Sands Point Preserve, NY
Wurlitzer 2/8 Style 185
Opus 442 (1921)
Owned by Nassau County
maintained by NYTOS
The Hempstead House museum at Sands Point is a part of the Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation and is currently operated by a not-for-profit organization, Friends of the Sands Point Preserve. Like many great mansions built during the "Gilded (or Gatsby) Age" of Long Island Sound, Hempstead House is a magnificent example of "period" architecture customized to one man's fancy. The house originally housed a Welte pipe organ, and through an arrangement between NYTOS and Nassau County, a Wurlitzer theatre organ is being installed to replace the long-gone original residence instrument.
Wurlitzer Opus 442 was originally installed in Shea's "Belview" (later "Rapids") theatre in Niagara Falls, NY, in 1921. The instrument, a style 185, 2/7, was modified by Wurlitzer to incorporate a Tibia Clausa, not normally found on this style instrument. Like it's big sister, the style 285 Wurlitzer in nearby Shea's Buffalo, the Shea's Belview Wurlitzer was equipped with a 25 cycle current blower. Much of the Niagra Falls area current in the early part of the century utilized this rather non-conventional power standard.
The organ was removed from the theatre about 1972 by a private party for installation in a residence. After that, it was acquired by Mr. Ian McKenzie of St. James, Long Island, for installation in his home. In the late 1980's, the organ was donated to Nassau County Department of Parks and Recreation, for installation in Hempstead House at the Sands Point Preserve. The organ has remained intact and original all of it's life, and will be maintained that way as a demonstration of the engineering technology and sound that made the Wurlitzer name world famous. Installation of the organ is now complete, and the current crew members, John Karpus, Tom Lloyd, Alan Lush, and Tom Stehle are now working on tonal finishing, and restoration of the combination action. The Wurlitzer is played regularly by Alan Lush for various events held in the mansion.
About Hempstead House
The house was originally built in 1909 by Harold Gould, son of railroad magnate, Jay Gould for his wife. First planned as a replica of Kilkenny Castle, a second architectural team, Hunt and Hunt, prepared plans for a Medieval English Manor. The enormous stables were built in 1902. The house took approximately two years to build. The house originally contained a Welte organ with roll player that spoke into the Palm Court, a large open area with Tiffany-like leaded glass in the ceiling to let in natural light. When finished, the estate required 17 house servants, and 200 farmers and groundskeepers to maintain the original 300 acres of this "Gold Coast" estate.
Shortly after completion of the house, the Goulds separated, and it was sold, fully furnished, to Daniel Guggenheim, of metals fortune, who changed the name to "Hempstead House." In 1940, Mrs. Guggenheim donated the house to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, possibly because of her friendship with Charles A. Lindberg. The United States Navy used it from 1946 until 1967 Declared surplus, the Federal Government deeded the property to Nassau County.
Noted for its exceptional views of the Sound, the house is frequently used a film set. In recent years the mansion has been used in many films including scenes for "The Godfather" and "Great Expectations" as well as many TV shows including "Boardwalk Empire" and "Royal Pains."