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Behind the balcony of the chapel is a dark passageway leading to a steep stone staircase that spirals up to a secret roof entrance.

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But this was a solemn goodbye gathering, not a party. Ignatius’s final sermon, and hundreds of worshippers, volunteers and neighbors who had come to care deeply about the retreat home over the years came out for a final hour of prayer.

The main chapel on the first floor was overflowing with worshippers, many of whom had to seek a secondary service in the solarium next door.

Each year, hundreds of people came to Inisfada, said Lou Paolillo, an active member of the Jesuit community here, during a tour of the grounds.

The facility has hosted confirmation retreats for pre-teens, retreats for the elderly and ailing, and other trips meant as quiet vacations away from the workaday hustle, complete with meditation sessions and sermons.

“We have no confirmation on the home being torn down.

You never know what they’re going to do,” said Father Cooke, of the new owners. Obviously I would prefer the house to remain as it is.” * * * Inisfada is notable for more than its colossal size.

Once the fourth-largest mansion in America, Inisfada is more reminiscent of a Long Island of the distant past; of the grand houses that dotted the island’s North Shore in the 1920s, leading to its moniker, “the Gold Coast.” Over the last 90-odd years, many of these mansions fell off the map, either crumbling into disrepair or sold and knocked down to make way for more modern homes.

Just two years ago, Lands End, the actual mansion that inspired F.

Scott Fitzgerald’s , was torn down to make room for multi-million-dollar homes.

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