Property History

Lands End Manor

Originally the Cravath farm with farmhouse, built circa 1885, was bought by George Galt Bourne, son of Frederich G. Bourne, president of Singer Manufacturing Company, in the early Twentieth Century for a summer getaway and a place for his new wife, Massachusetts socialite, Helen Whitney, to raise her horses. An avid equestrian, she later married, Harvey Dow Gibson, a very wealthy and well-known businessman, who at 34, was the youngest man to be a New York bank president when he became the President of Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, the precursor of today’s Citibank. Gibson served as the President of the Red Cross in France during World War I, receiving the country’s highest honor, the Order National de la Légion D’Honneur, and in England during World War II earning many more honors. In 1926, Gibson hired the famous firm of Walker & Gillette to transform the Lands’ End farmhouse into a magnificent Georgian masterpiece with palatial rooms fit for entertaining grand parties for which the Gibson’s had a reputation of throwing. In fact, frequent house guests were Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose observations of their time spent on the “Gold Coast” while at Lands’ End inspired Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.” Many mansions have been referred to as “Great Gatsby” homes, but Lands’ End Manor could very well be the first to truly earn that honor. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, designed the seemingly endless grounds at Lands’ End and its many spectacular gardens.

The Gibson’s lived in several homes depending upon the season. These included Lands’ End Manor, a house on Park Avenue in the City, and one in in Conway, New Hampshire, where Gibson grew up and later developed a nearby mountain ski lodge by importing European skiing experts to teach Americans, especially his stepdaughter, Whitney, to ski better. Whitney was an exceptionally beautiful woman quite sought after in New York social circles. But she left that behind to become an actress, which caused a bit of a scandal back in New York. Her fame was short lived as she married a successful Hollywood Director named Stanton Griffis and they moved to London when Griffis became Ambassador to England. For a brief time, she lived with her husband at Lands’ End Manor. For years, Gibson commuted to Wall Street by means of his yacht, which he kept docked 600-feet away at the edge of the lawn. For convenience, he housed the boat crew at the mansion in a two-bedroom apartment built specifically for them. Of the 140 acres, The Gibson’s generously donated a large portion of the coastal area to be preserved as a wildlife sanctuary, and the creek area to The Creek Club, which Gibson founded along with several of his neighbors and friends such J.P. Morgan Jr., Vincent Astor, Marshall Field, George Baker, Herbert Pratt, and Harry Payne Whitney. After Gibson’s death in 1950, Helen held onto the remaining land until her death in 1974. In 1982, their daughter, Whitney Bourne, had a well-known land planner sell the property to the current owners. They bought the 24-acre property, and for the next decade or so bought up all the adjoining parcels containing the outbuildings, guest quarters, pastures, and gardens. Like the Gibson’s, they love entertaining, yachting, and horses and have maintained and enhanced all parts of the property while keeping its “Great Gatsby” heritage and ambiance.

Owned by only two families since its transformation from farm to estate, over 120 years ago, Lands’ End Manor now presents the rare opportunity for a new owner to define the next chapter in the history of this storied estate.