novel which does a better job than most of honestly exploring the promises and perils of the American Dream.
“The home was one of the few remaining relics harkening back to Fitzgerald’s time on Long Island,” Serena Altschul reports for CBS Sunday Morning.
Before its destruction was completed, the mansion was visited by author, blogger, and hesitant trespasser Christine Lee Zilka, who wrote an outstanding post about her excursion. “Even if razed to the ground, it would mean something to stand on the site,” Zilka admits. “What remained were two very large chimneys, and a small vertical section of the house, also containing two chimneys, still standing.”
What is contained amidst eroding mansions and empty bottles of gin long ago decayed? What is lost in the bittersweet passage of time?
The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, a few years before the Great Depression. Many have noted that today’s levels of economic inequality haven’t been seen since those opulent years memorialized by Fitzgerald.
In this way, the dilapidated Land’s End Mansion stood as a cautionary reminder of the limitations experienced in the excessive opulence of that raucous other era.
But now the house is gone. Leveled to the ground. Five homes, making up the gated community “Sea Gate at Sands Point,” are to be built in its place.
But “the ghost of the house remains,” assures Zilka. “It was large and looming.”
Hopefully, we will not be haunted by its passing.