The Realms Of Gould


Mr. Case, though one of a dwindling minority in Tarrytown who remembers and appreciates Miss Gould and her good works, has never retreated by so much as a single “whereas” from the petition of which he was the most vigorous and sincere exponent. The petition itself, presented in the midst of a presidential election campaign, was doomed to be a futile gesture. Congress was in no mood to spend time on soothing the wounded pride and pocketbook of a small community in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties.

On October 30 Surrogate Cox formally approved the compromise agreement between the National Trust and the heirs of the Duchesse. Lyndhurst and some 450 of its original domain of 550 acres were now incontestably the property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the duly authorized custodian of the true owner, the people of the United States. The remaining acres went to the heirs as a consolation for giving up one of their ancestral homes. Even Tarrytown was somewhat mollified when it was announced that nearly four hundred acres would be sold by the National Trust, with the proceeds to be used to set up a permanent endowment fund for the benefit of Lyndhurst. When it was sold, in September of the following year, for subdivision as a residential development, it netted less than expected: only $1,250,000. Mr. Case and his fellow trustees could hardly be expected to refrain from pointing out that in their petition they had warned of just such an outcome.

It is true that the income from a conservatively managed $1,250,000 trust fund may be inadequate to support Lyndhurst in the style to which it became accustomed during the long reign of the Goulds. But the pride of the National Trust in its properties and the diligence and ingenuity of its staff should not be discounted. In any event, Lyndhurst is at last as secure as it is possible to be from the normal legal and financial perils that beset mortal man.

Lyndhurst was opened to the public in June, 1965, and was officially dedicated on May 20, 1966. Governor Nelson Rockefeller was the principal speaker at the dedication ceremonies, and his presence drew a line of wellmannered pickets outside the entrance gates protesting not against Lyndhurst but against the proposed Hudson River Expressway. “Millions For Roads,” read some of the bitter placards, “Not One Cent For Beauty!” Among the pickets was Jay Gould’s nemesis, George B. Case, still tilting at the windmills of “big” government’s encroaching on the rights of local communities to govern themselves. This time he was on Lyndhurst’s side. The expressway, as originally planned, would have violated Lyndhurst’s territorial rights along the riverfront where the yacht landing used to be.

The star of this auspicious occasion in the life of what Mr. Hone had too hastily predicted would one day be known as “Paulding’s Folly” was Diane de Castellane, Duchesse de Mouchy. Madame de Mouchy, one of the granddaughters of Anna Gould and Boni de Castellane, was filled with pride and enthusiasm. Now that the legal strife was over, she had become an ardent supporter of the preservation of Lyndhurst. Her grandmother would have been overjoyed. This happy ending to what had once appeared to be an inevitably sad story was undoubtedly a truer expression of the real wishes of the former Anna Gould than the codicil made under such dire circumstance. Long live Lyndhurst!