Dec 09 2017

The Hunt for the Treasures of Virginia “Birdie” Vanderbilt’s Estate in Brookville

The Long Island estate of Birdie Vanderbilt seen in Mystery Foto #47 continues to amaze. Last Wednesday, a small group of neighbors and explorers were given the opportunity to hunt for Mrs. Vanderbilt's treasures remaining at her former Brookville estate.


Howard Kroplick

After verifying the exact location of Mrs. Vanderbilt's Brookville estate, I realized  the northern section of the gardens was in the backyard of my friends Darrell and Rocey Lesters. They were also excited about the discovery. Responding to my suggestion and with approvals from his neighbors, Darrell arranged a treasure hunt for a small group of viewers searching for remnants of the mansion and gardens. Here is what we found:

Mother Nature has taken over sections of the former gardens.

Our first discovery: A fire hydrant found near the site of the mansion.

Soon after, we found this garden vase.

Art Kleiner and Greg O. uncover more remnants.

A sundial!

Al Velocci, Darrell Lester and Frank Femenias check out a fallen obelisk.

Brian McCarthy recovers a wing.

Brain McCarthy and Al Velocci piecing together the statue.

The eagle that was perched on top of the obelisk.

The obelisk could be seen in the 1930 Mystery Foto.

As seen in this 2012 Google Earth aerial, the obelisk was still standing...until Superstorm Sandy hit later in October. Courtesy of Greg O.

These statues were recovered by the homeowner in the woods in his backyard.

Another neighbor led us to a circular "pond" in his backyard.

Art Kleiner, Darrell Lester, Greg O., Steve Lucas and Rocey Lester soon uncovered a statue pedestal.

Greg O., Dave Russo, Art Kleiner and Brian McCarthy clear the "pond" area.

Th "pond" was the actually a fountain in the middle of the mansion's driveway.

Al Velocci uncovering the driveway and a brick wall near the fountain.

These bricks surrounded the entire fountain and made up the main driveway in front of the mansion..

The bricks were manufactured by S & F Company. Information on the Sayre & Fisher Brick Company courtesy of Art Kleiner.

The driveway as seen in this 1926 aerial.

The driveway and fountain can be seen in this 1950 aerial

A great day was had by all! Thank you Darrell and Rocey and all the Brookvile neighbors!


Dec 10 2017 Thomas Rakoczy 12:21 AM

AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing this incredible adventure… amazed what you can still find on the Island if you look hard enough! Thanks Howard, we love your work & we look forward to your next discovery!

All the Best,
Tom & Tano Rakoczy

Dec 10 2017 Laura and Kenneth Harris 9:52 AM

Very nice presentation.  What was the last year that the estate was lived in?

Howard Kroplick

Good question. The mansion and estate was very much intact in the 1950 aerial.

Dec 10 2017 Richard Sloan 9:52 AM

Love this sort of treasure hunt.  It was a great idea,  I Googled her and suggest others do the same to see the story of her wedding night, their separation, and how long it took her to finally divorce him.  Also, a few scant more details on the demise of the grounds.  Someone featured it in a 2012 report on line that can also be seen in the Google search.

Can anyone tell me where the California racetrack (seen in the early Chaplin film in your last blog) was on present day aerial views?

Dec 10 2017 Rick S 11:44 AM

I am confused. Was the estate sold off in pieces, that now belong to many owners, that allowed all of you to look through their property? That would mean the Vanderbilt family fell apart? And sold off the property in pieces?

Howard Kroplick:

Rick, as described in Mystery Foto #47,  Mrs. Vanderbilt sold the estate to Henry William Sage in 1927 and who sold it in 1941 to Edouard LeRoux Sometime after 1950, the mansion was taken down and the property was divided into 2-4 acre properties.

Dec 10 2017 JeRita 12:30 PM

Thanks Howard for sharing your adventure

Dec 10 2017 LMK 5:43 PM

Great fun and an adventure to read about….

Dec 10 2017 Howard Kroplick 5:47 PM

Robert R.

Wow, how absolutely spectacular, Howard.
That is just so exciting!

Dec 10 2017 Ann 7:57 PM

Hi Howard!
How interesting!!  Thank you for sharing.

Dec 10 2017 Rick S 8:14 PM

Thanks Howard for the explanation, thanks to the hard working group that went exploring!

Dec 15 2017 Tom 3:24 PM

Amazing how many things were left behind.  Exploring and discovering is always fun!

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