Roslyn High School students Isabella Santos ,16, left, and Hannah...

Roslyn High School students Isabella Santos ,16, left, and Hannah Bailey, 16, created paintings to cover windows at the historic Mackay Estate Gate Lodge instead of plywood as the landmark, located in East Hills, undergoes a restoration. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Isabella Santos and Hannah Bailey both envision art as part of their futures. 

Whatever directions their careers take, both Roslyn High School rising seniors said they'll look back on June 13 as an important step in their journeys.

That day, the pair, both 16, publicly presented four paintings they helped create as part of the nonprofit Roslyn Landmark Society's restoration of the Mackay Estate Gate Lodge in East Hills — a historic property the village owns. 

The paintings, which replaced plywood coverings where windows used to be, were unveiled during a ceremony in front of about 25 people, Santos said.

Window art

  • Two Roslyn students created paintings to serve as window coverings during the restoration of a historic landmark in East Hills.
  • Nonprofit officials estimate the total restoration at village-owned Mackay Estate Gate Lodge will exceed the $312,000 estimate from 2017.

“It’s definitely rewarding to have people appreciate what you created,” said Santos.

Her father, John Santos, 54, is co-president of the nonprofit. He said he grew up on a farm in Chaves, Portugal, and learned a love for history and architecture — passions he said he was proud to pass on to his daughter years later.

The 2,000-square-foot gate lodge was part of the 576-acre Harbor Hill Estate built in the early 1900s for Clarence Mackay, the heir to the Comstock silver fortune and chairman of the board of the Postal Telegraph and Cable Corporation. 

Though much of the property was later redeveloped into the Country Estates housing development, the gate lodge remained. In 1991, the limestone structure, which was designed in the French Baroque style, was listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

From 1970 to 2008, the property, which includes a pool, was used as the Country Estates development's swim club. In recent years, however, the space became overrun with graffiti and the pool used as an unofficial skatepark, said Jaime Karbowiak, the nonprofit's executive director.

“It fell into neglect,” Karbowiak added. “It was exposed to significant vandalism.”

Karbowiak said she expects the property’s windows and doors to be restored by the fall.

The property's former owner, Great Neck-based Tishkon Realty LLC, promised the land to the village in 2017, but the deed wasn't officially transferred until 2021, when Nassau County approved Tishkon's subdivision on the land around the gate lodge, according to nonprofit officials.

 The real estate company also donated about $193,500 toward the structure’s restoration, East Hills village officials said at the time.  Howard Kroplick, Roslyn Landmark Society's co-president, said the total cost of the restoration effort will end up exceeding the $312,000 village officials estimated in 2017. 

The area has been cleared of debris, and the graffiti mostly has been cleaned off, according to Kroplick.  He said the nonprofit also will look for grant funding in order to repair the roof and remake a giant clock on the lodge as it was a century ago.  

For the teens' art project, last summer the nonprofit received a grant from the Gardiner Young Scholars program, which was used as a $1,500 stipend for Isabella Santos with a requirement for 100 hours of community service. 

Santos and Bailey spent those hours conceiving and creating the four paintings for the window coverings, working with the art club every Monday after school starting last fall. The Landmark Society awarded Bailey a $1,000 scholarship for her contribution.

The works pop with bright colors — pink, light blue, yellow and more. One is meant to resemble a “candy land,” with lollipop trees and chocolate rivers. Another features a winding river bisecting a valley.

“It puts me in another atmosphere,” Bailey said of painting. “I feel very relaxed, not stressed. It allows myself to have all creative expression and it just gives me the ability to see things differently and to present them in the way I see them in my mind.”

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