Originally built for Charles I. Hudson between 1906 and 1920, the once-magnificent Knollwood Estate was purchased by Albania’s King Zog in 1951. While the estate awaited the monarch who would never arrive, rumors circulated that Albanian treasure was hidden in the walls, prompting vandals to tear apart the unprotected property.
King Zog, born Ahmet Muhtar Bej Zogolli, ruled Albania from 1925 to 1939, first as president and later as king, before he was forced to flee Albania with his family following invasion by Italian forces. Zog, by that time, was no stranger to attempts on his life, having reportedly survived over 55 assassination attempts during his relatively brief rule, including a 1931 attempt in Vienna which established him as the only leader in modern times to return fire on his assailant.
According to ScoutingNY, Zog had planned on turning Knollwood into his own personal micro-kingdom, complete with Albanian subjects, but somehow these plans never materialized. By 1955 the property had fallen to disrepair and was sold to Lansdell Christie who had most of it demolished in 1959. Today curious hikers can explore what remains of King Zog’s would-be palace on what is now part of Nassau County’s 550-acre Muttontown Preserve.
Know Before You Go
Don't go in through the main hiking preserve entrance! Enter through the Equestrian Center off Jericho-Oyster Bay Road (it's hidden and if you're coming from the LIE you might want to get on the southbound side for an easier entrance).
There are trees with neon pink ribbon around them and if you follow them it leads you directly to the ruins. If you go through the main entrance you will have a good 5 or 6-mile walk through the woods. If you follow the ribbon it's only 0.5 of a mile. It's well worth the time though!