Oheka Castle was built between 1914 and 1919 by financier Otto Herman Kahn (hence, Oheka) on 443 acres on the highest point on Long Island, NY. It cost $11,000,000 ($110,000,000 in today’s dollars) making it second only to the Biltmore Mansion in Ashville NC as the most expensive home ever built. It has 127 rooms and totals 109,000 square feet and, at its height, employed 127 servants. After Kahn’s death in 1934, it became a military school then retreat for New York Sanitation Workers. In 1936 Kahn’s image was used as the Monopoly Man. Oheka sat idle for five years and then a developer purchased it in 1984. He spent $30,000,000 and 16 years restoring it to its former grandeur–the largest restoration ever! Today it is a wedding venue and a hotel, film, and TV location. Oheka was used in the opening scene of Citizen Kane and is reputed to be the inspiration for the Great Gatsby home. The first photo shows Oheka under construction, the third shows the sanitation workers in 1939, the fifth shows Kahn with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin.
Far less imposing is Bryan Castle built in Idaho Springs CO in 1880. It was acquired in 1965, and the new owner built a moat and a draw bridge and put in extensive landscaping which now all but hides the home. The first photo is dated 1895 and the third shows it as an apartment building in 1938.
Melrose Castle was built on 50 acres in Casanova VA in 1853. During the Civil War it was occupied by both Union and Confederate forces. Melrose Castle has 9,000 square feet and, after years of neglect, is now privately occupied. It is seen here in two pictures from 1863.
Located 50 miles north of New York City on a six-acre island in the Hudson River sits a spooky, hulking relic known as Bannerman Castle. It was built by Frank Bannerman VI who, at 13 years of age, took over his father’s military supply business in New York City when his father left to fight in the Civil War. He purchased 90% of the Spanish American War military surplus and needed space to store 100 tons of black powder.He found the perfect site and built his castle/arsenal starting in 1901. It took seven years to build, mainly because he was constantly changing his design during construction. Later he became the world’s largest supplier of military equipment; his catalog was over 300 pages. In 1920, 200 tons of black powder blew up, and no repairs were ever made. Bannerman Castle was abandoned for 47 years following a devastating fire in 1969 and is now owned by NY Parks and Recreation, which allows for special events, frequent boat tours, and theatrical productions. The first photo shows the Castle under construction, and the third is dated 1905 (click to enlarge).
The Fountain of Time by Loredo Taft was dedicated in Chicago in 1922. Taft spent fifteen years on the project and even included himself as one of the figures. The fountain is 125 feet long and contains 100 figures passing before Father Time. It represents the full spectrum of humanity in varying stages of life and includes children, soldiers, kissing couples, etc. It is the oldest finished piece of art made of concrete in the country. In 1999 a $1.6 million restoration was begun and has yet to be completed. The close up picture is from 1920 and the other is from the 1922 dedication (click to enlarge).
Tower Grove Park in St. Louis opened in 1868 with the then largest variety of tree species (over 200) of any urban park in the country. Today it still holds that honor with 7500 trees covering 325 species. The stone blocks in the photos came from the Lindell Hotel which burned in 1867. They were placed by the fountain to create an “ancient ruins” effect even though they were only four years old. The first photo is dated ca. 1900.
The Elk Fountain was donated to the City of Portland OR in 1900. It has four water troughs for horses and is still serving them to this day. The early photo is ca.1900.
Buckingham Fountain was donated to the City of Chicago by Kate Buckingham in honor of her brother. She left $1,000,000 ($14,000,000 in today’s dollars) for construction and maintenance. It is still one of the largest fountains in the world with 15,000 gallons per minute flowing to a height of 50 feet. The fountain contains 1,500,000 gallons of water.It opened in 1927 with 50,000 people in attendance to hear John Phillip Sousa play Stars and Stripes Forever.The first photo shows it under construction in 1925 and the third about one year later.
The Dupont Fountain sits in a Washington D.C. traffic circle and was dedicated in 1921 However, it originally was a Civil War memorial honoring Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Dupont. It was installed in 1884 and had only footpaths around it as seen in the 1900 photo (click to enlarge). The monument was replaced by the fountain by the co-creators of a larger structure–the Lincoln Memorial. It was unprecedented in Washington D.C. to have a monument to an individual removed and replaced by a fountain. The third photo is dated 1920
The fountain in Forsyth Park in Savannah Georgia was built in 1858. There are identical fountains in Cuzco, Peru; Madison, Indiana; and Poughkeepsie, NY – identical because they were purchased from a New York City catalogue for $3,000 each. Forsyth Park’s fountain has survived the Civil War, vandalism, and severe weather in it’s 158-year history. The first photo dates from 1868 and the third from 1875 (click both to enlarge).