On a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley for Fall events I took a tour of Bard Campus to visit their campus and tour Montgomery Place which the college bought from the Hudson River Historical Society in 2016. It is now part of the campus and you can tour the grounds but not the inside of the house.
Montgomery Place on the Bard College Campus
Before 2016 when the house was owned by the Hudson River Historical Society who used to have tours of the mansion. When the family sold the mansion and all its contents to the Society, they left the house untouched when they moved out you got to see how the Livingston family lived not just in current times but with all the historical furniture that came with the house. The former tour used to take you through each room that had antique furniture and decorations but much of the house had been modernized over the years. Older furnishings had either been conserved or slipcovered because of age. Since the house has been sold to Bard College, you can only tour the house by appointment only through the college.
The grounds are still impressive. During the Spring, the formal gardens next to the house are in full bloom and the last time I had taken a tour there, the gardens were being maintained by a local garden club. There were flower beds, herb gardens and cutting gardens on top of the flowing lawns from the house to the river.
The Montgomery Place Gardens are changing from Summer to Fall
In the Fall on a recent visit, most of the gardens had been cut back with a few seasonal flowering bushes still showing color. The trees surrounding the house were turning a gold hue while the lawn that had been freshly cut was still emerald green. The house while a little worn from the outside still looked like it was ready to receive guests for the Fall season in the Hudson River Valley. The views from the back of the house are breathtaking from the window views of the Hudson River and the paths leading to it.
There are all sorts of hiking trails to the Sawkill River and through the forests, a trail down to the Hudson River and tours of the property. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk and there is plenty of parking by the Visitor’s Center along with a history of the estate.
The property had been home Native Americans for at least 5,000 years as a seasonal hunting ground. The Dutch settled in the area in the late 18th century using the Saw Kill River for various mills.
In the late 1770’s, Janet Livingston Montgomery purchased from Abraham Van Benthuysen 242 acres of land on the Hudson River after the death of her husband General Richard Montgomery at the Battle of Quebec. She moved into the home they built after the Revolutionary War. She later had plans made for a Federal style mansion on the riverfront property she bough and moved into her new home, Chateau de Montgomery, in 1805. She established a working farm with the help of friends who gave her tree samples (Wiki).
Upon her death in 1828, the mansion was inherited by her brother, Edward Livingston. He had spent his summers vacationing here with his wife, Louise. They renamed the estate ‘Montgomery Place’. He died the next year and his wife, Louise hired Alexander Jackson Davis to convert the mansion into a more ornate villa. Two wings and exterior decoration were added at this time of the renovation. With the help of Andrew Jackson Downing, a friend of Louise’s and mentor to Davis, she developing the landscapes. Her daughter, Cora Barton worked with the architect on designing garden and conservatory (Wiki).
Upon Louise’s death in 1860, Cora and her husband hired Davis again to build some the earlier outbuildings including Coach House, Swiss Cottage and farmhouse and then extended the landscaping to turn the estate into more ‘pleasure grounds’ and have a separation from the farming operations. The house then passed on to another relative in 1921, John Ross Delafield who added heating and modern plumbing to the house. He and his wife also extended the gardens on the estate as well (Wiki).
Upon his death, his son John White Delafield inherited the house and they opened two corporations to own and operate the property. In 1981, the estate was sold to the Historic Hudson Valley, the historical society. After an extensive renovation, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992 and it was bought by Bard College in 2016 who is its current owner (Wiki).
I have visited the Philipsburg Manor House and Estate many times over the years. During the “Headless Horseman” Halloween activities, the house is open for tours. You are able to tour the rooms and see the home in a spooky environment. The house was lit by candles and the tour guides lead you through the house.
During a special event at the holidays, the house had seasonal decorations, lit by a combination candles and open hearth fires in the fireplace and tour guides explained a Colonial holiday season.
The Manor House as it was explained to me was a place where the Philipse family stayed when they were away from the main family mansion and was doing business on the estate. So the home was comfortable and workable and functional but not luxurious as the main manor house where the family lived. The kitchen, common room and bedrooms were nicely furnished at the time for the owners visits but was not elegant in the form of the main manor house. This was full working estate at all times. The Mill is located near the manor house and their are walking paths around the house.
During the Halloween season, both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are busy with activities with readings, cemetery tours, ‘haunted events’ and other activities. Please check out the Historic Hudson Valley website for the roster of events. Things have changed since the era of COVID.
The History of the Philipsburg Manor House:
(WIKI/Historic Hudson River Valley Society)
The Philipsburg Manor House is an historic house in the Upper Mills Section of the former sprawling Colonial-era estate known as Philipsburg Manor. Together with the water mill and the trading site the house is operated bas a non-profit museum by the Historical Hudson River Valley. It is located on US 9 in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, NY. (Wiki)
The Philipsburg Manor House and Mill area of the estate
The Manor House dates from 1693 when wealthy Province of New York merchant Frederick Philipse was granted a charter for 52,00 acres along the Hudson River by the British Crown. He built this facility at the meeting of the Pocantico and Hudson Rivers as a provisioning depot for the family Atlantic sea trade and as headquarters for a worldwide shipping operation. For more than thirty years, Frederick and his wife, Margaret and later his son Adolph shipped hundreds of African men, women and children as slaves across the Atlantic. The manor was tenanted by farmers of various European backgrounds and operated by enslaved Africans (Wiki).
The working kitchen at the Philipsburg Manor house
At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Philipses supported the British Crown and their landholdings were seized and auctioned off. The manor house was used during the war, most notably by British General Sir Henry Clinton during the militaries in 1779. It was there that he wrote what is know as the Philipsburg Proclamation, which declared all Patriot-owned slaves to be freed and that blacks taken prisoner while serving in Patriot forces would be sold in slavery (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).
The reproduction of the bedroom in Philipsburg Manor when the family stayed in house
A National Historic Landmark in 1961, the farm features a stone manor house filled with a collection of 17th and 18th Century period furnishings, a working water-powered grist mill and millpond, an 18 century barn, a slave garden and reconstructed tenant farm house (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).
During the season when the estate is open for visitors, there are costumed interpreters who reenact life in pre-Revolutionary War times doing various chores around the estate. During the Halloween season, the home is open for haunted tours of the manor during the “Headless Horseman” event. During the Christmas holiday season, the home is open for seasonal activities. Please check the website during COVID for activities (Historic Hudson River Valley).
Open: To Groups on Fridays and Saturdays and to individuals on Saturdays 10:00am/12:00pm/2:00pm
Fee: Free to Individuals/Donations welcome-Groups tours are $100.00 for up to five people with an additional $15.00 fee per person. There is also an administration fee of $25.00 for groups over 20 people.
It is amazing what you discover when you are walking around the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I was exploring the Streets of the Upper East Side for my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan’ and when walking around the Hunter College Campus came across the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House at 47-49 East 65th Street.
This beautiful brownstone was built as a wedding present to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor and their future family by his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. It was their New York City residence until they moved to the White House. His mother continued to use the house until her death in 1941 when the home was sold to Hunter College.
Tours are available when the building is open (Hunter College is currently closed) and you can tour the whole house. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
History of the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House:
The Neo-Georgian townhouse was designed by architect Charles A. Platt for Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt in 1907. It originally held “two mirror-image residences with a single facade and entrance. Each floor had its own front reception room with a welcoming fireplace. Rear parlous could be combined through sliding doors
The mansion at 47-49 East 65th Street on the Upper East Side
The house was given to the Roosevelt’s by Franklin’s mother as a wedding gift for them. The house originally two homes and Franklin’s mother had doors put in place so she could enter their part of the home whenever she wanted. The house was used by Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt from its completion in 1908 to her death in 1941 and intermittently by the Roosevelts until the sale to Hunter College in 1943.
The house historical marker
After his mother’s death in 1941, President Roosevelt and his wife placed the house up for sale and a non-profit consortium was organized to purchase the house on behalf of Hunter College.
The Extended Roosevelt family
The house was closed in 1992 and reopened in 2010 after an $18 million renovation. Leslie E Robertson Associates was the structural engineers on this renovation. The building is currently used by Hunter College as the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College or just known as the Roosevelt House.
The inside of the house’s museum
(Disclaimer: This information was from Wiki and I give them full credit for the History of the Roosevelt House).