Lands End, a sprawling estate on the tip of Sands Point, Long Island, is set to be bulldozed to make way for a five-home subdivision on the dramatic promontory. This has some literary historians up in arms, because the mansion at Lands End has long been rumored to be the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan's house in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. (Sands Point is thought to be "East Egg," the tonier of two peninsulas in Fitzgerald's version of Long Island.) The 25-room colonial pile, built in 1902, sits in splendid isolation on thirteen acres of land. It's been on and off the market for years, most recently listed for $30 million in 2009. Dilapidated beyond the point of swift repair, developers have decided to raze the mansion and replace it with five custom homes on the property, priced at $10 million and up.
Will Baz Luhrmann, the Australian director who is remaking the movie version of Gatsby, swoop in and save the place, so that his Daisy (Carrie Mulligan) can luxuriate there in 3-D splendor? Probably not. So let's just take a moment to page through the novel to find the pages that describe the house in question:
The first time we "see" it:
Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove across to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans ... Why they came east I don't know. They had spent a year in France, for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together ... Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens — finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.
When we first see Gatsby yearning for Daisy, in the home:
I saw that I was not alone — fifty feet away a figure had emerged from the shadow of my neighbor's mansion and was standing with his hands in his pockets regarding the silver pepper of the stars. Something in his leisurely movements and the secure position of his feet upon the lawn suggested that it was Mr. Gatsby himself, come out to determine what share was his of our local heavens ... I didn't call out to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone — he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and as far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward — and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away, that might have been the end of a dock.
And then, after Daisy and Gatsby meet again:
"If it wasn't for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock."
Daisy put her arm through his abruptly but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.
And of course, if we're speaking of bulldozing:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.