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Oheka Castle on Long Island, New York

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Gilded Age Grandeur
Oheka Castle on Long Island, New York

Oheka Castle on Long Island, New York

Photo © Jackie Craven

The Legend of Otto Kahn

During an era known as the Gilded Age, Wall Street financier Otto Hermann Kahn achieved staggering wealth. He reorganized railroads, patronized the arts, and, after the stock market crash in 1929, spoke out eloquently in defense of bankers.

Even after his kingdom crumbled, Kahn remained a legend. He became the monocled millionaire cartoon on the popular board game, Monopoly. Orson Wells used Kahn's vacation home, Oheka Castle, for the opening scene of Citizen Kane, the 1941 film about wealth and ambition. Today that castle is a resort hotel where visitors can rediscover Gilded Age luxury.

Kahn's Castle

Ironically, Otto Kahn (no relation to the famous architect, Louis Kahn) was often excluded from social circles. Born Jewish, he could not join prestigious country clubs. Perhaps this is why he decided to build one of the largest and most spectacular homes in the country. He asked the architecture firm Delano & Aldrich to design a Châteauesque style mansion on the highest hill on Long Island. Workers moved earth to build a hill high enough to meet Kahn's criteria.

Completed in 1919, Oheka Castle cost 11 million dollars to construct. The building is both huge and impenetrable. The massive walls made with reinforced steel and concrete measure up to 3 1/2 feet thick. Spanning 109,000 square feet, the mansion was (and still is) almost America's biggest private home. Only the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina outranks Kahn's vacation home.

Oheka Castle Hotel and Estate

The evocative name Oheka is an abbreviation of the wealthy financier's name, Otto Hermann Kahn. For fifteen years, Kahn spent summers and holidays in the home with his wife Addie and their four children. The castle eventually fell into ruins, but today the estate and surrounding gardens are restored. Oheka Castle is one of the few Gilded Age mansions that also serves as a hotel, resort, and romantic wedding venue.

Join us as we tour the castle and grounds...

NEXT: The Romantic Road to Oheka

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