Author: jwatrel

Mount Gulian Historic Site                        145 Sterling Street     Beacon, NY 12508

Mount Gulian Historic Site 145 Sterling Street Beacon, NY 12508

Mount Gulian Historic Site

145 Sterling Street

Beacon, NY  12508

(845) 831-8172

http://www.mountgulian.org/

Open: May 5th-October 27th Tours are every hour 1:00pm-5:00pm on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Special Wedding tours are by appointment.

Fee: Adults $8.00/Seniors $6.00/Children (6-18) $4.00/Members are free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47291-d10701912-Reviews-Mount_Gulian_Society-Beacon_New_York.html?m=19905

 

On my last trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the great houses of the Hudson, I came across Mount Gulian, a Dutch manor that I never heard of in all my visits. This smaller Dutch manor house is actually a reconstruction of an 18th century home that burned to the ground by arson in 1931. The original house had been built between 1730 and 1740 and added onto over the next two centuries.

The house officially had closed for the season at the end of October and was decorated for the holidays for the weekend between December 14-16th to represent the Dutch celebrations. There had been a Children’s tea the Monday before the New Year so the house was closing down for the season. As the ladies that worked there were taking down the garlands, mistletoe and trees, the curator Amy, let me wonder the rooms as long as I did not get in their way.

The house is very unique. You would have never known it was a reconstruction. The house really looked its age. The funny part of the house is that is at the very back of an old estate that had been developed with townhouses from the main road to almost the border of the house’s property so it was strange to drive through to find the house. Once in the semicircular driveway, you plunge back into time.

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Mount Gulian Homestead in the summer months

The large porch in the front of the house looks over what’s left of the lawn and the housing developments. Once inside you enter the foyer and long hallway with rooms on each side. Each room was or had been decorated for the holidays with garland, mistletoe, fruits and a Christmas tree in one room, a kind of mixture of old Dutch meets Victorian Christmas. Still the effects were nice and it was very festive.

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Mount Gulian’s Dining area decorated for the holidays

What I enjoyed is that in each room, there were stories of the Verplanck family and the role that they played in the formation of the community and in the nation as well. All of the rooms had artifacts that the family keeps donating the house as most of the original furnishings were destroyed in the 1931 fire. Still the furnishings are vintage to the time period.

Here and there are stories of the house, the people that lived here and about the family in their daily lives. There were also stories of the Revolutionary War and its headquarters of Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. There was also a display on the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati, a Veterans group.

The downstairs was the kitchen area and was still set up for a Dutch Christmas. There was also an interactive game that the room was set for and the gift shop for the site is there as well.

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The Mount Gulian kitchen

When I left the house, I visited the grounds over-looking the Hudson River. On the property behind the house was a ‘A frame’ Dutch barn. The barn was closed for the season but fit very well into the landscape of the estate. The view of the Hudson River was beautiful.

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The Dutch Barn at Mount Gulian

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The view to the Hudson River from the house in the Summer

I will have to visit again in the Spring when it opens in April.

Don’t miss visiting the downtown’s of Beacon and Wappinger Falls while visiting the area. Taking Route 9D is an interesting and scenic way to tour the area.

 

History of Mount Gulian:

The land where the house stands was purchased by two fur traders Francis Rombout and Gulian Verpanck on August 8, 1683. In exchange for 85,000 acres of land, they paid about $1,250 in goods. The Rombout Patent which formally granted the land to Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck was issued by King James II of England on October 17, 1685. After Gulian Verplanck’s death, his estate was eventually divided among divided among his heirs. Julian Verpanck II, a merchant from New York City, received 2880 acres, 400 of which were on a slope overlooking the Hudson River. He named his estate Mount Gulian, in honor of his grandfather and had the first house on the site built between 1730 and 1740. The building was a small structure with an a-roof. Archaeological evidence suggests it was probably enlarged around 1767 and the characteristic gambrel roof as well as two porches were added between this year and the American Revolutionary War.

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Mount Gulian in an early picture

The Revolutionary War years:

During the war, Gulian Verplanck’s son Samuel stayed at the house, while his wife, Judith Commerlin remained at the family mansion at 3 Wall Street in Manhattan. In early 1783, Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben made Mount Gulian his headquarters. At the same time, George Washington had his headquarters in Hasbrouck House, Newburgh on the opposite side of the Hudson River.

On the morning of May 13, 1783, a group of officers of the Continental Army met at Mount Gulian to found the Society of the Cincinnati. Mount Gulian is headquarters of the Society’s New York State branch. The building was extended by in 1804 by Daniel Crommelin Verplanck, the grandson of Gulian Verplanck II, who also laid out the garden. When Marquis de Lafayette visited the house on his return to America in 1824, he stayed in the new addition.

In 1803, upon the death of Judith Commerlin Verplanck, the family mansion at 3 Wall Street was closed and much of its furnishings moved to Mount Gulian. In 1849, construction of the Hudson River Railroad cut off access to the Verplanck boat and bathhouse at the end of the property at the shoreline.

The Restoration of the House:

The original mansion was destroyed in a fire laid by an arsonist in 1931. After this, this ruin of the house was left unattended until 1966, when Bache Bleecker, a descendant of the Verplanck family and his wife, Connie, founded the Mount Gulian Society, as a nonprofit private organization. The goal reconstructed the house to the state it was when it served as von Steuben’s headquarters. The interior contains artifacts related to the Verplanck family. The 18 century Dutch barn was moved here as well.

(This information came from Wiki and I give them full credit for the information)

History of the Verplanck Family:

Mount Gulian is the Hudson Valley colonial homestead of the Verplanck family. Between 1633 and 1638, a Dutch entrepreneur named Abraham Isaac Verplanck arrived in New Netherlands Colony (now New York and New Jersey) from Holland. He originally came to purchase land for a farming settlement and trading post. The trading post would enable him to trade Dutch goods with the local Native Americans in exchange for beaver and other furs, Indian tobacco and trade goods that were rare in Europe. New Amsterdam was a thriving port and frontier town, filled with Dutch settlers, Indians and traders from all over Europe, Africans, both freemen and slaves, as well as French Huguenots seeking to escape from religious persecution in Europe and Jews fleeing the Inquisition in South American came to a relatively tolerant and busy New Amsterdam.

Abraham Issac Verplanck settled in the growing city and became a prosperous businessman. he married Maria Vigne Roos by 1635, they had Abigail and Gulian (Gulyn is Old Dutch for William), Catalyna, Isaak, Sussanna, Jacomyntje, Ariaentje, Hillegond and Isaak II Issak II moved to Albany and established the Verplanck line in that city, which exists today.

In 1664, an English nave appeared off the coast of New Amsterdam and demanded the city’s surrender. The Dutch surrendered their colony, swore loyalty to the British Crown and saw the city renamed New York. The Verplancks spoke Dutch but were now English citizens. By the 1680’s, Gulian Verplanck was sailing up the Hudson River looking for land to increase his wealth. In 1683, with partners Francis Rombout and Stephanus Van Cortlandt, Gulian Verplanck bought 85,000 acres of land from the local Wappinger Indians for approximately $1200 worth of goods. About 75 miles north of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River for miles and going inland into rich meadows and forests, encompassing nearly one-seventh of modern Dutchess County, NY in today’s Fishkill-Beacon area, the purchase was quite a bargain. In 1685, the Deed of Sale was approved by King James II of England and is known as the Rombout Patent. For the next forty-five years, Verplanck, Rombout and various partners and heirs sub-divided, sold off and rented portions of this huge tract of land, while logging, hunting and planting crops on the land.

During the English colonial period, the Verplancks became quite prosperous and built a fine home on Wall Street in Manhattan. The Verplancks were civic minded and participated in the development of the business and banking industry in New York City and were among the Trustees of Kings College, now known as Columbia University. Around 1730, a colonial-style fieldstone house was built in Fishkill Landing on the Rombout Patent land. This rough frontier home was gradually surrounded by a working plantation, a dock on the Hudson that facilitated the New York-Kingston-Albany trade and many service buildings for servants and crop production. This homestead was called “Mount Gulian”, and it was used as a summer retreat for the family and a working plantation but it is not believed that any family member lived at the site year round until the early 1800’s. Other Verplancks at this time lived in Albany and Verplanck Point in Westchester County, NY.

The Verplancks were prominent citizens in colonial New York while maintaining correspondence with their Dutch relatives in Holland. Young Samuel Verplanck was fortunate enough to take “the grande tour” of Europe in 1761. As businessmen of that era, it must be noted that the Verplancks of Manhattan and Mount Gulian owned slaves during the mid-1700’s and into the early 1800’s, most likely house servants and skilled laborers.

Before the Revolutionary War, Samuel Verplanck became involved with anti-British groups and joined “the Committee of Safety of One -Hundred” in Manhattan. This patriot group was poised to take over the city in the event of rebellion, which occurred on April 19, 1775 at Lexington & Concord.

Later during the War for Independence, Verplanck turned over Mount Gulian to the Continental Army because of its strategic location on the Hudson near the Fishkill Barracks and across from Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh. In late 1782, through the summer of 1783, Mount Gulian was the Continental Army headquarters of patriot General Fredrich Von Steuben. After the American victory at Yorktown, upon learning of the Treaty of Paris, General Von Steuben and other Chief American officers created at Mount Gulian on May 13, 1783 the Society of the Cincinnati, America’s first veterans fraternal organization.

In 1804, Daniel Crommelin Verplanck, a member of Congress moved from Manhattan to permanently occupy the home at Mount Gulian, which underwent extensive expansion with the addition of a large frame house attached to the original homestead. An ornamental “English Garden”, all the rage in Europe at the time, was laid out by him and his daughter, Mary Anna to supplement the 6 acres “kitchen garden” and the fields filled with salable crops. More permanent structures wee built on the property, still thousands of acres, including barns, smokehouses, storage buildings and structures to facilitate brick making from clay taken from the Hudson.

The Verplanck family grew and eventually married into many prominent families in New York such as the Schulyers, the Johnsons, the Delanceys and the Bleeckers. Daniel’s son, Gulian C. Verplanck, also a member of Congress, ran for Mayor of New York in 1834, losing what many believe was a fixed election. Other Verplancks were judges, businessmen and wealthy farmers.

With slavery abolished in New York in 1827, the conservative Verplancks, along with many upper class Northerners, gradually sided with the abolitionists, even hiring and assisting James Brown, an escaped slave who worked for the family for forty years. Brown’s diaries, written at Mount Gulian, provide a detailed record of daily life there.

During the Civil War, Robert Newlin Verplanck volunteered in the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops, training and fighting along side black troops until the vistory at Appomattox. His battlefield letters to his mother and sister have been preserved by Mount Gulian.

The Victorian era at Mount Gulian was a grand time, as the family associated with the local Livingstons, Roosevelts and Vanderbilts. Many Verplancks achieved fame in the professions, in arts and letters and as sportsmen. Verplanck Colvin was a topographical engineer who extensively surveyed the Adirondacks. Virginia E. Verplanck was a celebrated gardener and hostess. John Bayard Verplanck was an early seaplane flyer, racing World War I era veteran and banker.

Mount Gulian was occupied by the Verplancks until 1931, when the house was destroyed by fire. Many of the furnishings and valuable were saved by family members, neighbors and firemen who cleared the house before it was fully engulfed. Prior to the American Bi-centennial of 1976, Mount Gulian was beautifully restored with the assistance of Verplanck descendants, local history lovers and members of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1998, Mount Gulian sponsored a well-attended family reunion, which included an updated version of the family genealogy book originally from 1892. Today Ms. Charlotte Verplanck Willman is one of the Mount Gulian Historic Site’s Board of Trustees.

(This information was taken from the Mount Gulian Society website and I give them full credit for the information.)

Boscobel House & Gardens  1601 Route 9D Garrison, NY 10524

Boscobel House & Gardens 1601 Route 9D Garrison, NY 10524

Boscobel House & Gardens

1601 Route 9D

Garrison, NY  10524

(845) 265-3638

http://www.boscobel.org

Homepage

Open: Sunday-Monday 9:30am-5:00pm (closes 4:00pm between November and January 5th) The house is only open between April and the beginning of January.

Fee:  Adults $18.00/Seniors $15.00/Children (5-18) $9.00/Children (under 5 years old) Free (This is for house and Garden/Garden tours are different and depend on the season. Please check the website)

My review on TripAdvisor:

 

I recently visited the Boscobel House and Garden for their Christmas decorations and for a tour of the house at the holidays. Like most houses of its time period (the house was built in 1806), it was Post-Revolutionary War and the decorations would not have been that lavish as in the Victorian times.

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The Grand Foyer at Boscobel

The house was tastefully decorated with garlands and mistletoe along the archways inside the foyer and with holly and mistletoe inside the house. Some of the tables were set for afternoon tea and entertaining in the Reception Room and there was a small table Christmas tree which were just coming into vogue after the War of 1812. The Reception Room was also set for entertaining as would be done in the holidays months in the later 1800’s.

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The lights of Boscobel during the holidays

Our tour guide, Sam, was fantastic and I hope when you tour the house he is your guide. I was impressed with his knowledge of the house and of the Dyckman family. I had not realized that they were related to the Dyckman Farmhouse family in Inwood (See my review and write ups on the Dyckman Farmhouse here on VisitingaMuseum.com and MywalkinManhattan.com).

He told the story of the man who had the house built, how he made his fortune, how he died young and then his son and his wife dying around the same time and the son-in-law squandered the fortune with a series of bad investments and the house was foreclosed. It sat empty and was falling apart until a group of local citizens saved it.

The house is now back in its full beauty and furnished in period furnishings to reflect the time that the house was built. The tour takes you through the main foyer which you would have been received in and there would have been dancing here with a band at the top of the steps.

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The Drawing/Receiving Room at Boscobel

We next viewed both the Drawing/Music Room where Mrs. Dyckman would have received guests and where informal entertaining would have happened. There was also musical instruments and player music boxes on display.

We then toured the Library area with books that were brought in from England and furniture that had been custom made for the house.

We crossed the foyer again and entered the Formal Dining Room, where the table was set for a holiday dinner. The candles had been lit (they were electric) and the room had a warm glow to it. The windows must have let in natural light so earlier meals must have been quite nice when in the summer months the sun shined inside the room.

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The Dining Room for the holidays at Boscobel

There was custom made china set on the places and there was family silver next to it. The side boards were made by Sheraton and the cut glass had been imported from England.

We then toured the back areas of the Butler’s Pantry where all the food would have finished and plated. The room had all sorts of gadgets to keep the plates warm and where all the silver and china would have been kept.

We then toured the upstairs bedrooms, where we learned the family would have ‘camped out’ in for the cold winter months. I was surprised to learn that the whole front of the house was closed off and the upstairs bedrooms would have been sealed off with fireplaces to keep them warm and the cloth hangings around the bed to keep out the drafts. Both mother and son’s bedrooms were nicely furnished with period furniture.

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The bedroom at Boscobel

Our last stop was the kitchen in the basement back area of the house where all the food would have been prepared and brought up to the Butler’s Pantry. There were all sorts of kitchen equipment for roasting, baking and boiling. You could tell that it was not easy work cooking these elaborate meals without the modern conveniences that we take for granted today. These cooks had a tougher time with the stoves and fireplaces as a source of cooking.

What I thought was a nice touch at the end of the tour in the kitchen area was that Sam served us cold apple cider and small gingerbread men which I thought was special keeping with the house’s tradition of a place of entertainment. I thought it was gracious and very much welcome.

It really was an interesting tour and I will have to return in the summer months.

 

History of Boscobel House & Gardens:

States Morris Dyckman was a descendant of a German-Dutch family whose roots in New York stretched back to 1662. During the American Revolution, he was a Loyalist serving as a clerk in the British army’s Quartermaster Department. In 1779, he accompanied his quartermaster superiors to England and for the next decade he rebutted the government allegations that the quartermasters had engaged in profiteering. (As the keeper of the department’s ledgers, he well knew how they had fattened their purses, assets Dyckman’s biographer James Thomas Flexner). The officers were eventually cleared, largely because of Dyckman’s testimony. They rewarded him with an annuity.

Dyckman returned to America in 1789 after a general amnesty of Loyalists had been declared. Five years later, he married Elizabeth Corne, a member of a distinguished New York family and 21 years his junior. Dyckman returned along to England in 1800 to settle problems with the payment of his annuity. The trip lasted nearly four years but was a success. He returned a rich man worth more than seven million dollars today. Before he left England, he bought many items for the house including silver, china, glass and books for his library.

The architect for the house was unknown but records show that Mr. Dyckman had some influence in the design of the house. Mr. Dyckman died in 1806 at age 51 and the house had only had the foundation finished at time. His 30 year old wife, Elizabeth finished the house in 1808 with the help of her husband’s cousin, William Vermilyea. She furnished the house and added to its inventory. She and her son, Peter lived in the house upon finishing it. She lived in the house until her death in 1823 and her son, Peter died the following year in 1824 at age 27. The house stayed in the family until about 1899 and then was foreclosed on. According to the guide, the house had not been updated at that point and was falling apart. The house had a series of absent owners over the next few years and then sat empty. It was bought by Westchester County in 1924 and the grounds were turned into a park.

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Boscobel House & Gardens in winter

In 1945, the park was acquired by the Veterans Administration for a hospital and the owners took care of the exterior for a time. By 1954, the house was considered an excess on the budget and was being sold for $35.00 for demolition.

The house was saved by Historian Benjamin West Frazier and some friends of his who raised about $10,000 to have the house moved and dismantled to save ‘this treasure’. The house was stored in pieces until 1955, when Lila Acheson Wallace, the co-founder of Readers Digest became involved in the project.

She purchased the land that the house now sits on and devoted her time and money to have the house restored and worked with the curators of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she was a donor to help restore the house into its period design with landscaped gardens and period furniture. In 1959, she commissioned the firm of Innocenti & Webel to create the gardens that surround the house. The house opened to the public in 1961.

(This information was taken from the Boscobel Museum Booklet and I give them full credit for the information)

 

Bronx Museum of the Arts  1040 Grand Concourse  The Bronx, NY 10456

Bronx Museum of the Arts 1040 Grand Concourse The Bronx, NY 10456

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

1040 Grand Concourse

The Bronx, NY  10456

(718) 681-600

http://www.bronxmuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Free

My review on Tripadvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d312012-Reviews-Bronx_Museum_of_the_Arts-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I recently had some time to visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts when I was visiting Yankee Stadium recently for a football game. The museum is right down the road on the Grand Concourse. It is an impressive little museum.

I had wanted to see the exhibit “Art Versus Transit: 1977-1987” by artist Henry Chalfant who had recorded the graffiti art on the subway cars during the late 70’s into the early 1980’s. This is before the subway investing in the new subway cars that could be cleaned by hosing them off.

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“Art versus Transit: 1977-1987”

The art was interesting as it was an expression of the times just when Hip-Hop was becoming popular and the City was going through the financial crisis. The artist did a good job capturing the times. Not only do we see the art but the music and dance as well of the time.

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Subway Art

The other exhibition that I saw was “The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop” which displayed the artist’s interpreted that Gay Community and the beginnings of the AIDS crisis. It was an another interesting perspective of the times of New York City.

Mission and Background:

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audience to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions and education programs. Reflecting the borough’s dynamic communities. The Museum is the crossroad where artists, local residents, national and international visitors meet.

Today an internationally recognized cultural destination. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is committed to presenting new ideas and voices in a global context and making contemporary art a vital, relevant experience. For the past four decades, the Bronx Museum has presented hundreds of changing exhibitions featuring works by culturally diverse and under-represented artists from a spectrum of levels. Exhibition have investigated themes of special interest to the Bronx community while exploring the interplay between contemporary art and popular culture.

A permanent collection of over 2000 artworks in all visual media preserves and documents artists who are not typically represented within traditional museum collections by showcasing work by artists of African, Asian and Latin American ancestry, as well as artists for who the Bronx has been critical to their development. The Museum provides direct support to artists through Artist in the Marketplace, which nurtures the work of 35  emerging artists each year and providers professional development seminars culminating in a multi-site biennial exhibition and catalog.

The Museum’s education department empowers students from grades K-12 by offering a variety of programs that inspire academic proficiency visual literacy and critical thinking. Through the Group Visits Program, students are exposed to the Museum’s works during single-session tours lead by teaching artists. Through In-School Partnerships. Museum educators work with school teachers to encourage scholastic excellence through the application of arts education techniques in addition, the Museum’s Teen Council Program helps Bronx high-school students build applied arts and media skills as they create a variety of visual and text-based materials.

(Bronx Museum of the Arts Mission-Website)

History:

The Museum opened on May 11, 1971, in a partnership between the Bronx Council on the Arts, which was founded in 1961 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The opening coincided with a borough-wide “Bronx Day” event. The first exhibit consisted of 28 paintings from the Met’s collection. The Museum was first housed in the first floor rotunda of the Bronx County Courthouse. Additional galleries were located in the Bronx’s Co-op City, Bedford Park and Allerton neighborhoods. In its first 12 years of operation, the museum held over 350 exhibitions.

In 1982, the city purchased a vacant synagogue at 165th Street and the Grand Concourse as a new location for the museum. The new location opened to the public in May 1983 in conjunction with “Bronx Week”, which succeeded “Bronx Day”. The new space was inaugurated with an exhibition of twentieth artwork. It consisted of paintings, photographs and prints borrowed from the Met.

In February 2004, construction began on a $19 million expansion project that doubled the museum’s size 33.000 square feet. The expansion opened in October 2006. In 2008, a arts center was added to accommodate educational programs for local schoolchildren and their families. The Museum no longer charges fees since 2012.

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The Bronx Museum of Art and its additions

The original design was by Simon B. Zelnick in 1961 and the extensions were designed by Castro-Blanco, Piscioneri & Feder in 1988 and a second addition in 2006 by Arquitectonica.

(The Bronx Museum WIKI)

 

 

Clermont State Historic Site               County Route 6  Germantown, NY 12526

Clermont State Historic Site County Route 6 Germantown, NY 12526

Clermont State Historic Site-New York Parks & Recreation

Route 6 (Off Route 9G)

Germantown, NY  12526

(518) 537-6622

https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/16/details.aspxhttp:/clermontstatehistoricsite.blogspot.comwww.friendsofclermont.org

https://www.friendsofclermont.org/

Open: April 11-October 31 Wednesday-Sunday 10:30am-4:00pm/November 1-

December 22/Saturday & Sunday 10:30am-3:00pm

Please call in advance due to seasons and weather conditions

Fee: Adults $7.00/Seniors and Adults $6.00/Children Under 12 and Members Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47780-d263704-Reviews-The_Clermont_Mansion-Germantown_New_York.html?m=19905

I enjoy coming up to Germantown to visit the Clermont Mansion at any time of the year especially at Christmas time. The old mansions of the Hudson River Valley show their real beauty at this time of the year.

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The Clermont Library decorated for Christmas

Walking around Clermont is like walking through a history book. To think you are walking around the very rooms that family members who wrote the Declaration of Independence, were Governors and Ambassadors from our country and who owned most of Upstate New York lived is really incredible. The Livingston Family did so much for the United States in the formation of this country is a testament to the family.

The tour was wonderful because of the one on one conversation I had with my tour guide, Molly. We started in the entry hallway where the family hang many of the family portraits and the long hall lead to wonderful views of the Hudson River.

The next room decorated for the holidays was the Music/Withdrawing Room with more beautiful views of the river and a very interesting clock on the mantle that there are only two in the world. This clock represented the first balloon launch in France and this was the clock where the balloon went up. In France was the other clock with the balloon going down. I thought that was pretty interesting.

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The Balloon Clock on the mantle decorated for Christmas

Our next stop was the Library which seemed very homey and relaxing. It looked like a room that a family would want to spend their time in after a long day. The windows faced the river and the formal gardens at that time and let in a lot of light. The room was decorated with a elegant tree and looked like the family was ready to walk in and join us for the holidays.

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The Library of Clermont

Next it was off to the formal Dining Room where the portraits of Margaret Beekman Livingston (a VERY distant relative of mine by marriage) and her husband, Robert Livingston hung. She had saved these along with the grandfather clock before her first house was burned by the British during the war years. It was set for Christmas lunch when the family would dine together.

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The Clermont Dining Room is very elegant at Christmas

We also toured where the food was prepared and prepped from the kitchen to the Dining Room, which was all done in organized fashion. I was told by the tour guide that for the most part the family lived her year round unlike some of the other mansions who only lived here during certain times of the season.

We took a walk upstairs to see the upstairs bedrooms and see where the third Mrs. Livingston lived. I thought it was interesting that she had two beds in her room in which neither was big enough to accommodate her.

Then it was back down to the formal hallway for the end of the tour. The one thing I have to say about Clermont is that it looks like someones home not some grand mansion like the Mills or Vanderbilt mansions that looked like they for a moment time or only for a season. This family lived here all the time.

I will have to come back to see the gardens in bloom during the Spring and Summer.

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The home in all its beauty

 

The History of Clermont:

The name Clermont derives from “clear mountain” in French and was inspired by the view of the Catskill Mountains across the Hudson River from the estate.

The estate was established by Robert Livingston following the death of his father, the first Lord of the Manor was inherited by the eldest son, Philip Livingston, 13,000 acres in the southwest corner later named Clermont was willed to Robert. The original house was built around 1740.

Robert Livingston of Clermont died on June 27, 1775 and the estate passed to his son, Robert, who was known as ‘Judge Livingston’ to distinguish him from his father. Judge Livingston was a member of the New York General Assembly from 1759 to 1768, served as Judge of the admiralty court from 1760 to 1763 and was a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. He married Margaret Beekman, daughter of Colonel Henry Beekman. Their son, Robert R. Livingston, later known as “Chancellor”, served on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Judge Robert died about six months after his father, on December 9, 1775.

Burning and  Rebuilding:

In October 1777, British ships sailed upriver from New York City in support of General John Burgoyne who was north of Albany. That same force had already stormed two forts in the Hudson Highlands and burned Kingston, New York. Major General John Vaughan led a raiding party to Clermont and burned Livingston’s home because of the family’s role in the rebellion. Margaret Beekman Livingston rebuilt the family home between 1779 and 1782. Robert R. Livingston became the estate’s most prominent resident. Chancellor Livingston administered the oath of office to President General Washington, became Secretary of Foreign Affairs and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase.

He also partnered with Robert Fulton in 1807 to create the first commercially successful steamboat on the Hudson River, the North River Steamboat (later known as the Clermont) which stopped at the house on its inaugural trip.

The home’s final Livingston owners were John Henry Livingston and his wife, Alice. They added to the home and greatly valued the homes important historical role. The Livingston’s built second mansion on the property known as Arryl House, which burned down in 1909. The ruins of Arryl House are still visible at the south end of the property. Alice Livingston was responsible for creating many of the landscaped gardens that are continued to this day. Following John Henry’s death, Alice turned the Mansion and property over to the State of New York in 1962 so that all the people of New York could enjoy it.

The house is now a New York State Historic Site and was designated a United States National Historic landmark in 1972. It is a contributing property to another National Historic Landmark, the Hudson River Historic District. Although locate in the town of Clermont, its mailing address is in the nearby town of Germantown.

(This information is a combination from the Clermont Website and Wiki and I give them full credit for this information. Please check the website above for more information on the site and its activities through their Friends site.)

Day One Hundred and Twenty Eight-The Victorian Christmas Walking Tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile with the Cornell Club December 15th, 2018

Day One Hundred and Twenty Eight-The Victorian Christmas Walking Tour of the Ladies Shopping Mile with the Cornell Club December 15th, 2018

To all of you history buffs and readers who like architecture, take this Victorian Walking Tour I took last Christmas. It really shows how the City keeps changing.

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On Saturday, December 15th, I met with other members of the Cornell Club to travel back to the Victorian Era and learn about the traditions of the Christmas past. We explored the Gramercy Park, Union Square and lower Sixth Avenue sections of the City to visit where a New York Victorian Christmas would be celebrated and honored.

We would be walking the old “Ladies Shopping Mile” that had been built up right after the Civil War when the disposable income  for Middle and Upper Middle Class residents had increased after the Civil War and people wanted to spend their money at the newly built department stores, shops and restaurants.  The Industrial Revolution was in full swing and shopping had changed with the development of the department store.

The tour took us past brownstones, parks, restaurants and old department stores that line the streets of Manhattan between East and West 21st Street…

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Museum of Contemporary Art                 333 North Laura Street              Jacksonville, Florida 32202

Museum of Contemporary Art 333 North Laura Street Jacksonville, Florida 32202

Museum of Contemporary Art

333 North Laura Street

Jacksonville, Florida 32202

(904) 366-6911

https://mocajacksonville.unf.edu/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday & Wednesday 11:00am-5:00pm/ Thursday 11:00am-9:00pm/ Friday & Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Adults $8.00/Students, Seniors & Military $5.00/Children 2-12 $5.00/Children under 2 Free

 

On a recent visit to Jacksonville, Florida I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Jacksonville. It was such a nice experience and for such a small museum it had some interesting pieces of art and some unique gallery exhibits.

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The galleries are very interesting

In the Atrium area of the museum as you walk up the steps to the second floor, the giant sculpture, “The Fragility of the Promise” by artist Kedgar Volta sways and moves as you walk up the flights. The piece was quoted as that “the installation is the artist’s inquiry into the fluctuating interactions between our internal narratives and the external forces of culture and commerce. The fragility of the connection becomes a testament to the elusive promise of prosperity” (Gallery Newsletter). I didn’t see all that but what I saw was a piece that made interesting lights and sounds and when you walked under it you saw the complexity of what the artist was trying to do. It is a spectacular piece of art.

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“The Fragility of the Promise” by artist Kedgar Volta

In partnership with the University of North Florida-Jacksonville, I got to see the faculty exhibition with works from some of the working professors. I walked through the ‘Jay Shoots: Home” exhibition which shows the artist’s work in photography and structure of design in his works. Some were small boxes with pictures and others were small sculptures with superimposed shots. The museum quotes his work as “while these are hybrid works, or photo sculptures, retain the artist’s sense of formal beauty, they also display his humorous side as he explores the concept of the dwelling, how we create our sense of place, personally and collectively”. They are small interesting works that you have to see up close.

 

On the Third Floor, was the Special Exhibition Galleries featuring the exhibition “A Moment in Beijing: Su Xinping, Weng Yunpeng and Jizi”. These artists from China, represent the spectrum from young and old and give their take on paining and photography. Some of the works offer unusual color and design. Some pieces were somewhat unrecognizable while others used their sense of movement to show what the artist was trying to portray. You really have to look at the works for a second time.

On the top floor is the Education Gallery where students take art classes and they is a nice studio for kids and students to do their work. It was quiet the afternoon I was there.

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The MOCO at Hemming Square

On the ground floor is the restaurant and I have to say that it smells up the museum. The afternoon I toured the museum, the place smelled like burnt toast and grilled cheese. Very unusual for a Contemporary Art Museum but maybe that’s what brings in the patrons. Still I enjoyed my afternoon here and it only takes about an hour and a half to tour the whole facility.

History of the Museum of Contemporary Art-Jacksonville:

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville is also known is a contemporary art museum in Jacksonville, Florida funded and operated as a “cultural institute” of the University of North Florida. One of the largest contemporary art institutions in the Southeastern United States, it presents exhibition by international, national and regional artists.

MOCO Jacksonville was founded in 1924 as the Jacksonville Fine Arts Society, the first organization in the Jacksonville community devoted to the visual arts. In 1948, the Museum was incorporated as the Jacksonville Art Museum and in 1978 it became the first institution in Jacksonville to be accredited by the American Alliance of Museum.

In late 1999, the Museum acquired its permanent home, the historic Western Union Telegraph Building on Hemming Plaza, built by the Auchter Company, adjacent to the newly renovated City Hall and became the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art (JMOMA). In 2000, a series of preview exhibitions opened in a temporary  exhibition space while the building facade was restored to its original Art Deco style. The interior was completely refurbished to house the Museum’s galleries, educational facilities, a theater/auditorium, Museum Shop and Cafe Nola.

After moving to its downtown location, the Museum experienced rapid growth in both membership and the size of the permanent collection. The many substantial additions to the collection increased not only its quality but also its size to almost 800 pieces. After completing a recent review of the current scope of the Museum’s collection and exhibitions, discussions were held regarding the distinctions between modern and contemporary arts as well as the Museum’s mission and vision for the future. It was decided that in order for the Museum  to convey strong sense of identity and purpose to both the community and other art institutions across the country, its name should change. In November of 2006, the JMOMA became the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

The University of North Florida acquired the museum in 2009 to act as a cultural resource of the university.

(Wiki and MOCA Museum History 2019)

Disclaimer: I took this information from a combination of the MOCA History and Wiki and I give them full credit for this information.

 

Cummer Museum 829 Riverside Avenue Jacksonville, Florida 32204

Cummer Museum 829 Riverside Avenue Jacksonville, Florida 32204

Cummer Museum

829 Riverside Avenue

Jacksonville, Florida  32204

(904) 356-6875

cummermuseum.org

https://www.cummermuseum.org/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday & Friday 11:00am-9:00pm/Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday 11:00am-4:00pm

Fee: Adults $10.00/Seniors and Students (with valid ID) $6.00/Children under 5 and Members Free

 

I recently went Jacksonville, Florida while visiting relatives and spent time at the Cummer Museum which is in the Five Points section of the City. This small museum by the water offers galleries full of interesting art as well as beautiful gardens to stroll through when you are finished.

There were some interesting exhibitions to visit when we were there. The ‘Lewis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection’ showcased the artist’s works from glasses and tableware to a series of his famous lamps. These colorful works were sometimes lit so that you could see the intensity of the colors in the glass design.

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The Louis Comfort Tiffany display

Another interesting exhibition in the museum was the ‘Innovation and Imagination: The Global Dialogue in Mid to Late 20th Century Art’ showing the shift of the art world innovations from Paris to New York following World War II. Pop Art, Cubism and Modern art were displayed and it showed a range of styles of the artists some borrowing from more famous counterparts.

We also enjoyed visiting the Permanent Collection of the museum. The Cummer Family Parlor showed the family’s taste in furnishings and decoration to their home. A lot of late Victorian furniture is shown here.

The small showing of works in the Ancient Art Gallery displayed art from the Greek and Roman worlds and a few small items from Egypt.

The Gardens were the one thing that stood out. On a beautiful day there is nothing like strolling through the pathways along the tree lined stone ways. Most of the gardens had been damaged during Hurricane Irene so there is a lot of rebuilding going on.

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The pathway leading from the museum to the gardens

Along the river though are the gardens designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead for the museum grounds. These gardens are currently being renovated but you can still see the traces being redone in their updated form.

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It is best to visit the museum on a nice day to enjoy both the inside and outside of the museum.

 

History of the Cummer Museum & Gardens:

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is the culmination of the civic, social and business involvement of a remarkable family. The Cummer’s came from a long line of lumber barons, whose business interests began in Canada before branching out to Michigan, Virginia and Florida. As early as 1890, Wellington Willson Cummer (1846-1909) recognized the value of Florida cypress and prolific stands of pine timberlands in the state. After relocating his family from Morley, Michigan to Jacksonville, Florida, he went on to found the Cummer Lumber Company in 1896. Among his many feats, Wellington built a railroad for transporting lumber from the low country of Florida to Jacksonville, where the mills and distribution centers were located.

His sons, Arthur and Waldo Cummer, along with his son-in-law, John L. Roe, all of whom came up through the ranks in the family business, assumed control of the company after Wellington’s death in 1909.

In 1902, Mr. and Mrs. Cummer began constructing a large English Tudor Revival house, replete with exterior half- timbering and richly carved interior paneling. Situated on Riverside Avenue, the home was part of the close-knit family compound of three houses with adjacent gardens and the construction of the Cummer house led to Mrs. Cummer’s masterminding of her gardens. The development of the gardens would remain her passion until the time of Mr. Cummer’s death, with her focus expanding to the establishment of city parks for public access to the open environments. Today, the Cummer Gardens are one of the most popular locations in the city and visitors enjoy their beauty.

(Taken from the Cummer Museum History website)

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Cummer Museum History website and I give them full credit for the information.