Adieu, Sweet Life of ’20s Luxury





In its heyday, it was the epitome of an era that haunts us still as a fleeting moment of America on the cusp of something it never quite duplicated or achieved — money with style, sin that seemed innocent, human-scale pleasures, a jazz-inflected version of the American dream minus today’s cynicism and rust....

There was croquet on the 13 acres of lawn, illumined by car headlights and parties at all hours for what Swope’s wife, Margaret, described as “an absolutely seething bordello of interesting people.” They included Bernard Baruch, George Gershwin, Robert Moses, the Marx Brothers, Irving Berlin, Vanderbilts, Whitneys and Harrimans. It’s the world F. Scott Fitzgerald captured in “The Great Gatsby,”which still seems fresh and urgent almost — remarkably — a century later.

So it’s no surprise that the world’s Fitzgerald-ologists and experts on Long Island’s faded luxe life are being besieged with queries about a 25-room, 20,000-square-foot Colonial Revival mansion called Lands End that is said, in part, to have inspired “Gatsby,” and is now facing demolition so the property can be subdivided for five more modest houses, at $10 million or so each....


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