Mansion & Campus

History

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Mill Neck Manor, a majestic Tudor Revival mansion, is set on an 86-acre scenic estate overlooking the Long Island Sound. The 34-room mansion, once called Sefton Manor, was owned by Robert Leftwich Dodge and his wife, the cosmetics heiress Lillian Sefton Dodge. The architectural firm of Clinton & Russell, Wells, Holton & George was retained in 1923 to design the home for the Dodge family which cost two million dollars to construct.

Mill Neck Manor is a two-story residence with over 34 family rooms, 16 bathrooms, many guest and service rooms. Rusticated Westchester granite blocks trimmed in limestone cover the exterior. The solid oak doorway reported to be between 400 and 500 years old is studded with iron details and unusual hardware.

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Colonel Wells designed the Manor so that light changes occupy most of the room. One memorable feature of Mill Neck Manor is the leaded stained-glass windows, a series of five Shakespearean plays overlooking the main stair landing. The windows, each at a cost of over $10,000, were executed by Charles Connick of Boston. Craftsmen from Italy and Germany were retained to detail the interiors. It took over two years to complete the plasterwork on the ceilings of the first floor main rooms.

Charles Leavitt, an outstanding local landscape architect was retained by the Dodges to design the exterior landscape. Many tulip bulbs, azaleas, mountain laurel, magnolias, Japanese cherry trees and lindens were planted to create a park-like setting. In fact, cuttings from famous German
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linden trees were planted to frame the main drive. In the mid 20s, Leavitt was commissioned to design the sunken gardens at Mill Neck Manor. These formal gardens were approached through a pair of bronze gates, called the Gate of Sun and The Gate of the Moon, both designed in Paris. The gardens were originally arranged in the form of a sundial, radiating from a central Venetian fountain. Three limestone garden structures called Temples and small water pools and rills completed Mr. Leavitt’s work at Mill Neck.

In 1949, the estate was purchased by Lutheran Friends of the Deaf, the founding organization for Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf, for $216,000. The Manor House became a residential school for the Deaf at first, and later housed a day elementary school program. Empty since the completion of a new Deaf Education Center in 2001, the Manor House has undergone beautiful enhancements from a Designer Showcase and first floor modifications, making it more functional for events.

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The Department of the Interior designated the honor of National Register of Historic Places to Mill Neck Manor for its outstanding architectural achievement. In addition, the Mill Neck Family of Organizations was honored by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities with the 2009 Preservation Award, celebrating the restoration and preservation of the Manor House. The Mill Neck Manor House is also part of the Gold Coast Mansion Alliance.