Historic GCU: The George Jay Gould Estate
"Situated in the famous 'pine belt' of New Jersey, nine miles from the ocean, is Lakewood, a noted winter resort [in Ocean County]. Combining all requisites for health and pleasure, it is within easy distance of New York and Philadelphia. The difference in quality between the climate of this charming health resort and the neighboring cities is apparent to the most casual visitor..."
--quoted from the 1914 booklet Village Improvement Association of the Bureau of Information, Lakewood, New Jersey.
In the late 1800s, Lakewood was well known as the winter playground for the elite of New York City and Philadelphia, with sprawling country estates nestled among the spruces and pines. Georgian Court University is located on one such estate, the George Jay Gould Estate. Established in 1896 by the son of railroad magnate Jay Gould, construction on the estate began ten years after George Gould married lovely young actress Edith Kingdon. A second residence and winter getaway for the Goulds, Georgian Court provided recreation, relaxation, and healthy pine air for the Goulds and their two sons and four daughters.
Gould engaged the famous New York architect, Bruce Price, to transform his newly purchased property into a lavish country estate. He had in mind something on the order of the great estates in England and Scotland, the comforts of which he had often enjoyed. Price drew upon his extensive experience in designing country homes. The two men soon agreed upon the style of an English estate of the Georgian period, which would substitute a gracious order for the wild terrain. Consequently, the name Georgian Court seemed appropriate.
After George Gould's death, his heirs decided to sell the estate to the Sisters of Mercy. The Gould family could not have imagined the delight that the beauty of Georgian Court and its myriad treasures would afford an endless stream of visitors. The splendor of the Gilded Age has influenced and nurtured graduates of Georgian Court for nearly a century, continuing the marvelous legacy of the Gould estate.
The estate featured an indoor swimming pool, court tennis court, bowling alley, all housed in what is now called the Casino (the court tennis court, bowling alley, and swimming pool have all been restored and maintained)--as well as a Japanese Garden, Formal Garden, and classical Italian Garden, which still grace the campus with their natural and sculptural beauty today. The estate is both a National Arboretum Site and a National Historic Site. Tours are offered Monday – Friday and selected Saturdays throughout the year. Please click here to schedule your campus tour.
Postcards from the Gould era, circa 1920