Home / National News / A Look at the Russian Compounds Nestled in New York and Washington, DC Suburbs

 

(NEW YORK) — On a sprawling 37-acre site on Long Island’s Gold Coast sits a mansion that was once owned by Standard Oil heir George DuPont Pratt.

Hundreds of miles away, in Centreville, Maryland, lies a 45-acre bucolic retreat, complete with a 33-room house that has a vault for fur and 3,000-bottle wine cellar.

Aside from offering what appeared to be pinnacle of luxury on some of the most desired pieces of land, the estates have another thing in common — they’re complexes owned and used by Russian governmental officials.

On Friday the White House announced that both will be shuttered as of Friday at noon in retaliation for a series of cyberattacks that targeted U.S. political institutions during the election.

Here’s a look at the history of each of the dachas.

Killenworth Estate on Long Island, New York

One Russian-owned compound is located in New York, according to the White House. The location in question is called Killenworth — a 37-acre estate formerly owned by George Dupont Pratt on Long Island’s Glen Cove.

Killenworth is now used as the House of the Russian Delegation to the United Nations, according to the Library of Congress.

The Tudor-style estate was built in the early 1900s and was bought by the Soviet Union in 1951, according to the New York Times. For decades, the Russians have used it as a weekend retreat for UN staff and to house visitors.

Killenworth was featured in a 1960 Chicago Tribune article titled “Mansions House World Diplomats,” which noted that most were exempt from paying taxes.

The non-payment of taxes had been an issue for the city of Glen Cove ever since the Soviets moved into the compound, according to a 1982 story from the New York Times.

In 1970, the Soviets risked amassing tax liens on the property for refusing to pay property taxes for two decades — on and off, according to an article published in the Chicago Tribune in 1970. At the time, the mayor of Glen Cove said the Russians owed $49,913,44 in local property and school taxes.

But the Soviets maintained that they were exempt from tax under state law, according to the paper. Similarly, in 1966 the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. obtained a consular agreement at the time exempting them from taxes, an agreement that the mayor of Glen Cove did not see as binding.

In the early 1980s, reports circulated that Killenworth was being used by the Soviets to spy on Long Island’s defense industry, according to an article published in United Press International in 1984.

According to UPI, this touched off a battle between the city of Glen Cove, the Russians and the U.S. federal government. The Soviets, in turn, refused to allow American diplomatic personnel there to use a beach outside Moscow, the report said.

For two years, the Soviets were banned from using the city of Glen Cove’s beaches, golf courses and tennis courts in response to those reports, UPI reported.

“This estate is a listening post for the Soviet Union but our government is aware of that fact and chooses to ignore it,” the mayor, Alan Parente, said at the time, according to UPI. “If it is used for spying, this residence is not entitled to tax exemption.”

A 1987 New York Times story described the house as “austere and sparsely furnished” with “only a few of the lush trappings associated with turn-of-the-century elegance on the North Shore.”

“The property is very picturesque and two families live here on a permanent basis. There is a swimming pool and facilities for sports,” Aleksandr Belonogov, the chief Soviet delegate to the U.N. told the paper.

Pioneer Point in Centreville, Maryland

The Russian-owned compound in Maryland is a 45-acre retreat on Pioneer Point, a peninsula where the Corsica and Chester rivers merge. The luxury retreat is being shut down due to alleged Russian espionage, The Washington Post reported.

As of Friday evening, Google Maps labeled the “Russian Embassy’s Country Retreat” as “permanently closed.” Google classified the property as an assisted living facility.

Pioneer Point was the estate of former DuPont and General Motors executive John J. Raskob, according to the Hagley Museum and Library. Raskob is best known for building the Empire State Building.

In 1972, the Soviet government paid $1.2 million — in cash — for two Raskob mansions to be used as a vacation spot for diplomats, The New York Times reported. At the time, a local newspaper reported “fears of nuclear submarines surfacing in the Chester River to pick up American Secrets and defectors,” according to the Washington Post. But, the abundance of dinner parties, caviar and vodka eventually won the locals over.

The property included 33 rooms, 13 fireplaces, a refrigerated storage vault for fur and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar. Also featured on the property were about a mile of sandy beach, a swimming pool, two tennis courts, soccer fields and a goldfish pond, according to the Times.

The Russian occupants later added to the estate by making a deal with the U.S. State Department, which received two properties in Moscow in return, according to the Washington Post.

Obama expelled 35 Russian nationals and sanctioned five Russian entities and four individuals for the “acting in a manner inconsistent with their diplomatic status,” the White House said. The president said the actions “follow repeated private and public warnings” that have been issued to the Russian government, adding that they are a “necessary and appropriate” response to “efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

Russia has vowed to retaliate against American actions Friday.

“We will certainly response adequately…and it will be determined in line with decisions adopted by the Russian President,” Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov told reporters.

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