Otto Kahn was born in Germany and moved to America in 1893. He met his wife Addie quickly after. He took a year off work to tour Europe with her. During their year abroad, they acquired an extensive collections of paintings, statuary, and other object d’art. By the time of his death, his collection would be considered one of the finest in the United States. They settled into an estate in Morristown, New Jersey.
In 1914, Kahn purchased a lot located on Fifth Avenue and Ninety-First Street in Manhattan and a 443 acre tract of land in Cold Spring Harbor. The building in Manhattan was listed in the 1919 edition of The Architectural Record. This became his legal residence for the remainder of his life.
As a lover of symbolism, he used his own initials to name his estate on Long Island, calling it OHEKA. He employed hundreds of workmen to create a man-made mountain on which to build his great home. He envisioned his home to be one of the largest, grandest, and most complete estates on the Northeastern Seaboard. He hired the architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich to construct it.
Otto and his wife Addie both were passionate about gardening. In addition to areas for formal and informal gardens, the created a greenhouse complex, which became one of the larger private nurseries of its kind in the United States. In order to make sure the gardens didn’t overshadow the building, he hired America’s foremost landscaping architects; Olmstead Brothers of Massachusetts. The Olmstead Brothers were responsible for Central Park, the Capitol Grounds in Washington D.C., and more.
From early childhood, Kahn was an accomplished equestrian and plans were drawn up to include bridle paths that would weave through the entire estate. A twenty-two acre sanctuary was also created for Addie. Otto also commissioned an eighteen-hole golf course to be built on the estate. It ranked as one of the finest golf course in the United States at the time.
With the involvement of America in World War I, the construction of the estate came to a complete halt in 1917. It re-started a year later. Otto and his family moved into the state in 1919. Upon driving through an Entrance Tower, an over a mile long driveway opened onto the main courtyard. The estate itself consists of three floors which included an indoor swimming pool, approximately one hundred thirty rooms, an two story high entrance room, reception hall, a library with hidden room, ballroom, dining room, sitting room, and a billiards room to name a few.
Otto Kahn died on March 29, 1934 of a massive heart attack. The state remained vacant for years until it was purchased by the Department of Sanitation of the City of New York to be used as a weekend retreat. The neighbors were horrified and the resort was quickly shut down. It was leased in 1934 as a training center for radio operators of the Merchant Marine. In 1948, the estate and 23 acres were sold to a military school as its Long Island branch. The school closed in 1978 and the estate was abandoned.
In 1983, the Castle was sold to developer Gary Melius. He began planning restoring the estate to its former glory. It opened in 1987 and is listed on the national Register for Historic Places.
Source:King, Robert B. Raising a Fallen Treasure: The Otto H. Kahn Home, Huntington, Long Island. Robert B. King, 1985