North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center Lets the Light Shine In With Tour of Historic Whispered Wishes Headquarters

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center Lets the Light Shine In With Tour of Historic Whispered Wishes Headquarters

North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center Lets the Light Shine In With Tour of Historic Whispered Wishes Headquarters

Also announces capital campaign for major windows renovation project

Roslyn Heights, NY, October 5, 2017 The past came to life on October 3rd as North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center hosted a luncheon at its Roslyn Heights headquarters, known as “Whispered Wishes,” featuring a visit by one of the home’s former occupants.

Whispered Wishes today, which is the Guidance Center’s main headquarters.

Mary Jo Balkind, the granddaughter of one of the building’s early owners, financier and industrialist Charles C. Auchincloss, lived in the Guidance Center’s headquarters during WW II when she was a young girl. She enthusiastically shared many stories of those years with the luncheon’s guests, which included board members, donors and New York State Senator Elaine Phillips.

“It was a working farm,” said Balkind, who lived in the home with her grandparents, mother and siblings. “We had pigs, cows and chickens, along with a tennis court and stable. It was a great place to live.”

Another interesting point of history: Balkind’s sister Rosie was best friends with future First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who visited the home often as a young girl.

Buck and Leslie Balkind with Buck’s mother Mary Jo Balkind and her drawing of the original estate’s layout.

The history of the building—one of the oldest in the East Hills area—is quite fascinating, said Howard Kroplick, Town Historian for the Town of North Hempstead. Whispered Wishes, formerly named “Builtover” by Charles Auchincloss when he purchased the home in 1905, was originally part of a 46-acre property owned by the Willets and Taber families, early settlers of Long Island.

Well-known architecture firm Peabody, Wilson and Brown was hired by Auchincloss to update the original home and turn it into a 25-room Georgian Revival mansion. He also hired the famed Olmstead Brothers, who designed Central Park, as architects for the grounds in 1917.

Kroplick stated, “This is a building that does so many wonderful things for the community. It should be cherished and preserved.”

John Grillo, Senator Elaine Phillips, Guidance Center Executive Director Andrew Malekoff and Board President Nancy Lane.

Gold Coast historian Paul J. Mateyunas gave the audience a tour of the home, pointing out its numerous original features, from fireplaces to sconces to cast iron heating grates to a call box for the servants. “This is an amazing example of preservation,” said Mateyunas.

Since the Guidance Center purchased the home in 1983, preserving its beauty and structural integrity has been of utmost importance. Executive Director Andrew Malekoff told the luncheon guests that the Guidance Center is embarking on a crucial renovation project to keep the “warm and welcoming” feeling for all of the Guidance Center’s clients.

“We’re very grateful to Senator Phillips for helping us secure $100,000 toward the windows project from the Dormitory Authority of New York State,” said Malekoff, noting that the cost to replace all 120 windows will be approximately $1.2 million.

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy with Rosie Balkind in front of the home’s barn.

For her part, Mary Jo Balkind is thrilled that her former childhood home is a place where helping children and families in need of mental health services is paramount. “I’m so thankful that the Guidance Center has preserved the beauty of this house. They’ve also preserved the spiritual essence of the building. There is the most wonderful atmosphere here; from the moment you walk in you can feel it. It makes me so happy that the Guidance Center is here.”

To learn more about the windows renovation project, please contact Director of Development Lauren McGowan at or call (516) 626-1971, ext. 320.