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Living at Lasdon - A Privileged Life

SOMERS, N.Y. - Shortly after Westchester County acquired the Lasdon Estate for $4.2 million, the gardens and house were used as a setting for the 1987 film, “The Secret of My Success,” starring Michael J. Fox.

But while the lawns and gardens have been tenderly cultivated ever since, the house itself was not open to the public until recently. Visitors to the gardens have always inquired about going inside. 

“I was one of those people,” Elise Zazula, of New Fairfield CT, said on a recent guided tour. She and her husband, Bernard, have been visiting Lasdon for some time. “I would always see the back of the house and I wanted to see the rest. Then I heard it was open."

Tour guide Tolly Beck explained that there had been so much interest that the staff decided to open the doors on occasion, even though the house has not been refurbished and is practically unfurnished.

Christine Kell of Carmel commented that, “The house is charming. It’s a time gone by that’s worth seeing. I definitely thought it was from the 1800’s.”

The residence was actually built in 1933 by Dr. Antonie Phineas Voislawsky, a highly esteemed nose and throat doctor. It is a three-story Colonial Revival style mansion, similar to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

When Dr. Voislawsky died in 1939, pharmaceutical executive William Lasdon purchased the estate as a summer retreat for his large family. There were horses, a pool, tennis courts and more. The pool cabana has been converted to a garden and gift shop.

After Lasdon’s death in 1984 there was talk of a developer taking over the property, so the county purchased it to preserve open space.

A survey of local residents indicated a strong interest in a passive park. In a little over 20 years, the popularity of Lasdon Park and Arboretum has supported the decision.

When the house tour ended, visitors agreed that the building is interesting, but the gardens and lawns are “fabulous.” Cheryl Nowell and Jim Hickman from Mt. Kisco said, “We come as often as we can to see what’s blooming and what’s changed. It is constantly changing.”

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