Locust Grove: A National Historic Landmark
2683 South Road (Route 9)
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Open: Seasonal-See Below
Visitor Information: The gardens and grounds are open year round from 8:00am to dusk, weather permitting.
House Tours: Offered May through November, daily from 10:00am-5:00pm and weekends in April & December. Groups tours by appointment.
Visitor Center: Open January through March, weekdays from 10:00am-5:00pm. April through December daily from 10:00am-5:00pm.
Fee: Adults $12.00/Children (6-18) $6.00
Overlooking the Hudson River, the 180 acre Locust Grove Estate includes an Italianate villa designed in 1851 by architect Alexander Jackson Davis for artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. The estate, with miles of carriage roads, landscaped grounds, historic gardens and Hudson River views, was preserved as a museum and nature preserve by the Young family, whose collection of art and antiques is exhibited in the mansion’s 25 rooms.
I have visited the house twice for Christmas with the mansions elaborate but tasteful displays and once in the last fall when the foliage was in full peak. The house is an interesting example of turn of the century architecture and innovation of both the Morse and Young family’s love of Locust Grove. Each added their own touch to the house.
Locust Grove in the Fall/Winter months
During the Christmas holiday season, the house is beautifully decorated both inside and out for the holidays, with a formal tree in the back Living room, smaller trees and garland around the house on the first floor and smaller trees with presents in the bedrooms and in the Billiards room.
The Living Room at Locust Grove for the holidays
The Dining Room was set for an formal Christmas lunch with the family’s best china, crystal and silver and had displays of fruits and desserts that would have been served during the holidays. The Morse family spent their holidays in New York City so it would have been the Young’s who spent their holidays here.
The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch
The house had been added onto twice from the small cottage that had been built by the second owners, the Montgomery family. The back tower and wings were built by the Morse family and the formal dining room by the Young’s for their growing family.
Our tour guide, Ethel, did a nice job interpreting how each family would have used the house and for what occasions. The Young’s lived here full time until the last owner, Annette, died in 1975 and the Morse family used it as a summer retreat until Samuel Morse died in 1872.
The view from the back of Locust Grove to the Hudson River
The house is tastefully furnished both in turn of the last century decor and some more modern pieces. The grounds in the spring and summer months are in full bloom and in the fall awash with colors from the trees.
Also, don’t miss visiting the small museum of Samuel Morris’s paintings and his development of the telegraph system, where the patents is where most of the family fortune came from. Mr. Morse was an artist, educator and inventor and his life’s work is displayed in the galleries.
The History of Locust Grove:
Locust Grove has an interesting history. The estate was first owned by Henry Livingston Jr. when he purchased the property from his father in 1771. The estate was such named because of the black locust trees that grew on the property. After his death, the estate was sold to John and Isabella Montgomery who built the original cottage on the estate. Mr. Livingston’s home had been torn down by this point.
The main house at Locust Grove is a villa in the Italianate style designed in 1850. Morse had recalled the elegant villas that he had visited years earlier in the Italian countryside and he sketched towers, windows and floor plans. Construction on the villa, sited on a dramatic bluff overlooking the Hudson River began in 1851 and was completed the following year.
He continued to expand the cottage and the gardens during his time and the family continued to use the house as a summer retreat and living in the winters in their brownstone in Gramercy Park. After Mr. Morse’s death, the family used the house occasionally and then sold it to one of their renters, the Young family.
William and Martha Young added modern amenities to the house like central heat and running water and updated the bathrooms. They added the new dining room and guest bedrooms in the new North Wing of the house. They also brought with the many family heirlooms and their decorative art collection which is still on display in the house.
After their deaths, the Young’s children, Annette and Ennis worked to preserved and restore their family’s homes in here, in New Haven, New York City and Ulster County. After the death of her brother in 1953, Annette Young continued to live at Locust Grove and began donating to museums the art, land and historic houses she inherited so that they would be protected. When she died in 1975, she established a not-for-profit foundation to ensure that Locust Grove with its collections and archives would be protected. The house is now available for touring and for weddings.
(Locust Grove History and Wiki: I give both organizations full credit for this information)
Location: Locust Grove is located on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie, NY, two miles south of the Mid-Hudson Bridge or 11 miles north of Interstate 84.
Disclaimer: this information is taken from the Locust Grove Historic pamphlet. The site is very interesting and should be added to your list of ‘must sees’ in the area. Please call the site for more information.