Financial History Issue 125 (Spring 2018) - Page 41

The recently restored lobby of the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. Built in 1924, the hotel — like the upstate New York city around it — fell on hard times in the late 20th century. The hotel now anchors a revived entertainment district of restaurants, pubs, theaters and shops. It was named 2017 Best City Center Historic Hotel by Historic Hotels of America. to 300. In 1996, to maintain ties to the surrounding community, members of the Cold Spring Hills and Huntington com- munities formed The Friends of Oheka, a not-for-profit corporation. Oheka joins Old Westbury Gardens, Eagle’s Nest Vanderbilt Museum and Mill Neck Manor as part of an elite group known as the “Gold Coast Mansions” on the North Shore of Long Island. Famed author F. Scott Fitzgerald captured the essence of what the mansions and muse- ums are about, inspired by the landscapes and architecture, and designed by pre- miere architects of the day. There are estates and museums Nancy admires, including the Preservation Soci- ety of Newport County. “We want to have the same feeling that Newport offers,” Nancy said. “In truth, I wanted to emu- late what they do in Newport.” There are hidden gems scattered throughout the East Coast. Nancy also praises the works of Chelsea Mansion — in East Nor- wich — and Westbury Gardens. The Vanderbilt mansion, museum and planetarium finds itself in a different financial position to sell both history and the universe. Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Suffolk County Vander- bilt Museum for seven years, said the non-profit is owned by Suffolk County. It is in Northport, Long Island, just west of Huntington. “Being owned by Suffolk County allows us to use the funding to maintain and preserve the estate,” said Reinheimer, a self-proclaimed “financial person.” When Reinheimer took the reins, his vow was to ensure that funding was managed as effectively as possible and, in essence, allow history to be sold. According to Reinheimer, the Vanderbilt operates on a $2.6 million budget supplemented by donations. While the Vanderbilt Mansion and Museum draw thousands of visitors each year, Reinheimer said the planetarium pulls in the most visitors and largely helps fund new projects, including a Hall of Fishes to honor the original owner, Wil- liam K. Vanderbilt, grandson of dynasty founder Cornelius Vanderbilt. The 43-acre waterfront Vanderbilt Museum complex counts among its col- lections more than 30,000 objects and artifacts. The grounds include the man- sion, curator’s cottage, a seaplane hangar and boathouse, antique household fur- nishings, decorative and f ine art, and the archives. The goal, said Reinheimer, is to entice people to come back. “We need to give visitors something more each time,” he said. William Vanderbilt created what the museum states to be one of the world’s most extensive, privately assembled col- lections from the  pre-atomic era — in his own marine museum, the Hall of Fishes, which he opened to the public in 1922. He established a trust fund to finance the operation of the museum and deeded it to Suffolk County, New York, upon his death in 1944. The county opened the museum to the public in 1950. Wings of the mansion house galleries of his natural history and cultural artifact collections, as well as the habitat with its nine wild animal and marine life dioramas created by artisans from the American Museum of Natural History.  Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist, principal of Enter- prise & Industry Historic Research (www.enterpriseandindustry.com) and an active member of the Museum’s edito- rial board. Tara Patrick is an experienced journalist covering travel, sports, entertainment, business and fashion. www.MoAF.org  |  Spring 2018  |  FINANCIAL HISTORY  39