A ‘haunted’ New York mansion that featured in Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video and comes complete with its very own clock tower is now headed to auction – at a discounted price.
The historic property, which was once owned by entrepreneur Frank Winfield Woolworth, is located in Long Island and will be available to bid on later this month.
Having failed to sell for its initial asking price of $19.95 million, the sprawling house will now go up on the block, with bids starting at $7 million – meaning that it could well prove an impressive real estate bargain for one lucky buyer.
Known as Winfield Hall – but also sometimes called Woolworth Mansion – it was designed by famous architect C. P. H. Gilbert. The property was built in 1917 for Woolworth, founder of the original US-based Woolworth store, who also worked with the architect on the design and construction of the famous Woolworth Building in New York City.
Own a piece of history: The iconic Woolworth mansion in Long Island, New York, is going up for auction on July 12, with a starting bid of $7 million – having previously been put up for sale with an asking price of $19.95 million
Proceed with caution: The sprawling estate is one of the few remaining privately-owned estates from the Gilded Age, however it has also been the subject of much paranormal speculation
Spacious: Construction on the property – which boasts a clock tower building-turned-11-car garage (pictured), began in 1916 and was completed one year later, having been designed by famed architect C. P. H. Gilbert
Unique: Many of the estate’s original architecture remains, including plenty of marble statues and buildings that are located throughout the 16.4-acre property and grounds
Claim to fame: When it was first built, the mansion, which boasts 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms, was said to have been the biggest home in the whole US
When it was first built, the mansion was said to be the largest home in the whole of the US, and while it no longer holds that title, it still boasts an impressive array of rooms, amenities, and unique interior touches.
The impressive 32,000 sq ft building has a total of 56 rooms, including 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms and 16 fireplaces.
There is also a butterfly marble staircase that would have cost approximately $2 million when it was first built.
History and property buffs will also be thrilled by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rescue a Gilded Age Mansion, one of a number of properties in the United States built by the wealthiest families between 1870 and the early 1900s.
Included in the sale is 16.4 acres of grounds including sweeping lawns with classical-style features.
There is also a 15,000 sq ft clock tower building with enough space to store 11 cars, which has previously been used as staff residences and office space.
Familiar? The property earned further notoriety in 2014 when it featured in Swift’s Blank Space music video
Spot the difference! The popstar filmed several scenes in the mansion, making full use of the property’s stunning interior
Cheers! One scene saw Taylor enjoying a feast in the mansion’s dining room, where she set up a lengthy table filled with food
Film set: This front entryway was also used in the filming of the music video
Upset: The popstar recorded a particularly emotional moment in the marble-filled space, leaning against one of the mansion’s many fireplaces while she sobbed on the floor
Strike a pose: It is also thought that this scene was shot in the mansion, although images of this area have not been released ahead of the July 12 auction
However, it is probably best known as the setting for Taylor Swift’s MTV award-winning music video.
In the video, the star can be seen living in an opulent mansion and playing house with model Sean O’Pry.
The fairytale building formed the backdrop for several scenes, including Swift’s dining room featuring an enormous chandelier, wood-paneled ceiling and white marble fireplace.
The mansion also featured in a scene where Swift and O’Pry slow danced in black tie.
A separate shot showed Swift singing with tear-stained cheeks in a leopard dress next to an ornate fireplace.
As well as being used as a home and music video set, Winfield Hall also served as a modelling and airline stewardess school for young women in the 1960s.
But though the property was most recently used as the set of a glamorous music video, it has a much darker history, having been the subject of decades of rumors about paranormal activity and ghost sightings.
Luxurious: When the property was built, no expense was spared, and this butterfly marble staircase is said to have cost a staggering $2 million when it was first installed
Retro: There are several wood-paneled rooms in the property, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Woolworth’s daughter Edna, who is believed to have killed herself in the home in May 1917
Going, going, gone: The home was most recently owned by Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the property in 1978. He died in June 2020, and the mansion is now being auctioned as part of his estate
Rooms on rooms: The mansion boasts 12 bedrooms, 9.5 bathrooms, and 16 fireplaces
Mysterious: The property was seriously damaged by a fire that ripped through several of its rooms in 2015 – in an eerily similar accident to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s previous home
Potential: Auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co is offering potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’
Special: The home’s ornate interior makes it a particularly intriguing property for anyone with an interest in architecture
It has long been speculated the the sprawling mansion is ‘haunted’ by the spirit of Woolworth’s late daughter, Edna, who committed suicide on May 2, 1917, shortly after the property’s build was completed.
It is claimed she took her own life at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, though many believe the never-unlocked ‘Marie Antoinette’ room in the mansion was in fact the place of Edna’s death, while her father was hosting a party.
Shortly before the incident, a crack appeared in the marble family crest above the fireplace – and there has long been speculation that it was caused by a bolt of lightning, which struck the house and left a representation of her face, according to Newsday.
‘Furthermore, one of the most frequently told tales concerning the Woolworth mansion holds that a bolt of lightning struck the house the day before her passing, cracking a representation of Edna’s face in a family crest carved into a stone mantel – an event considered a supernatural omen of her unexpected demise,’ the publication reported in 2018.
Noises have been heard, ‘spirit sightings’ have been reported, and visitors claimed they heard a woman crying in the Marie Antoinette room.
Looking back: Woolworth, who made his fortune by founding a chain of ‘five-and-dime’ stores, commissioned the property after his former home burned to the ground. It is pictured in 1920, three years after its completion
Remaining true: Much of the original architecture remains in the mansion, including the many fireplaces and the ornate marble interiors
Plenty of room! The grounds also feature several different structures, including several archways, which are said to have been inspired by Woolworth’s fascination with Napoleon
Famous: The property was designed by the same architect who worked with Woolworth (left) on the construction of the iconic Woolworth Building (right), which was listed as the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930
It has also been alleged that Woolworth had ‘an obsession with the occult’ and that he incorporated several mythical symbols into the interior design of the property.
‘Speculation that F.W. Woolworth had an obsession with the occult and that he had mystic symbols placed within the interior design is also part of the legends that have been attached to the house, as well as reports of hidden rooms and tunnels woven throughout the structure,’ Newsday claimed.
Then, in January 2015, the lavish home was gutted by a mysterious fire that ripped through several rooms in the property in an eerily similar blaze to the one that destroyed Woolworth’s first home – prompting him to begin work on Winfield Hall.
The blaze, which erupted at around 11am in a first-floor bedroom, caused millions of dollars worth of damage. However, the mansion has since been returned to its former glory and is now set to be auctioned off on July 12 by Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co.
According to the real estate auction site, the property is part of the estate of its late owner Martin T. Carey, brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, who bought the mansion in 1978. He passed away in June 2020.
Although the auction listing for the property offers potential bidders a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity to rehabilitate an existing Golden Age mansion’, which is one of the ‘few remaining privately owned estate homes of this era’, it has also been suggested that the estate could easily be ‘repurposed’ or ‘subdivided’ by any buyer looking to turn it into a more profitable property.