West Island, Glen Cove, Long Island, New York

Completed in 1929, for Junius Spencer Morgan III (1892-1960) and his wife, Louise Converse (1895-1974). There are few more historic nor luxurious estates in the state of New York than this one on Long Island's North Shore. Salutation is a 45-room mansion at the center of West Island - the same that served as a refuge for a grieving Jackie Kennedy in the summer of 1964, and is said to have inspired "West Egg" in The Great Gatsby. But, whereas many similar estates have claimed to be the inspiration for Gatsby's mansion, perhaps none can lay claim to having had their very own Gatsby in residence as Salutation has: the rise and fall of John S. Samuels III - grandfather of the lead singer of "Florence and the Machine" - is an astonishing tale in itself. Salutation enjoys a sweeping view over Long Island Sound to the Manhattan skyline and has starred in Sydney Pollack's Sabrina; HBO's drama Succession; and NBC's mini-series Deception. Salutation and the rest of West Island was listed for sale in 2017 for $125-million....

This house is best associated with...

Junius Spencer Morgan III

Capt. Junius S. Morgan III, U.S.N., of 'Salutation' Glen Cove, Long Island, N.Y.


Louise (Converse) Morgan

Mrs Emma "Louise" (Converse) Morgan


John Stockwell Samuels III

John S. Samuels III, of Galveston, Texas; New York; and, Bahrain


Ellen (Richards) Samuels

Mrs Ellen Kathleen (Richards) Samuels


Margo (Geer) Walker

Mrs Margaret Kane (Geer) Walker, of West Island, Glen Cove, New York


Michel David-Weill

Chairman of Lazard Frères & Co., New York & Paris


Junius was the eldest son of the only son of "America's greatest banker," J.P. Morgan. He dutifully turned up to work every day at the family bank, but given the choice he would have been a marine architect. A colleague recalled him as, "the nicest man you've ever known (but) he didn't know anything about banking and it was pitiful to watch him". His wife, Louise, was a Boston Brahmin, the daughter of the celebrated composer Frederick S. Converse; a niece of the "not-so-proper Bostonian", Marie Tudor Garland; and, a great-granddaughter of the "Ice King" Frederic Tudor. Depending on who you listened to, Louise was either "pushy and spoiled" or an eccentric artist who Junius frequently had to persuade not to "touch-up" John Singer Sargent's portrait of his mother, Jessie Morgan.

Junius and Louise were married in 1915 and as a wedding present the groom's father built them Apple Trees - adjacent to his own estate at Matinecock Point - delighted that Louise had made his son, "absolutely the most satisfied and contented person I ever saw". Apple Trees and the house built for Junius' sister (Round Bush) were both designed in the Tudor-Revival style at the same time, by the same architect, Roger H. Bullard.

West Island - the World's Least Renowned "World Renowned Arboretum"?

The Matinecock Point estate covered all of East Island and sits next door to West Island that before 1900 was more often than not referred to as "Dosoris". In Latin, Dosoris translates to 'Wife's Dowry,' so named by the Rev. Benjamin Woolsey for the house he built here in 1745 on the island that became his when he married Abigail Taylor. In 1873, West Island was acquired by Charles A. Dana, editor and co-owner of The New York Sun, and under him Dosoris became, "probably Long Island's most famous country place".

Dana personally oversaw the transformation of West Island into a, "world renowned arboretum," with rare trees from America, Europe and Asia. Aside from bringing in America's pre-eminent landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted, to lay out a network of winding paths through which to enjoy this "fairyland of trees and flowers," Dana also brought in a specialist to live here year round whose job it was to acclimatize the foreign species. He welcomed arboriculturists from all over the country to study and admire what he planted here, including such unlikely and romantic specimens as the oaks grown from acorns found on the tomb of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

The bucolic 'island' - that is all but an island except for a narrow causeway connecting it to the mainland - is comprised of 46-acres with a 28-acre pond. Charles Dana died in 1897 and in 1905 his only son, Paul Dana (a member of Mrs Astor's hallowed Four Hundred), divided the island into two properties. He kept the larger part for himself (31-acres) and sold off what remained (the 15-acres which included his father's old frame house) to William Lamon Harkness, of Cleveland, one of the heirs to the Standard Oil fortune.

Paul Dana died in 1930, but when he announced shortly before his death that he was selling up his 31-acres of leafy paradise, it was too good an opportunity for the Morgans to miss and Junius's father snapped up the land on his son's behalf. The Morgans would share West Island with the Harkness family up until Mrs Harkness died in 1947.

The Big House Designed by the Award-Winning Architect of Small Houses

In 1928, after selling Apple Trees, the services of Roger H. Bullard were once again called upon to build the Morgan's new home on West Island, this time more similar in style to the Neo-Georgian Matinecock Point. That Bullard was so frequently called upon by the Morgan family was not a coincidence: the architect had had the good fortune to marry Annie Adams Sturges who was a niece of J.P. Morgan's first wife, Mimi (Sturges) Morgan.

Somewhat ironically, although Bullard gained a reputation for large mansions and clubhouses built for the Gilded elite, the only award he won in his career - cut tragically short in 1935 - was the gold medal at the Small House Architectural Competition in 1934.

A Wall Against the Tide of Depression

Despite the architect's accolade, there was nothing small about "Salutation" - and being completed in the same year as the Wall Street Crash some interpreted its grandeur as an overt message to all investors that the House of Morgan was as secure as ever. 

Covering 27,000-square feet, the 45-room mansion features an 80-foot long hallway with slate and marble floors. Occupying the alcoves interspersed along the hall's length were a collection of vast glazed pottery figures from the Ming Dynasty - China's ruling dynasty from the 14th to the 17th Century. Today, there are 16-bedrooms, 16-bathrooms and 8-reception rooms, including a Dining Room that can comfortably accommodate up to 100 guests. There's a private beach, a 700-foot sea wall, an historic 250-foot long dock, two swimming pools (indoors and outdoors), two tennis courts (indoors and outdoors), two helicopter pads, stables, paddocks, an 8-car garage, and various other outbuildings.

When the Morgans lived here, Ron Chernow described it in his book The House of Morgan as, "a place of faded elegance and English furnishings". Included among Junius' treasured collection of antique model ships and nautical books, Salutation was loaded with antiques, many of which had once embellished his great-grandfather's country home in England, Dover House. The 20-acres of formal gardens were enjoyed not only by the Morgans and their three children, but by the dozens of Golden Labradors Louise bred here too.

The Unaffected Billionaires

In April, 1960, Junius and Louise hosted a party for 800-guests to celebrate the first anniversary of the historic merger of the Guaranty Trust Company with J.P. Morgan & Co. that saw the House of Morgan regain its status as the world's largest wholesale bank with $4-billion in deposits. Quite unaffected and with a deference that only comes with 'old money,' the senior member of the Morgan family greeted his guests at Salutation in an old patched jacket while his wife did the same in a cardigan with a noticeable hole.

Sadly, it was to be their last hurrah. Six months later, Junius was dead and his widow lived here quietly until a few years before her death in December, 1974. Both the estate itself and its contents were disposed of while she was still living. In May, 1974, a four day auction held by Sotheby's Parke-Bernet brought queues of people competing for, "furniture, decorations, porcelain, silver, Chinese works of Art, Audubon prints, Oriental rugs, carpets, ship models, Coromandel screens, and other decorative objects".

Jackie Kennedy's Refuge from Grief

Not long after the Morgan's only neighbor, Mrs Harkness, died in 1947 they purchased the remaining 'half' of West Island from her heirs and after converting Dosoris into a guest house, allowed three of their friends to build houses here. It was in one of those houses - The Creek House - that a grieving Jackie Kennedy retreated to for the summer of 1964 while her brother-in-law, Bobby Kennedy, rented another estate nearby.

John S. Samuels III: the Living Embodiment of Jay Gatsby?

The Morgans were happy to live here quietly in "faded elegance," but its new owner had very different ideas. If there was ever such a thing as the living embodiment of F. Scott Fitzgerald's fictitious character Jay Gatsby, then John S. Samuels III may well have been it.

The handsome and charming son of a Texas postman, through a one-off investment in 1973 of a mere few hundred thousand dollars, John Samuels won (and then subsequently lost) a business empire that at its peak in early 1979 was valued at $200-300-million - making him almost quite literally overnight one of the richest people in America.

Purchasing Salutation in the fall of 1974 gave him a suitable pedestal from which to entertain and he now put his mind - and money - towards making a name for himself in society as a patron of the arts. By 1978, he was Chairman of the New York City Center, the New York Opera, the New York Ballet Company, and the Vivian Beaumont Theater; and, hiring Richmond Crinkley, he formed an artistic brain trust to oversee his vision with Woody Allen, Edward Albee, Ellis Rabb, Sarah Caldwell, Robin Phillips and Liviu Ciulei.

"This is very much a Georgian house, and it calls out for classic English pieces"

In 1976, Samuels was asked why he had bought Salutation, replying, "because I always knew the Morgans took care of their property," while also admitting that he had no idea how many rooms there were - "do you count the servants' rooms?"

The impression given/reported of the house today is that the décor has remained "largely unchanged" since the Morgans lived here. But, according to an article in The New York Times, it was, "a labor of love for (Samuels) to refurbish the empty house... Walking through the great hall, a visitor notes immaculate tapestries, reportedly created for Cardinal Barberini in the reign of Louis XIII, lining the walls. At opposite ends of the dining room are two major English paintings, a portrait of Mrs Eyre by Joshua Reynolds and a William Beechey portrait of Ellen Smith. Mr Samuels says his taste in furnishings (eg., a modern-art collection stuffed with Warhols) can best be called eclectic, but his wife said, "We formerly had modern paintings in the dining room, and they talked right back to us. This is very much a Georgian house, and it calls out for classic English pieces".

Partying with Andy Warhol, Nona Summers & the Kennedys

Andy Warhol became a close friend of Samuels' son, the actor John Stockwell (he dropped his surname around about 1980) and Warhol recalled a visit to Salutation in July, 1981: "He invited me to his father's house over on West Island in Glen Cove... It's the ninety room Morgan house and there's like thirty guests and one servant - Nona Summers was saying how she mentioned she'd like breakfast in bed and everybody laughed at her. And John Samuels told me how Michael Kennedy was swinging on the chandelier, but then when you go to his house they say, "Don't touch that - it'll break!" and they're pointing at some cheap chair. He says that they save all their destruction for when they go visiting, that that's why they're always so rowdy wherever they go - because they're so careful around their own things. All the kids were dancing and swimming naked...".

A Midsummer's Dream: "It Should Always be a Summer Night"

While a guest of the Samuels here in June, 1976, Christine Redpath (Ballet Master with the New York City Ballet Company and who played a ballet mistress in the movie Black Swan) said of Salutation, "this place was made for long chiffon gowns and champagne, and it should always be a summer night". Life here for the Samuels was in many ways just as magical and as fleeting as a midsummer's dream. By 1981, Samuels' rapidly accumulated empire was imploding. The luxury homes he'd enjoyed for a less than a decade were being liquidated, such as his townhouse on 79th Street - once the home of Marietta Tree - foreclosed on and sold on the courtroom steps that May. Salutation was to be no exception and it was eventually put up for auction by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 1993. The house and 21.5-acres were sold for $9-million to Margo Walker, when the New York Magazine reported that John S. Samuels III was to be found, "detained in Bahrain indefinitely".

Margo Walker, Queen Consort of West Island

Margo Walker's familial connection to Long Island stretches back to when her great-grandfather, Grenville Kane, built a showpiece mansion at Little Neck Bay. The former wife of David H. Walker, since 1979 she has been the acknowledged mistress of the Franco-American banker, Michel David-Weill. As the longtime Chairman of Lazard Frères & Co., it was Michel who personally oversaw the bank's rapid growth that left its traditional rivals in the dust. It was also Michel who financed Margo's takeover of West Island - "fees for services rendered" was the caustic remark of one former Lazard partner.

The takeover began with the purchase of three of the five houses on West Island. Then, after netting Salutation in 1993, she completed her quiet conquest in 2000 with the acquisition of the fifth and final house. According to William Cohan's book, The Last Tycoons, Margo rented the houses out to, "a well-heeled crowd (mainly bankers), once they passed muster with her". Those known to have taken houses here include Stephen Volk, Richard Plepner, Jeff Sechrest, Robert Agostinelli, Steve Langman, and Luis Rinaldini. But, she's disappointed just as many who could not coax her into selling.

Margo and Michel are socially discreet in deference to his wife back in Paris, and little can be gleaned of Margo except for two remarks made about her in an article on Michel in Vanity Fair. A 'friend' revealed that, "she has this house with birds that fly around inside," while a 'fashion editor' described her as, "a total eccentric (but) still the complete sweater girl, always perfectly groomed". Despite her eccentricities, her patience and 'services' have paid off. In 2017, she placed the whole island up for sale at $125 million.

Salutation Today

In addition to renting Salutation, in 1995 Margo allowed it to be used in the romantic comedy directed by Sydney Pollack, Sabrina, as the mansion of Linus Larrabee played by Harrison Ford. More recently from 2013 it was used in the NBC mini-series Deception and from 2018 it starred as "Tern Haven," the Pierce family home in the HBO series Succession. As of 2021, Salutation and the rest of West Island appear to have been sold. 

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 12/12/2021 and last updated on 20/12/2021.
The House of Morgan (2010), by Ron Chernow; Sydney Pollack Meets J.P. Morgan (October 1994), New York Magazine; The Last Tycoons (2008), by William D. Cohan; The Andy Warhol Diaries (2009), by Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett; New York Magazine, February 1984; Suit Alleges John Samuels Sold Painting Included in Collateral (March 26, 1981) The New York Times; Michel David-Weill and the Succession Drama at Lazard Freres (1997) by Suzanna Andrews for Vanity Fair; Cleveland Man Buys C.A. Dana's Old Home (1905), Brooklyn Daily Eagle; The Life of Charles Henry Dana, by John Harrison Wilson; The Archives of The New York Times; Private Island off the North Shore of Long Island lists for $125m, Hamptons Curbed; Salutations Estate from Succession, Scene Therapy; Three Random Houses, by the late great John Foreman; Salutation Sales Brochure, 2017: Daniel Gale & Sotheby's on 


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