Since Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon up the Hudson River in 1609, the American aristocracy has been drawn to the Hudson Valley’s bounty and beauty. Cornerstones of American capitalism, the uber-wealthy were able to hire the best architects, landscape artists, and decorators to build their palaces. Their legacy includes some of the finest examples of several historic architecture, landscaping, and interiors, from the early Federal period to the numerous revival styles of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Many of these estates have been meticulously restored and fastidiously maintained to preserve each home’s historical and cultural significance, as well as personal character. The estates along the river recreate a history not only of the Hudson Valley, but also of the United States, contained in a many-layered contextual experience.
There is a rich history wrapped around the men and women who settled along the Hudson River. Statesmen and politicians called the Valley home, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose estate at Hyde Park was both his refuge and his final resting place. Several estates in the Mid-Hudson region are connected with various branches of the Livingston family, whose members included war heroes, political figures, and one of the five authors of the Declaration of Independence (who, incidentally, swore in George Washington as the first president of the United States).
The Mills and Vanderbilt families were at the center of New York society life at the turn of the last century, their estates redolent with the opulence of the American Renaissance. The Hudson Valley’s lush landscapes drew artists to its beauty, inspiring the Hudson River School of Painting. Some of the finest known examples of this artistic movement are on display in Olana, home of Frederick Church.
Some sites not to miss:
Kykuit (Sleepy Hollow) One of the Rockefeller family homes, Kykuit’s imposing granite Georgian mansion rises above a series of stone terraces and formal gardens. The Beaux Arts landscape is home to Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive collection of 20th century sculpture, which includes works by Calder, Picasso, and Noguchi. Separate tours of the gardens and sculpture are offered to highlight this collection. In addition to the furnished home and formal gardens, a Coach barn houses the Rockefeller’s antique automobiles and horse-drawn carriages. Tours of Kykuit begin at Phillipsburg Manor on Route 9 in Sleepy Hollow. 914-631-8200, www.hudsonvalley.org/content/view/12/42/.
Lyndhurst (Tarrytown) With turrets, battlements, and a majestic tower, Lyndhurst stands as a Gothic castle guarding the Hudson. Commissioned in 1838 by the mayor of New York City, General William Paulding, architect A.J. Davis constructed a Greek Revival fortress of massive proportions. Subsequent owner George Merritt hired Davis again to add a four story tower and other additions to the castle. Railroad Magnate Jay Gould purchased the estate years later, making his own changes to the house and grounds. Now a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Lyndhurst is surrounded by classic estate landscaping that includes a magnificent greenhouse and aviary. 635 South Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591, 914-631-4481 http://www.Lyndhurst.org.
Sunnyside (Tarrytown) Author Washington Irving immortalized the Hudson Valley in his tales of Sleepy Hollow. He also settled here, in his Dutch Plantation style home, Sunnyside. Built around an existing cottage in 1835, the house evokes the Dutch architecture of his native New York City, but with a fanciful touch. The entrance is framed in wisteria planted by Irving, as was the English Ivy that covers much of the structure. Sunnyside is filled with an eclectic variety of furnishings and decorations, including Irving’s intact study complete with his two-sided writing desk. The grounds are landscaped in the Romantic style, flowing out of the surroundings. Special events are frequent and include 19th century style picnics, art events, and of course, good old-fashioned storytelling of Irving’s works. West Sunnyside Lane, off of Route 9, Tarrytown, NY 10591, 914-591-8763 http://www.hudsonvalley.org/content/view/13/43/.
Excerpts courtesy of HudsonRiver.com
For more listings of Historic Hudson Valley Estates, please visit
Currently serving the sports and entertainment industry working on the east coast, Kimberly’s focus is expert management of ‘on-location’ and transitional experiences for these high profile individuals. Working with Production Coordinators, Estate Managers, Agents, and Personal Assistants, she strives to make the relocation process, whether long term or short term, as painless as possible.
For those who chose to add a property to their portfolio, Kimberly serve as an owner’s representative in the design and renovation process and then can map out a successful management plan and put in place experienced staff to facilitate the new systems. Recent projects include a significant portfolio of historic and newly constricted estate properties ranging from 6,000 to 33,000 square feet, often with multiple support structures and extensive grounds.
Latest posts by Kimberly Varney (see all)
- Member Tips on Working With Vendors - May 5, 2017
- Fleet Miami - May 2, 2017
- Cover Your Assets – Understanding Service Contracts - May 1, 2017