The New York-based Russian intelligence compound that President Obama ordered to be shut down in the wake of the Democratic National Committee hacking incident turns out to be a sprawling mansion in Glen Cove, Long Island, which was built for George duPont Pratt of the Standard Oil and Pratt Institute Pratts.
Many residents of the ritzy North Shore town had no idea that the estate, called Killenworth, has actually been a "longtime getaway for Russian diplomats [that] was also used for Russian intelligence purposes, according to U.S. government officials," reports NBC New York, which spoke to some of the neighbors.
"I didn't even really know. It's kinda really scary, in your own backyard," one local said. Another was privy to it, saying, "Ever since the late '70s, that's when I knew about it... Never seen any activity there. Gates open, gates close, and that's it."
The mansion, which was built in 1912 (winning "best country home" design honors from the American Institute of Architects), was bought by the Soviet Union as a weekend home for the delegation to the United Nations. There's even an old LIFE magazine photograph of Nikita Khrushchev on the grounds.
Wikimapia page for Killenworth NY estate seized today names it a "country home of the Russian delegation to the UN" - so, Churkin's dacha? pic.twitter.com/JIxKFqRdBW
— Хуевый аналитик (@Mortis_Banned) December 29, 2016
Then, in the 1980s, United Press International noted that it was believed Killenworth was a base for Soviet spying on Long Island's defense industry; from ABC News:
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."
Today, the NY Times says, "The estate is often nearly empty, according to law enforcement officials, inhabited year-round by just a few Russian caretakers. Protected by a chain-link fence, the mansion has stone peaks that poke into the sky. Thick brush obstructs the view of the bottom half of the house. Angelina Izzo, who works as a receptionist at a health care center next to the estate, said the mansion was 'very quiet.'"
Killenworth is located on Dosoris Lane. If the street sounds familiar to movie buffs, it should: It's where the Larrabees and Sabrina Fairchild lived:
And a 1959 spy thrilled featured a mysterious Glen Cove mansion—North by Northwest, which filmed at George duPont Pratt's brother's estate, The Manor. Guess screenwriter Ernest Lehman knew what was up.