Not many people really that Long Island once housed royalty from many different countries and financial empires, resulting in the nickname of the “Gold Coast”. One of these houses would have been located right in the Muttontown Preserve. Built to be the new home of ousted Albanian King Zog.
Who was King Zog you ask?
King Zog’s real name is Ahmet Muhtar Zogolli, taking the surname of Zogu in 1922. In short he was the leader of Albania from 1922 to 1939. He first served as the Prime Minister of Albania from 1922 to 1924 then went on as president in 1925 to 1928, he was then appointed as king of Albania in 1925 till his ousting in 1939.
King Zog came to power by being born into an affluent Albanian family, he was born in Burgajet Castle in the northern part of the Albanian section of the once Ottoman Empire, his family was a beylik family of landowners who had feudal authority over the region of Mati and was educated in the Ottoman Empires capital. Upon the death of Zog’s father, he became the governor of Mati. Over the years Zog held prominent roles in the freshly formed Albanian government until 1923 when he was shot and pounded, and the revolt led him to flee the country with 600 of his allies. Shortly after, Zog returned with the backing of Yugoslavia and Russian based troops to become the Prime Minister.
Under the then-Albanian constitution, Zog was provided with sweeping executive and legislative powers, which included the right to appoint one-third of the upper house. Virtually giving him dictator status, he had close censorship over the media and assassinated several of his political opponents.
You may be asking how he became “King Zog” and why we refer to him as Zog. On September 1, 1928, the Albanian country was transformed into a kingdom, Zog appointed himself as King of the Albanians and called himself King Zog the first.
Now that we know about King Zog himself and where he came from, what about the Estate?
In 1951, King Zog purchased a 260-acre mansion that was originally being built by architects Hiss and Weekes. The mansion had 60-rooms with its land encompassing the Westbrook Farms. It was originally built between 1906 and 1920 for Wall Street Mogul and Steel Tycoon Charles Hudson.
It is said King Zog purchased the house with a bucket full of diamonds and rubies (He was known to horde the Albanian wealth as their paper currency was backed by diamonds and rubies), however, it’s more accurate to assume the house cost him around $102,800 at the time.
While King Zog had every intention of moving into the estate with his servants, he never made it. Rumors had spread of King Zog hiding his riches in the mansion and looters ended up ransacking the house causing it to go into ruin. Eventually, the Albanian Parliament sold the estate in 1955. The estate was never lived in and was torn down in 1959 citing safety concerns by the Oyster Bay Public Works Department.
Today you can only see some remnants of the Knollwood estate such as garden walls, some staircases, and a few gazebos that still stand.