The Village Club of Sands Point, formerly the IBM Country Club, was once the estate of Isaac Guggenheim. The manor house was started by him in 1916 and completed in 1918. After his death in 1922, the property reverted to his estate and then, in 1924 was purchased at auction by his brother, Solomon R. Guggenheim. Another brother, Daniel Guggenheim, had an estate further north on the Point which is now occupied by the Nassau County Park System and his son, Harry Guggenheim, continued to reside on an adjoining estate until his death in 1971. These men were the sons of Meyer Guggenheim who, together with their father and brothers, developed their investments in mining, smelting and refining into one of the major American family fortunes.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Guggenheim story is in the ways the members of the family have chosen to use their money. Among the brothers, Solomon, who resided here until his death in 1948, was one the most interesting. The principal monument to his memory is the Museum of Non-Objective Art, generally known as the Guggenheim Museum on upper Fifth Avenue. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it houses the major part of the collection of modern art that Solomon accumulated during his lifetime.
THE DESIGN OF THE ESTATE
The Club property, facing on Hempstead Harbor covers approximately 210 acres. When owned by Isaac, it was known as the "Villa Carola. Solomon renamed it "Trillora Court" for his three daughters. His two yachts were named Trillora I and Trillora II.
The original estate house was destroyed by fire. During the time that the present mansion was being built, the family lived in the gatehouse.
The mansion has been described as an Italian Renaissance type, and was designed by H. Van Buren Magonigle. All of the other buildings -- the golf club house, the garage, the barns - predate the main house, except the horse stable (now used for Country Club equipment), which was built by Solomon for one of his daughters, and the beach house completed by IBM in 1954.
As a part of the general design of the estate, the land surrounding the residence was also developed in the formal style of the Italian Renaissance under the supervision of Ferruccio Vitale, a landscape architect. The formal Gardens are on the southwesterly front of the house beneath the broad terrace. They in turn extend to the long grassy avenue (the "allee") planted on either side. The gardens are divided into four parts -- the central portion made up of a broad greensward. It is flanked by sections of perennial borders. At the foot of the gardens, a fourth portion, extends across the entire width.
During the Guggenheim residency the area now occupied by the parking lot was the site of extensive greenhouses and nearby were the vegetable gardens, cut flower gardens and the orchards. Pastures for the prize dairy herd and for the horses were on both the north and south sides of the estate.
Among the out-buildings included in the 1924 prospectus were: a main entrance lodge, golf club house, superintendent's cottage, greenhouses, garage, ice house, stable and dairy, farm house, hay barn, dog kennels, wagon shed and sewage disposal plant.
It is said that some summers while the Guggenheim fortunes were high, Solomon had as many as 104 men working on the grounds and in the barns. In addition he employed a sizeable house staff, and crews for the two yachts. Solomon was also said to have maintained l6 flower beds in the center gardens with more than 6,000 tulip bulbs. Four men worked full-time in the greenhouses, while the rest were assigned to the vegetable gardens, where the baseball field now is. One full-time gardener's only responsibility was to bring in the flowers from the cut-flower garden each day, store them in the cellar overnight and then arrange them the following morning in over 100 vases throughout the house.
Solomon Guggenheim also used to commute in the summer to his New York office on his smaller yacht, a 125' boat, which had a crew of six. His larger yacht had a crew of forty and was used principally for cruises in European waters.
There are many fascinating details about the manor house both in its design and the material used in the construction. The exterior, for example, was constructed of tapestry brick of several soft shades accented with terra cotta and marble and with roof tiles selected to reproduce the general color of the brickwork. From the current tennis facility you have a clear view of the New York skyline. Before the trees grew up, Mr. Guggenheim's room had a great view of the city.
It is said that in the planning of the house, the controlling factors were the site, the view and the prevailing summer breezes, the latter being from the southwest. The main living room, sun porch and dining room were located on the southwesterly front of the house. Mr. and Mrs. Guggenheim's private suites of bedrooms, bathrooms and dressing rooms were directly above them.
To help secure a good circulation of air, the house was built around the central open court which was described as an extremely decorative feature wills its marble column loggias, fountain basin and goup, grassy floor and growing rhododendrons and cedars. The grass was eventually taken out and the marble floor was installed. During the later years, when Solomon was in residence, large potted trees and shrubs were kept in this area and during the winter were moved out to the palm house. In recent years, the planting has been discontinued and the fountain disconnected.
On the first floor, the room on your left as you enter served as Mrs. Guggenheim's library and study. The manager's office was at one time known as the Bay Room because of the view overlooking Hempstead Harbor.
The Library, with its Gothic walls wainscoted to the ceiling of quartered white oak with Gothic tracery, was originally the Billiards Room. The major changes made by IBM were to place a chalkboard within a former recessed area, to give the paneling an antique finish to provide a somewhat lighter appearance, and to change the location of the doorway from the end to the center.
The Music Room is paneled in Italian walnut. At one end of the room there was formerly a large Estey organ behind the carved decorated spindles which now conceal air-conditioning equipment. The cornice and ceiling beams are also of decorated Italian walnut.
The Oak Room is in the style of Louis Seize, with a floor of quartered oak parquetry and walls wainscoted to the ceiling with fine-grained French oak. The panels, when the Guggenheims were living here were hung with antique red damask.
The entrance vestibule and the main hall with the wrought iron doors, the decorated ceiling, marble inlay floor and Travertine walls, follow the Italian Renaissance theme.
On the second floor, Solomon's Regency bedroom, now Room 5, had floors of quartered white oak, gold-plated door and window hardware and register faces of cane.
PURCHASED BY IBM IN 1953;
PURCHASED BY THE VILLAGE of SANDS POINT IN 1994
After Solomon's death in 1948, a group of private builders purchased the property and were at one time planning to construct a large number of houses on one-acre plots. The venture was unsuccessful, and only three houses were actually completed; these now face on Astor's Lane. At this time, IBM Chairman, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. discovered the property and recommended that it be purchased as a country club for the New York area employees. The announcement of the IBM purchase appeared in the newspapers on March 4, 1953.
In July 1959, the Executive Development Center held its first class in the mansion. The Corporate Management Development School continued to use this site for executive development training until the opening of the Corporate Management Development Center in August 1979. Sands Point was then utilized as a conference center for all divisions until its sale to the Village of Sands Point on December 1, 1994.
The mansion continues to serve as the focal point for numerous club activities from weekly bridge games to special events i.e. summer concerts, holiday parties. In addition, the bedrooms are being utilized to house visiting guests of members.
Recently the golf course underwent a major renovation. Nine new holes of golf were opened in July 2000. The existing nine holes underwent an extensive renovation and we became an 18 hole golf course on May 25, 2001 as scheduled.
The dairy barn has been renovated into a new golf pro shop and the original chaffeur's garage is being turned into a new bar and grille restaurant with locker rooms upstairs. The current entrance road to the Club opened in July 2000. The golf course now covers the prior entrance.