Inisfada Demolition Underway

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The fight for Inisfada remaining a historic landmark is over. On Thursday morning, Dec. 5, a wrecking ball commenced the demolition of the fabled 19th century edifice located at 251 Searingtown Rd. in North Hills. Shrouded in a thick fog, the demolition of Inisfada began, thus ending an era beholden to the Great Gatsby and eradicating a piece of history.

The fate of the former Jesuit-owned retreat house seems to be sealed, as a wrecking ball lashed at the 93-year-old, 87-room mansion reportedly owned by a Hong Kong developer, who has been mum on plans, the mansion, many speculate, will be totally or largely demolished to make way for high-end homes.

FEATURE: The Loss of Inisfada – Part One

When the 33-acre property went on the market last year listed at $49 million, various residents and civic associations worked to save the structure.

The Greater Manhasset Council of Civic Associations and several other organizations have worked to raise the consciousness level of the community as well as local government leaders to get the building deemed a landmark, but were unsuccessful in obtaining landmark status.

“It is a another sad day for preserving Long Island’s history,”  states Howard Kroplick, town historian for the Town of North Hempstead. “It is a shame that Village of North Hills officials, in the name of “progress,” made little attempt to save this historic and unique building.”

The property was on the market for well over a year before a buyer was found. The property went into contract in May 2013 and closed this past August for $36 million. It became one of the largest real estate transactions on Long Island in 2013.

Inisfada was originally the summer residence of Nicholas and Genevieve Brady. Built in the roaring ’20s, the Brady’s hosted many clergy as well as the Pope in their lovely home. Childless, the Brady’s gifted Inisfada to the Jesuits who used it as a retreat house. Many events were held there from religious retreats to weddings, but the cost and the ever prevalent need for maintenance made the property too burdensome to handle and forced St. Ignatius Retreat House to go on the market.

The Jesuits moved the mansion’s ornate chapel to Fordham University’s Bronx campus.

The solarium is a pile of rubble as the wrecking ball begins its death toll on Inisfada.
The solarium is a pile of rubble as the wrecking ball begins its death toll on Inisfada.
The destroying blows of the wrecking ball are behind the edifice and not visually available through the fence entrance.
Inisfada
Debris and rubble litters where the the side porches of Inisifada stood.
Debris and rubble litters where the the side porches of Inisfada stood.
The destroying blows of the wrecking ball are behind the edifice and not visually available through the fence entrance.
The destroying blows of the wrecking ball are behind the edifice, not visually available through the fence entrance.

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Elizabeth Johnson is editor of Manhasset Press and Port Washington News, special features including the Business Quarterly column, Manhasset Magazine, Pride In Port, Port Washington News, Port Gift Guide and other special sections. Growing up in nearby Garden City and attending New York University, she is well-versed in the locale and knowledgeable about the beat she covers. Her community involvement is extensive and includes the Manhasset SCA, Kiwanis International, Manhasset Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary’s Church, and various civic and local charitable organizations. Curious by nature, her travels, community service, love of the arts as well as local sports give her the inside view to unique content. During her time at Anton, she has received several awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Club of LI, including the coveted "Best Community newspaper" several years in a row.

24 COMMENTS

  1. This is disgustingly awful. People of this area ought to be ashamed of themselves for letting this happen. WHAT did the Mayor do??? How was this a good choice?? Awful. This has been done in the past and it’s always been a regretful decision. SHAME on all involved!

  2. http://www.Inisfada.org – The story of InisFada.

    This Holy Land & Church were blessed by the the Cardinal later the Pope. It was used to plan the evacuation of hundreds and thousands of persecuted families during WW2. Mrs Brady became the envoy to the Pope via the Cardinal when Roosevelt would not provide an envoy. The cardinal met with dignitaries from all over the United States and some of the highest most influential of these right in Manhasset.

    Israel has opened a part of the Holocaust Museum dedicated to Pope Pius XII and Mrs Brady is now honored at St peters in Rome.

    This is or was far more than a “summer home” to the rich in the 20’s. How many rich people had 3 Churches in the mansions ?

    All links and information about the history will be posted on www,InisFada.org

  3. This is disgusting! People will realize how beautiful this place is when it is flattened to the ground and we see it only in pictures. Now I know how it feels when Fergusons castle and the Old Penn Station was demolished. How sad….

  4. What is wrong with people? All residents of Long Island as well of those in Manhasset (especially the Mayor), should be ashamed of themselves for not being more proactive in saving one of our nation’s, not just Long Island’s, historical treasures. Please excuse this statement if you have tried to prevent this tragedy. Demolition of a national iconic building would never happen in Europe. This building has both historical and religious significance to those of many faiths. Many tried to get the message out, but to no avail as it has fallen on the deaf ears of those who sought monetary gain and have no regard for our past. Sad is inadequate. I cannot even look at the pictures, too disturbing.

  5. A Hong Kong developer? . . . I wonder if someone from the U.S. would be allowed to purchase a temple in Hong Kong and take a wrecking ball to it? I’m thinking the answer would definitely be, “NO!”

  6. So so sad.. what a tragedy.. how awful.. I moved out to Huntington a few years back but when I lived in Great Neck area I use to visit this beautiful, sacred place. Don’t know how a wealthy area of town could allow for this historic gem be sold to someone who had total disregard for this holy mansion and it’s grounds. A huge loss to Searington, Manhasset, & all that were touched by this place.

  7. I didn’t know about this place until I read of its demolition on another FB page. I live in NC but if they had had a “GoFund Me” page maybe people all around the country would have contributed enough to help save this place. I know I would have made a contribution. This is the kind of place that can’t be recreated today because the artisan talent for many of its features no longer exists. This makes me sick to my stomach to see what happened to such a lovely historical place.

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