Rockefeller Mansions: A Guide to the Prominent Family’s Lavish Properties

As the world’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller set the scene for his heirs to build prestigious portfolios with the Standard Oil fortune
Rockefeller mansion Kykuit cherry blossoms framing image of circular drive leading up to stately mansion against a blue sky
Kykuit, the house of the Rockefeller family in Pocantico Hills, New York, which opened to the public in 1994.Photo: Remi Benali/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The Rockefeller name looms large in America, referred to in US history textbooks and engraved on building placards thanks to patriarch John D. Rockefeller’s work in the oil, banking, and railroad industries. But in spite of its myriad associations, the surname is synonymous first and foremost with wealth itself. The magnate’s fortune ascended to astronomical levels in the late 19th century after he founded petroleum juggernaut Standard Oil, making him the world’s first billionaire (by measurable dollars) and cementing his family’s place among the nation’s blue bloods for generations to come. A number of Rockefeller scions reached the upper echelons of American politics, most notably 49th governor of New York and later VP to President Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, while others focused on growing the family fortune; John’s grandson David Rockefeller, who expanded the influence of the Rockefeller banking empire as CEO of Chase Manhattan bank, died in 2017 with an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion. As of 2020, Forbes estimated the family’s overall value at $8.4 billion.

With the kind of fortune few other families in history could conceive of, the Rockefeller mansions are as opulent as one might expect. While their commissioned properties—like New York’s iconic Rockefeller Center—are perhaps more readily called to mind by the public, dozens of other Rockefeller family properties appear on the National Register of Historic Places. From their roots in Cleveland to the state of their greatest influence, New York, read on for a selection of the many lavish Rockefeller mansions.

John D. Rockefeller’s childhood home

The rural New York home in which John D. Rockefeller was born.

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While obviously not the kind of well-appointed mansion that the Rockefeller name came to be known for, this modest home is where John D. Rockefeller started out. He was born on his family’s farm near Richford, New York, in 1839. The Rockefellers moved around throughout his young life, eventually relocating to Ohio.


Kykuit is the most well-known Rockefeller mansion.

Photo: Remi Benali/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In 1893, John D. Rockefeller bought the manor known as Kykuit in the Westchester County, New York, hamlet of Pocantico Hills. Dutch traders gave the manse its name, which translates to “lookout.” The original wood house burned down in 1902 and was replaced by a three-story Victorian-style home in 1908, however that incarnation didn’t last long, as Mrs. Rockefeller was not a fan. Five years later, a Georgian-style four-story estate with a mansard roof was erected in its place.

The home’s loggia, offering views of the picturesque vista and landscaped grounds. To the west of the manse is a large enclosed garden which features a stone teahouse, pools, and fountains.

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Kykuit is one of the formerly occupied Rockefeller mansions that is now open to the public for tours. Following four generations of Rockefeller family residency, the home is a historic site.

Photo: Remi Benali/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

John D. Rockefeller lived in the main house on the grounds while his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. resided with his own family in a separate residence on the compound. Upon John Sr.’s death, John Jr. moved into the main dwelling; afterward, Nelson lived in the estate until his 1979 death. Many of the Rockefeller heirs would go on to call Kykuit home over the years, though each of their individual residences outside of the main house bore their own names, including Hawes House, formerly for Nelson Rockefeller and Laurance Rockefeller’s Kent House.

A midtown Manhattan brownstone

John D. Rockefeller relocated the family to New York in 1884, establishing their new home base in a large brownstone at 4 West 54th Street. The grounds on which the town house once stood are now part of the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art. Abby Rockefeller, wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr., is recognized as one of the museum’s cofounders.

Forest Hill summer home

The Forest Hill summer house was a frequent destination for the Rockefeller family even after they moved away from Ohio, though John D. Rockefeller reportedly limited his time there following his wife’s 1915 death.

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Envisioned by John D. Rockefeller as a resort centered around a Victorian mansion, the Cleveland area house was added to the Rockefeller family portfolio in 1873. The “water cure” resort was not one of the magnate’s more fruitful business ventures; after it closed the estate became the family’s summer house and continued to serve as a seasonal getaway after they left the midwest for New York in 1884. The original house burned down in 1917.

The Eyrie summer home

John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased the family’s Seal Harbor, Maine, estate in 1910. The financier would shepherd the cottage through vast renovations to expand its footprint in the following years, as legend has it, to a whopping 99 rooms. The sprawling manse overlooked the water. Surrounding plots that the Rockefellers snapped up in subsequent years would be donated to the very first National Park east of the Mississippi in 1919.

Donating lands to the National Parks system became part of the Rockefeller family legacy over the years. In addition to Maine’s Acadia National Park, the family is credited with gifting large swaths of land to the state in Grand Teton National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, among others.

A New York State Executive Mansion residency

Nelson and Mary Rockefeller greet the cameras from their temporary home at the Executive Mansion in Albany, New York.

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Nelson Rockefeller served four terms as New York governor.

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The New York Governor’s Mansion was temporarily a Rockefeller mansion when Nelson Rockefeller became the state’s governor. He would hold the position from 1959 to 1973, but his time in the original abode was short: The Italianate mansion that had hosted the Empire State’s first families since 1875 caught fire in 1961.

Moving the governor’s official residence to a more contemporary dwelling uptown was briefly considered after the fire, but Rockefeller pressed for full restoration of the home. Other famous tenants include Theodore Roosevelt during his short term as the state’s 33rd governor from 1899 to 1900, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who arranged for an indoor swimming pool to be added onto the home. Alongside advocating for the home’s extensive repairs, Rockefeller also tacked on tennis courts.

The Casements

It’s said that John D. Rockefeller was known as “Neighbor John” during his later years as a resident of Ormond Beach.

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The Ormond Beach, Florida, abode owes its name to the hand-cut casement windows that line the 9,000-square-foot mansion. John D. Rockefeller purchased the pad in 1918, five years after it was built, and used it as a winter home. He was 78 years old upon moving in. Along the Halifax riverfront, the home’s sprawling gardens spanned two acres.

In May of 1937, Rockefeller died at The Casements. He passed away in his sleep from sclerotic myocarditis.

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In 1937, at the age of 97, Rockefeller died at his beloved coastal residence. The mogul is buried in Cleveland. The Casements, no longer under Rockefeller family ownership, is now among the their past dwellings included on the National Register of Historic Places. For over 30 years, the historic home has been operating as a cultural center for the Ormond Beach community.