The Mackay Estate Gate Lodge in East Hills, a historical structure completed in 1902, had its deed transferred to the village earlier this month, according to village officials.
Designed in 1899 by Sanford White, part of the prominent McKim, Mead and White architectural firm, the gate lodge represented the entrance to Clarence Mackay’s Harbor Hill estate.
The estate was active until Mackay’s death in 1937. The only remnants of the estate’s 648-acre property are the gate lodge, a water tower, the dairyman’s cottage, the John Mackay III house at 2A Melby Lane and the two Marly Horse statues located in Gerry Park and at Roslyn High School.
Earlier this year, East Hills reached an agreement with the owners of the 92-year-old John Mackay III House, preserving the building. The Mackay house sits on 2.23 acres. Made of stone and constructed in 1929, the house was built for John Mackay III, grandson of John Mackay, who was one of the discoverers of the Comstock silver mines in the 1870s. His father, Clarence Mackay, was the owner of the Harbor Hill estate, which made up much of East Hills from 1902 to the 1954.
The gate lodge on Roslyn and Harbor Hill Road was designed with a French Baroque style to represent a smaller version of the Harbor Hill mansion, which was demolished in 1947.
The gate lodge’s ownership has been transferred a few times since the dismembering of the Harbor Hills Estate. In 1954, developers for the Country Estates Civic Association purchased the gate lodge property, and it was used as a swim club.
The gate lodge was listed on New York State and National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
In 2009, the gate lodge was sold to GAD Development on the condition that it be restored and maintained.
According to Howard Kroplick, co-president of the Roslyn Landmark Society, that obligation has not yet been met.
“Since 2009, it’s been basically sitting there sadly,” he said.
Over many years, Kroplick, who was then town historian of North Hempstead, tried to negotiate the transfer of ownership to either the town or the village. In 2017, GAD Development agreed to transfer the gate lodge’s deed to East Hills, which was finalized Dec. 10 after Nassau County approved a subdivision.
According to documents, the gate lodge has long been in disrepair. The founder of the Roslyn Landmark Society, Dr. Roger Gerry, wrote in 1983 to longtime Roslyn Board of Education Trustee Alvin Silverman regarding the structure, that “this building is the most important in East Hills.”
“With the joint efforts of the Village of East Hills and the Roslyn Landmark Society, we can accurately restore this historic building,” Kroplick said.
The previous owners put $100,000 toward the restoration, said Kroplick. He said that the vision is to have it resemble the way it looked when it was completed in 1902.
Improvements Kroplick mentioned for the limestone building included gas lanterns and the clock returning to the middle of the gate lodge, among others. “It’s very exciting because it’s a very doable project,” Kroplick said. “It might take a few years to reach that point, but our intention is to get it back to its original design.”
He said that the full costs of renovations have not been finalized and the village will seek grants to complete the project.
Kroplick thanked village officials and specifically Mayor Michael Koblenz for their efforts to secure the 2,000-square-foot property. He said through the years they persistently tried to transfer ownership to the village to get started on restoration efforts.
“They really made an extra effort to preserve this amazing building,” Kroplick said. “In 2017, they made the commitment to have this happen, and it’s very exciting the restoration can now begin.”
A previous version of this story was published. It has since been updated.