An elaborate mansion built by the family who set up the global chain of Woolworth’s stores and which was reputed to be haunted, has been severely damaged by a mystery fire. Late last year, the property had been used by the singer Taylor Swift to shoot her video for the song Blank Space.
The sprawling Winfield Mansion, located at Glen Cove on New York’s Long Island, was built in 1916 by Frank Winfield Woolworth after the family’s previous home was destroyed by a blaze.
Local media said that the elaborate property, which features marble walls and columns, has had the reputation of being haunted since the death of Woolworth’s second daughter, whose spirit is claimed by some to have lingered at the home since she took her own life on May 2 1917.
Some reports said she took her life New York City’s Plaza Hotel, though other say purportedly never-unlocked Marie Antoinette room in the mansion was the place of her death while her father was hosting a party.
Over the years the mansion has appeared in many films and televisions shows. Late last year it was the location for the Swift video.
Reports said flames took hold on Wednesday morning and swept through a wing of the property, that extends over 25,000 square feet. Around 150 firefighters tackled the blaze, which took two-and-a-half hours to put out.
James Hickman, supervisor of the Nassau County Fire Marshall investigations unit, said the damage to the Italian Renaissance-style property would be expensive.
“I can't put a dollar value on it,” Mr Hickman told the Wall Street Journal. “The woodwork and some of the contents were irreparably damaged.”
Reports say the mansion has been owned by Martin Carey, the brother of former New York Governor Hugh Carey, since 1978. It was last put on the market five years ago when it was priced at $19m.
Follow Andrew Buncombe on Twitter: @AndrewBuncombe