Oheka Castle, also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, is a hotel located on the North Shore of Long Island, in West Hills, New York, also known as the "Gold Coast," a hamlet in the town of Huntington. It was the country home of investment financier and philanthropist Otto Hermann Kahn and his family. The name "Oheka" is an acronym using the first several letters of each part of its creator's name, Otto Hermann Kahn, which Kahn also used to name his yacht Oheka II and his ocean-front Villa Oheka in Palm Beach, Florida. The mansion, built by Kahn between 1914 and 1919, is the largest private home in New York, and the second largest in the United States, comprising 127 rooms and over 109,000 sq ft (10,100 m2), as originally configured.
|Location||135 W. Gate Drive,|
Huntington, New York
|Area||23.2 acres (9.4 ha)|
|Architect||Delano & Aldrich; |
Olmsted Brothers, et al.
|Architectural style||Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements, Chateauesque|
|NRHP reference No.||04000996|
|Added to NRHP||September 15, 2004|
The castle is now a hotel with 32 guest rooms and suites. It is a popular wedding venue for socialites, celebrities, and dignitaries, as well as the backdrop to many photo shoots, television series and films. It also offers a bar, restaurant, and mansion tours of the estate and gardens.
Kahn built Oheka in response to Jews being forbidden entry to clubs and golf courses in Morristown, New Jersey and because in 1905, a previous country home of Kahn's, Cedar Court, was virtually destroyed by fire. He was determined to build a fireproof building, so he had his architects, Delano and Aldrich, design it in steel and concrete, making it one of the first totally fireproof residential buildings. Two years were spent building an artificial hill on which to place the home, giving it views of Cold Spring Hills and Cold Spring Harbor.
Kahn commissioned the Olmsted Brothers to design the estate's grounds, centered on a formal axial sunken garden in the French manner, of clipped greens and gravel in parterres and water terraces, screened by high clipped hedging from the entrance drive that runs parallel to the main axis. Other features of the 443-acre (179 ha) complex included an 18-hole golf course designed by golf architect Seth Raynor, one of the largest private greenhouse complexes in America, tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, a landing strip, orchards, and stables.
Several years after Kahn's death in 1934, the estate was sold. After the sale, it was used for several purposes, including as a retreat for New York City sanitation workers. In 1948, Eastern Military Academy purchased the castle and 23 acres (9.3 ha) of its property, bulldozed the gardens and subdivided the rooms. The school occupied the house until it closed in 1979. For the next four years, the building remained empty, during which time over 100 documented arson attempts occurred, all of which the building survived, demonstrating Kahn's success in building a fireproof building. In 1946 the golf course and stables became part of the Cold Spring Country Club, and the greenhouse complex operated as Otto Keil Florist. Much of the remainder of the property was developed into single-family homes.
In 1984, Oheka was purchased by Gary Melius, a Long Island developer. Melius undertook the largest private residential renovation project in the United States to restore the house, which was in a state of almost total disrepair, and recreate the gardens from the original Olmsted plans. In 1988, unable to continue financing the massive project, Melius sold the property to Hideki Yokoi for $22.5 million. Ten years later, following a lawsuit, the building passed to one of Yokoi's daughters and her husband. They were unable to sustain the property themselves, so Melius reacquired it under a long-term lease and later re-purchased the estate, operating it as a weddings and events venue, luxury hotel and conference center.
Celebrities who have been married there include Curtis Martin, Kevin Jonas, Megyn Kelly, Joey Fatone, Brian McKnight, former U.S. congressman Anthony Weiner, and comedian Yannis Pappas.
On February 24, 2014, Melius survived a gunshot to the head by a masked gunman in the parking lot of the castle.