Frank Sciame buys massive Gold Coast mansion. Now what?
Builder’s plans for the 32K sf Gilded Age estate are unclear
Frank Sciame is celebrating the Roaring 2020s with a Long Island estate worthy of Jay Gatsby.
The New York builder announced Tuesday that he is buying the Cashelmara Estate, a 32,000-square-foot mansion in Glen Cove, Long Island, whose owner died last year.
Sciame, the founder and CEO of Sciame Construction, didn’t say how much he agreed to pay for the property, which fronts the Long Island Sound and Glen Cove Golf Course. But the most recent asking price was $14.9 million and Max Spann Auction Company, which handled the sale, had guaranteed the seller at least $5 million.
On a per-square-foot basis, and given the location, the price was likely modest — reflecting how much work the property needs to become more than an oversized vestige of a bygone era.
“Saving this important property was a must,” Sciame said in a press release. “It is a true Gold Coast mansion with limitless potential.”
The auction firm had pitched it as a potential luxury hotel, residential condominium or corporate retreat. Sciame is open to those uses or even turning it into a workplace, said Nancy Sterling, a spokesperson for Sciame. Its industrial-sized kitchens would make it an appealing wedding venue or hotel, she added.
The buyer did make one promise, though: “Under Sciame’s ownership what it will NOT become is a tear down,” the press release declared.
In 2010, the nonprofit Preservation Long Island put Cashelmara on its first Endangered Historic Properties list. “It had fallen into some severe disrepair. There was vandalism and it was vacant,” says Sarah Kautz, the group’s preservation director. “It’s great that there’s a new owner and they’re looking into rehab and other projects.”
But the challenge of making aging, Gold Coast properties such as Cashelmara viable again is considerable. “They’re challenging. They’re large. They are expensive to operate and maintain,” Kautz said.
Sciame has experience with historic landmarks. In 2004, he bought and renovated Katharine Hepburn’s former estate in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. After six years on the market, the property sold in 2017 for a reported $11.5 million.
The builder was once chairman of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and his company has worked on a handful of restoration projects including Trinity Church in the Financial District and the Lady Chapel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Ferry and Long Island Rail Road service is nearby, and with 27 bedrooms, 12.5 bathrooms and a 1,350-square foot ballroom, the estate has room for more than a few guests. It also features two indoor tennis courts and a two-lane bowling alley. But the Hamptons has long since surpassed the Gold Coast as the uber-wealthy’s destination of choice.
The mansion was built in 1937 by New York banker William Porter for his daughter, Helen Porter Pryibil. Since 1981, it has belonged to the preservationist and petroleum baron Martin Carey, who died last June. A brother of former New York Gov. Hugh Carey, he restored a smattering of Gilded Age Gold Coast mansions, including Cashelmara in 2019 and the nearby Woolworth Estate, which is up for auction.
As Cashelmara finally passes into new hands, Kautz is hoping to be involved with its next chapter. “It’s exciting to see new things happening there,” she said.