Given such enthusiastic words and images, it is hardly surprising that in
1906 New York City banker, Thomas Gerald Comden, purchased a large tract of
land in Shinnecock Hills and commissioned society architect Grosvenor
Atterbury to create a country estate in the English Arts and crafts style.
The house replaced a five-story house, described as a "monstrosity" by one
neighbor, owned by J. Romain Brown, which had burned to the ground in one
of the many fires which swept through the brush of the Hills.
The estate originally included the main house set on a hilltop surrounded by sweeping lawns and expansive vistas of Shinnecock Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and even glimpses of Peconic Bay to the north a swell as a water tower, a laundry and servants' quarters. Thomas Comden spent a fortune, reported to be a million pre-income tax dollars, landscaping the grounds, including trucking in a 15" layer of top soil - resulting in the lushness of its vegetation compared to the surrounding area.
During the Depression, the property was sold for $17,000. In the early 1940's, the water tower, laundry and servants' quarters burned to the ground due to a terrible fire caused by the explosion of an oil burner. The house was saved due to the fortitude of the fire department which laid hoses down to Shinnecock Bay for water.
Architect Grosvenor Atterbury would have approved for the changes caused by the fire since he always felt that these outbuildings detracted from the design of the main house. Atterbury studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and apprenticed with Stanford White, architect of artist William Merritt Chases's nearby summer house. Designer of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Atterbury is noted locally for the neighboring residence (destroyed by fire) of Dr. Albert H. Ely, frequently visited by President Harding; the Claflin house which still stands and serves as the centerpiece of the Southampton Campus of Long Island University; the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton and the 1915 addition of the Rogers Memorial Library.
Atterbury was the son of railroad lawyer, Charles Atterbury, who knowing that the Long Island Railroad would be extended to Sag Harbor by 1870 started buying property. He built his own rustic summer "cottage" high on a hill in Shinnecock. The house burnt in 1929 due to the carelessness of a plumber who left a blow torch unattended.
Over the years there have been many additions to Andros Hills, including a pool house and a guest house built overlooking enclosed gardens.
Mr. and Mrs. Basil Goulandris of Greece spent May and early June at Andros Hills from 1951 through the late 1980's. Renaming the estate after the island of Andros in the Cyclades where Mr. Goulandris was born, they welcomed and entertained many diplomats, political leaders, movie stars and socialites from Greece and around the world every summer.