The Woolworth mansion, one of the most iconic homes in the United States, went up in flames on Wednesday. The mansion was built in 1916 by five-and-dime store magnate F.W. Woolworth after his other home also went up in flames. The house is widely rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth’s daughter, who committed suicide in one of the rooms.
The house, which sits on a 16-acre estate, caught fire on Wednesday morning and was fully engulfed in flames by the time a groundskeeper noticed and alerted the fire department. It took 150 firefighters from 10 different departments to put the fire out, and one person was hospitalized for carbon monoxide inhalation. Just to get down the mansion’s driveway was a challenge, as it is a quarter of a mile long.
Current residents of the Woolworth mansion weren’t in the 25,000-square-foot home when the fire broke out, and there have been no reports that it was suspicious.
Nassau County Fire Marshall investigations unit supervisor James Hickman said that the financial damage will likely be tremendous. Some of the damage to the mansion will be difficult to measure in dollars and cents, as the historic value of items in the mansion and the building itself are enormous.
Hickman said that the Woolworth mansion has particularly valuable woodwork, and items like an oriental rug are also high.
After the first Woolworth mansion burned down, F.W. Woolworth built the Long Island beauty in the Italian Renaissance style. Woolworth was one of America’s turn-of-the-century moguls who made his fortune with the F.W. Woolworth Co., known for its “five-and-dime” stores that sold little items for five to ten cents. The stores, which often also had lunch counters, were the precursors to the modern day dollar stores.
In 1913, Woolworth constructed New York City’s Woolworth Building for $13.5 million. It was the tallest building in the world at the time at 792 feet.
Though the fire at the mansion was not considered suspicious, investigators still don’t know how it started. It’s been owned by the family of Martin Carey, brother of former NY Governor Hugh Carey, since 1978. The Woolworth mansion has 13 fireplaces and six bathrooms. Much of the damage was on the second and third floors, as well as a first-floor bedroom that was completely gutted.
Chandeliers, vases, oriental rugs, and other valuable items were lost just a few years after a 2010 renovation of the Woolworth mansion that cost several hundred thousands of dollars.
[Image via ABC News]