1913: Whitlock’s Folly

Casnova Mansion

Once located on the southeastern tip of the Bronx, this mansion was built by Benjamin Morris Whitlock in 1859. Sitting on a fifty-acre estate, the structure boasted a hundred rooms and was said to have cost $350,000 (about $9.5 million in 2016). The entrance to the grounds featured a drawbridge and a large iron gateway operated by hidden springs that would seem to open magically. A labyrinth of wells, tunnels, and wine cellars snaked below it.

Whitlock, a pro-slavery southerner, went bankrupt after the Civil War, and the mansion was sold in 1867 to a Cuban sugar importer by the name of Inocencio Casanova; by 1913the date of this photohowever, the estate had become abandoned and the mansion surrendered to the decay of time. (Sources here and here.)

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