Jan 28 2010

Clarence Mackay, the Vanderbilt Cup Races, a Horse and Newsday

Okay, I admit it, the title for today's post is a bit of a stretch....but trust me I will link all these subjects together and it's fun!

Clarence Mackay (1874-1938) was the heir to the Comstock silver fortune and was a major figure in the development of the international telegraph business. Mackay was friends with William K.Vanderbilt Jr. and, as with most of New York high society, would often attend the Vanderbilt Cup Races.


As seen in this photo following the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Race, William K. Vanderbilt Jr. (in the middle wearing goggles) was asked to address his friends and race officials at the Westbury grandstand.


Clarence Mackay can seen standing next to Willie K. during the speech.


Before and after the races, Mackay also hosted huge parties for his friends and business associates at his 648-acre estate overlooking the village of Roslyn. Built from 1900 to 1902, Mackay's Harbor Hill estate was one of the largest on Long Island with formal gardens and terraces surrounding the main house designed by Stanford White. In 1920, Mackay commissioned two 25-ton, 40- foot replicas of the famous Champs-Elysees Marley Horse statues for his Harbor Hill west garden. Note the southwest statue in the red circle. The estate gradually fell into despair and the mansion was taken down in 1947. Today, the only remains of the estate are the gate house, a water tower, the dairyman's cottage and the two pink granite horse statues.


In the 1950s, the northwest Mackay Horse Statue was moved to the entrance of Roslyn High School where it stands today. The southwest Mackay Horse statue stood in its original location in the backyard of an East Hills house. The house recently went to contract and Shulman family wished to find a new public home for the statue. My friend Ian Zwerdling and I stepped in and have been coordinating efforts to move the statue to the Gerry Pond Park in Roslyn.


On Wednesday, the Mackay Horse statue was removed from its pedestal for storage.


Here I am with the horse's massive head.


Ian Zwerdling and the remains of the horse's groom.


North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross and I celebrating the successful removal of the statue. Along with the Shulman family, Franklin Perrell of the Roslyn Landmark Society and the Gerry Trust, Ms. Gross has been instrumental in efforts to save the statue.

Check out today's Newsday for an article on the Mackay Horse project. More photos and a video can be found on this link to Newsday.com . Other related websites are mackayhistory.com and a VanderbiltCupRaces.com favorite oldlongisland.com.


Update: November 26, 2010: On Saturday, December 11, 2010, a cocktail party will be held to "Restore the Mackay Horse Statues Back to their Original Glory". I am honored to be one of the co-chairs for the event. Click here for more information on this fun evening!


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