Killenworth Glen Cove

The Killenworth  mansion in Glen Cove, owned by the Russians since 1951, has always been a spy center. Having grown up right next door in the 60s and 70s, it always had shady things going on there. From the rooftops adorned with endless amounts of communication antennas,  to the FBI, the Secret Service and the CIA roaming outside the perimeter. Many times they just parked right outside the embassy to let the Russians know they were watching. 

There was a reason the Russians chose Killenworth. In the 50s and 60s and well into the 70s, it was a strategic location. Groton Connecticut where they made top secret subs was right across the water and Grumman aerospace was on the other side of  Long Island. This put them between the most important locations where they could conduct their spying operations. 

Many times my friends and I would be behind the estate at Welwyn, another Pratt Estate, watching the Russians patrol the water as if they were waiting for something or someone. In the 70s or 80s they had a luncheon for some of the residents of the area. I wondered away from the secured space to the upstairs where I saw endless amounts of communication equipment, manned by around 5 or 6 people. When they spotted me, they quickly marched me back downstairs, lecturing me on wondering around their home. Over the years I was friends with some of the Russian Residents, but they only were there for a year or two before they were sent back to Moscow. I would visit from time to time by ringing the bell at the front gate and they would send security to find out what I wanted and sometimes they let me in to visit. 

I always wondered what they thought of America. We would see them shopping in our stores and they were very easily spotted driving around Glen Cove because of their Diplomatic Plates. They did keep to themselves and they were very friendly.

Killenworth is a historic mansion in Glen Cove, New York. Constructed for George Dupont Pratt in 1912, it was purchased by the Soviet Union in 1951 to become the country retreat of the Soviet, and later Russian, delegation to the United Nations. In the 1980s the property was subject to allegations it was being used for espionage, and there was a long-standing conflict with the City of Glen Cove over its tax status.


Killenworth was constructed in 1912 as the home of George Dupont Pratt. The building was designed by Trowbridge and Ackerman in the Tudor Revival style with a weymoth granite facade and had 39 rooms. It won first prize in that year's American Institute of Architects competition for best country house. The estate's gardens were designed by James Leal Greenleaf, and was considered his greatest achievement. The current building replaced an earlier mansion, also called Killenworth, which was constructed for Pratt around 1897 by William Tubby with landscaping by the Olmsted Brothers.

In 1951, the estate was purchased by the Soviet Union and used as the country retreat of its delegation to the United Nations. The tax-exempt status of the property led to conflict with the City of Glen Cove, which in 1970 attempted to foreclose on the property until the United States Department of State got a restraining order in federal court to stop the proceedings. In 1982 the city council voted to revoke the Russians' ability to get permits for city beach, golf, and tennis facilities. The Soviet Union retaliated by denying use of a Moscow beach to members of the Embassy of the United States in Moscow. The permit revocation was reversed in 1984.

In the 1980s the facility was subject to allegations that it was being used for espionage, with defector Arkady Shevchenko stating that its top floors were occupied by equipment for signals intelligence. In December 2016, the Obama administration announced that two Russian diplomatic facilities, one of which was on Long Island, would be closed as part of the retaliation for the Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election. It was initially reported that Killenworth may be the one closed. However, it turned out that the targeted facility was another mansion owned by the Russians in nearby Upper Brookville, New York.

Killenworth is one of five existing mansions in Glen Cove built for the sons of oil magnate Charles Pratt. The others are "The Braes", now the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture; "Welwyn", now the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County on the grounds of the Welwyn Preserve; "Poplar Hill", now the Glengariff Healthcare Center; and "The Manor", now the Glen Cove Mansion Hotel and Conference Center.