HISTORY OF OKELWOOD
Updated Aug 22, 2008
As per Harry W. Havemeyer in "Along the Great South Bay" 1500 acres of land around Awixa Avenue was subsequently purchased by Messrs Thurber and Clock
December 1, 1896
Elwood Mildeberger purchased the land from Lorenzo and Eliza J. Clock
just prior to Lorenzo's death.
Lorenzo Dow Clock died in 1897 and Eliza J. died in 1907 and are buried
together in the Oakwood
1904 Elwood and Molly Drumm Mildeberger built a 12,500 sq. ft. home on the property and named it Oakelwood - (Mr. Mildeberger pictured lower left in this historic photo).
The property was originally 13+ acres (now 3+). Mr. Mildeberger was reported to
have had 13 gardeners and one full time person to stoke the fireplaces plus many
servants in the home. The original house
had a beautiful wood front porch which wrapped around to a gazebo
(removed previous to picture) on the right
side. Elwood was a
world traveler and collector. He collected Asian art and animal trophies. There
was a suit of armor in the trophy room which was sold later to the
Some of the Mildebergers close neighbors in the early 1900's included E.F. Hutton, J.D. Adams (Adams Chewing Gum Company (Chicklets)), Simon Rothchild (A&S Department Stores), and Allan Pinkerton (Pinkerton Security). Mr. Pinkerton's father Allan Pinkerton was the Director of Secret Services for the Union Army during the Civil War. These and many other affluent residents came to the area in the early 1900's and then moved to larger "Gold Coast Mansions" on the north shore of Long Island in the 1920's.
Robert Coller sold his share and title was then transferred to Reginald (Rex) Beech in 1946 (1/2) & 1949 in
full, then to
Barbara B. Carr (daughter of Rex Beech) in 1957. Barbaras son Rex
Carr aka Cameron Scott came to visit Oakelwood in 2001. Cameron visited the house and
provided history, photos (on this web site of Oakelwood from 1904 to 1963) and returned the
entrance hallway fireplace mantel and accessories,. Subsequently more photos
were provided by his brother Bill. Camerons mother married
Mr. Jim Carr in the house. Six children were born in the house to Mrs. Carr who
now lives in Many more historic photos of
this family can be found throughout this website.
Many more historic photos of this family can be found throughout this website.Barbara's husband Jim Carr came to visit in April of 2011 (Barbara having previously passed away). He was accompanied by his their daughter Valerie Carr McNamara of Virginia who had many wonderful memories of her childhood at Okelwood. Mr. Carr promised to send more photos for the website.
August 23, 1963 Property was purchased by Mr. Joseph W. Koch and Mae G. Koch who raised 3 children here Ron, Diane, and Joan. Mr. Koch insisted that all property be removed from the house before purchase. A couch on the second floor actually had to be destroyed and thrown out the 3rd floor window to comply. The $55,000 was the asking price and it was Barbara Carr who actually found Mr. Koch after realtors had difficulty selling the property.
Mr. Koch, a
builder, specialized in the design and construction of nursing homes, did a
major redesign of the house. He removed the front left gable and the front wood
porch. He added a brick castle like structure on the front
and changed the
chimneys to have a turret like top. He added a large (45x65) two story
behind the kitchen in which he used the top structure as a
trophy room. This room was used by later owners as a recital hall and a ballroom. There were two huge fireplaces (one on each floor) and the bottom
floor (basement) has since had its fireplace covered up by a 45
bar when he
basement was later converted into a cocktail
. He also changed the
screened terrace on the back into a formal living
He added a 5 car garage
and utilized the 3 windows from the removed gable on the second floor of the
garage. He added cast iron baseboard heating systems and seriously damaged the
beautiful yellow pine floors in doing so. In some areas additional luan wood
flooring was overlaid, but on most areas carpeting became a must to cover the
plywood that replaced the pine planks as plumbing was added. All the bathrooms
were fashioned with urinals which were removed by the next owner. Mr.
Koch collected animal trophies and kept them in what is now the Ballroom.
There was a suit of armor in the
sitting area of the turret stairway.
For 1975 photo's click here. Mr. Koch lived in the room
which is now the Master Dressing Room.
The mural over the main staircase was
reportedly a lady in an evening gown. A wall of fish tanks was reportedly
located between the kitchen and the sun room.
For 1975 photo's click here. Mr. Koch lived in the room which is now the Master Dressing Room. The mural over the main staircase was reportedly a lady in an evening gown. A wall of fish tanks was reportedly located between the kitchen and the sun room.
spent over $700,000 (according to his daughter) renovating the home. He enclosed the 2 car garage (next to the kitchen) and shed (behind Mr. Mildebergers gun room) into a massage parlor and Roman Bathing system
including marble walls and ceilings, sauna and two large handmade tubs. He added
marble floors in the formal living room, ballroom and cocktail lounge. A large fish pond
waterfall was added to the front room (it encompassed almost the entire room and
was filled with Koi (Large hearty goldfish that can live 70 years). The fish were
later (in 1999 by the Choi's) placed in the swimming pool where
they still lived for many years. The
freeform swimming pool
was built during this period by a famous pool architect and was not used for 13+ years,
until the present owners refurbished
the pool in late 2003. Mr. Kheem also
converted the boat house into a guest house
next to the nature
with beautiful views down the river.
The house was seriously damaged and repaired in 1984 when
Hurricane Gloria flooded the neighborhood
The house was seriously damaged and repaired in 1984 when Hurricane Gloria flooded the neighborhood
Vandals lived in the house during this period. Serious destruction occurred including the copper heating pipes being removed from the basement with serious flooding occurring. The Formal Living Room was seriously damaged as well.
Mr. And Mrs.
Choi spent one year starting to clean up the house. According to them, they put
over $500,000 into renovations and were just getting started when they decided
to sell the home.
The present owners purchased the home with the intent of returning it to its original grandeur. Initiating a 10 year project they committed to taking the house back 100 years in its interior state. Slowly the house and its furnishings will be renovated and furnished. In addition a history would be compiled using this website and its primary method of recording.
Over 40 10 yard dumpsters of garbage and construction debris were initially removed from the house. Painting and plastering took over 13 months. Reconstructing floors took over 4 months. All floors on the 2nd and 3rd floors were returned to their original wood designs with flooring from other parts of the house. Radiant heat was added in the kitchen (1st floor heating was poor) and the kitchen and formal dining rooms were completely redone. Door knobs and transom hardware of the period were stripped, repaired and replated. Additional door knobs of the period were added. A new Mahogany deck was added over the formal living room. The roof was replaced on the boat house. The house was completely rewired and made intelligent. Remote control alarms, cameras, audio, video, and networking wire installed, Hundreds of miles of wiring was painstakingly run carefully through the interior. A suit of Spanish armor was placed in the entrance hallway. The two rooms which were originally the billiard room and trophy room (Mildeberger) were made into one large formal dining room. The floor in the billiard room was original 1904 yellow pine. Since there was no real floor in the adjacent trophy room, the yellow pine floor was carefully removed and used to redo the floors on the 2nd and 3rd floors including the servants quarters which had only a sub floor built in 1904. The room with the fish pond was converted into an entrance sun porch . The swimming pool was completely refurbished by Stardust Pools in the late summer of 2003. As it was not possible to stop the leaking a fiberglass shell was constructed inside the pool and the decking was completely replaced with Nicolock pavers by Emerald Isle Masonry. All appliances (filters, heaters, pumps, brominator and lines) were replaced. A hot tub was added in one of the smaller side areas of the pool. with a waterfall flowing into the pool. Restoring the grounds is another ongoing project. Sprinkler systems were updated, flower beds returned, and the lawns are being slowly restored. In the summer of 2004 a kitchen/ bar was added to the rear of the Ballroom utilizing the present outside fireplace. In 2005 we replaced all windows in the formal living room with custom windows from Tri-State Window Factory. Sliding glass doors were also replaced. In 2006 we redid the home intelligence system with HAI. We also completed the Master Suite interior design. In 2007 we added a home theater to the Bar/Theater. Each year we continue to improve on the landscaping. We also chose at least one room per year to redecorate in the style of the early 1900' s.
As the house became livable, the owners started donating its use to charities. Please click here to learn more about our charitable work - CLICK
Since the house was called "The Castle" by neighbors since the renovations were completed in 1964 the present owners continued using the name "The Awixa Castle" in addition to "Oakelwood" which seems to have stopped being used after Mildeberger.
Please click on the site index below where you will see 100's of pictures of the house dating from 1904 to the present and listed alphabetically by room or area.
THE HISTORY OF "AWIXA NY"
SITE INDEX - INCLUDING 100'S OF PAST AND PRESENT PICTURES