Oct 14 2014

Mystery Foto #89 Solved: The Brookholt Mansion Built by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and O.H.P. Belmont

This weekend's Mystery Foto highlighted a mansion that was once located less than a mile from my childhood home.

Mystery Foto questions:

-Who lived in this mansion which was located off Front Street in East Meadow?

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and her husband O.H.P. (Oliver Hazard Perry) Belmont

-How were the mansion's owners associated with the Vanderbilt Cup Races?

Alva was the mother of William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.. O.H.P. Belmont was Willie K's step-father. Moreover, the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup Race ran of the northern border of the estate on Hempstead Turnpike.

-What event occurred in this mansion that had an impact on the ground-breaking ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway?

In early June 1908, O.H.P. Belmont became gravely ill due to appendicitis. Rather than give the keynote speech at the Motor Parkway ground -breaking ceremonies on June 6, 1908, William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. stayed with his mother and step-father at Brookholt where O.H.P. was being cared for. Belmont died four days later at the mansion.

Congrats to Greg O., John Hlasny, Steve Lucas, John Gaglione, Tim Ivers, Brain McCarthy, Ariejan Bos, Mike Appice and Art Kleiner who correctly identified Brookholt. Kudos to Greg O., Steve Lucas, Brian McCarthy, Ariejan Bos and Mike Appice who knew that because of Belmont's grave illness, Willie K. was unable to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway. As always, thanks Art for the special Kleiner Korner documents.


Howard Kroplick

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont (second from the left) and her husband O.H.P. Belmont (third from the right).


The location of Brookholt off Front Street in East Meadow.The name likely came from the nearly East Meadow Brook and "holt", a British term for a wooded hill.

As seen in this 1914 map, the Long Island Motor Parkway was less than one mile away to the north.


One year after divorcing William K. Vanderbilt, in 1896 Alva Vanderbilt married O.H.P. Belmont. The following year, they commissioned Richard Howland Hunt to design Brookholt.

The mansion was located south of Front Street in East Meadow. Great photos courtesy of the wonderful Old Long Island website.

Brookholt's stable/barn complex

The "Winter Gardens" complex was located on the north side of Front Street.

The Brookholt complex being offered for sale in the 1920s.

Coldstream Golf Club

In 1923, Brookholt was purchased  by a business group to develop the Coldstream Golf Club.

An August 3, 1938 aerial of the Coldstream Golf Club. Front Street can be seen along the bottom, Merrick Avenue to the right and Hempstead Turnpike along the top.

On February 11, 1939, a Lockheed XP-38, a secret fighter making a transcontinental test flight, undershot Mitchel Field and crashed on the Coldstream Golf Course.

As reported in the February 1939 issue of Time, Lieutenant Ben Kelsey, ace test pilot and sole occupant of the twin-motor Army pursuit plane, survived the crash near the Meadow Brook.

A few holes of the Coldstream Golf Club can be seen in the left corner of this May 18, 1939 aerial looking west. Mitchel Field was featured in the aerial with its two runways being expanded to accommodate larger aircraft..

Another spectacular aerial of Mitchel Field and East Meadow looking north and taken on March 6, 1941. Front Street was the road across the bottom. Coldstream Country Club was located on the right corner. The Meadow Brook Country Club can be seen further north.

The East Meadow Brook, later shortened to Meadow Brook, can be seen  in the middle of the aerial.

The site of the "Winter Gardens" complex used as the Coldstream Golf Club clubhouse.

Santini Sub Base

With the advent of World War II, around 1941, the golf course was purchased by the U.S. government as part of the expansion of Mitchel Field.

The Santini Sub Base would provide additonal support for Mitchel Field and serve during the war as a hospital for the airlifted wonded.

The Location of Brookholt Today

The mansion was located just west of today's Waldbaums' shopping center off Front Street.

I remember the Brookholt location as the Mitchel Manor Air Force housing complex. The  renovated apartment housing complex retains the Mitchel Manor name.

The remnants of the nearby Meadow Brook. Growing up in East Meadow, I remember this stream that ran along Richmond Road.

The location of the Brookholt Estate in East Meadow.

Kleiner's Korner (documents submitted by Art Kleiner)

Brooklyn Eagle, 1914

Brooklyn Eagle 1927

Brooklyn Eagle, January 10, 1901

Brooklyn Eagle, January 14, 1905

Brooklyn Eagle, January 14, 1905

The New York Times, June 4, 1908

The New York Times, June 10, 1908

Brooklyn Eagle, June 10, 1908


Oct 09 2014 Greg O. 11:45 PM

Who lived in this mansion which was located off Front Street in East Meadow?

Oliver Belmont, built Brookholt in 1897, a year after marrying Alva Vanderbilt. Brookholt was designed by Richard Howland Hunt .

-How were the mansion’s owners associated with the Vanderbilt Cup Races?

Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont and Alva Vanderbilt were William K Vanderbilt Jr’s stepfather and mother.

-What event occurred in this mansion that had an impact on the ground-breaking ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway?

OHP Belmont was ill on June 6, 1908 for the ground breaking and WKV was at Brookholt instead of the ceremony. Belmont died 4 days later.

Oct 10 2014 Michael LaBarbera 8:55 AM

Clueless on this one, but at first i thought it might have been the Meadowbrook Club Clubhouse. Eager to see the answer on Monday, good one.

Oct 10 2014 John Hlasny 12:56 PM

Found this. Some pretty cool history. I had some fun experiences in the area known as Santini’s as well the Mitchel Field remnants in the late 60s.

Oct 10 2014 Steve Lucas 2:31 PM

That mansion was called “Brockholt” and was the residence of Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont (Willie K. Jr.‘s mother) and Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont whose father was August Belmont, a director of the LIMP, Inc. It was built in 1897 by the newlyweds who had married in 1896 after Alva had divorced Willie K. Jr’s father, William Kissam Vanderbilt I in 1895. It burned down in 1934. Willie K. Jr. was scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony on June 6, 1908 for his Long Island Motor Parkway at Central Park (Bethpage) but his step-father was seriously ill with appendicitis at “Brockholt” at the same time and A. R Pardington filled in for him at the ceremony. Sadly, O. H. P. Belmont died four days later after developing septicemia during surgery at “Brockholt”.

Oct 10 2014 John Gaglione 9:01 PM

Brookholt Mansion ......................
Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, who at one point had nine homes, and her new husband, Oliver Belmont, built Brookholt in 1897, a year after their marriage. In 1915, she sold Brookholt to Alexander Smith Cochran, heir to a carpet fortune. He sold the estate in 1923 to the newly formed Coldstream Golf Club. The house burned down in 1934. Much of the land was sold during the Second World War for an extension of Mitchel Field known as Santini which is how I knew the area as a child when I sometimes played along the banks of the Meadow Brook.

Oct 10 2014 Tim Ivers 10:07 PM

The Brookholt mansion (Meadow BROOK which flowed nearby, )located on the current Meadowbrook Pkwy path.
Original owners Alva and Willie K. Vanderbilt

Oct 11 2014 Greg O. 9:34 AM

Interesting NY Times article about the illness of OHP Belmont. It appears that Dr. Louis Lanehart, Chief Surgeon for the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race, was also one of his doctors.


Oct 11 2014 brian d mccarthy 2:14 PM

This mansion was named Brookholt.It was built in 1897 for the newly wed Oliver and Alva Belmont. Alva was previously married to Willy K. Willy K could’nt be present for the LIMP ground breaking ceremony 6/6/1908 because of Olivers illness, Oliver passed away 4 days later from complications following an Appendicitis operation. Since he passed at the mansion, I’m assuming this was the event that impacted the ground breaking ceremony.According to a 1914 E Belcher Hyde map, the mansion was sort of at the N/W corner of Merrick Ave and Fulton St. Even with these handdrawn maps, it looked like such a pretty area with the Meadowbrook Pond and all. GoldCoastMansions.com has good info and photos.

Oct 11 2014 Ariejan Bos 3:56 PM

The house is Brookholt Mansion in East Meadow, Hempstead, LI and was built by Alva Vanderbilt-Belmont. After she had divorced William K. Vanderbilt, she remarried Oliver Belmont in 1896 and built this house in 1897. Shortly before the Ground-Breaking Ceremony for the Motor Parkway on June 6, 1908 Oliver Belmont fell ill from acute appendicitis. Because of this William Vanderbilt was unable to be present at the ceremony and to make his speech, which was now read by A.R. Pardington. On June 10, 1908, Oliver Belmont died due to complications after surgical treatment. Alva Belmont sold the house in 1915. The house burnt down in 1934.

Oct 12 2014 Greg O. 7:08 PM

One last link; Zach’s blog at ‘Old Long Island’ has some very good information on “Brookholt’.


Oct 12 2014 Ted 9:23 PM

This is what I found. This mansion stood for more than 3 decades and now it’s long gone. It was called The Brook in Brookholt, was Meadowbrook, which ran where the parkway is now. Alva Vanderbilt Bellmont and her husband Oliva built it in 1897.    I just want to mention about a comment that Phil asked about there being another gear shift in the Chrysler, there isn’t one, I saw the car today. This might sound stupid, it does look like one. but looking at it now, it’s a shadow, it got us both fooled.  Howard- You can tell John, I questioned him about it

Oct 12 2014 Mike Appice 10:00 PM

The mansion is the Brookholt home of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. She was the divorced from William K. Vanderbilt founder of the Motor Parkway. She married Oliver Hazzard Belmont and they built the house on Front St in East Meadow. Oliver Hazzard Belmont became ill and the Ground Breaking Ceremonies for the opening of the Motor Parkway was postponed

Oct 13 2014 Art Kleiner 12:43 AM

-Who lived in this mansion which was located off Front Street in East Meadow?
This mansion, Brookholt, was built in 1897 for and to be lived in by Alva Vanderbilt and Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont.  Alva tried to use Brookholt in 1911 as a school of agriculture for women, however it failed. The estate was sold to Alex Smith Cochran in 1915 who in turn sold it in 1923 to the Cold Stream Golf Club.  The mansion was destroyed by fire in 1934.

-How were the mansion’s owners associated with the Vanderbilt Cup Races?  Alva was Willie K. Vanderbilt, Jr.‘s mother and she and Belmont often watched the races from their box at the grandstand.

-What event occurred in this mansion that had an impact on the ground-breaking ceremony for the Long Island Motor Parkway?  O.H.P. Belmont was stricken with a serious illness (at least it turned out to be) and was at Brookholt, the days immediately preceding the ground-breaking ceremony (June 6, 1908).  Originally planning to give the ground-breaking speech, Willie K. stayed behind at Brookholt and as a substitute, A.R. Pardington, delivered the speech.  Belmont, a few days, later succumbed to his illness after a series of operations. 

Kleiner’s Korner documentation to follow to Howard.

Oct 20 2014 L.K. 11:59 AM

Wow, what a beautiful estate it was….. Money was no issue at all during its inception and it showed ...

Oct 30 2014 S. Berliner, III 6:14 PM

I theenk you have “The location of the Brookholt Estate in East Meadow” on the wrong side of Meadowbrook Parkway on your aerial, no?  Sam, III

From Howard Kroplick:

Brookholt was located east of the current day Meadowbrook Parkway and west of Merrick Avenue.

Leave a Comment