Tag: Decorated Christmas Mansions

Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society           2 Spring Street      Wappinger’s Falls, NY 12590

Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society 2 Spring Street Wappinger’s Falls, NY 12590

The Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society

2 Spring Street

Wappinger’s Falls, NY  12590

(845) 632-1281

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm

Fee: Donation Suggested

https://www.wappingershistoricalsociety.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48799-d16919924-Reviews-Mesier_Homestead_and_Museum-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I visited the Mesier Homestead recently and toured the home with a local docent. The home to four generations of the Mesier family,  the house is decorate with furnishings from the Victorian era and shows life as it may have been in the late 1880’s.

There are reproductions of family portraits in the Living Room and hallway, a formally set Dining Room for dinner showed the family’s status in the community. By the amount of space available for living and entertaining with the separate rooms for use in the home it showed how times were changing with the affluence of that time.

The second floor tour is a view of the slave quarters and the two family bedrooms. What I thought was interesting on the tour is how the family had to co-mingle in the bedrooms because of the amount of children in the family and how mom and dad were not always alone.

There were many family items in the house like clothing, children’s toys and playthings and items for recreation like bikes,  ice skates and musical instruments of a time before TV, movies and radio. There were also items for spinning and making clothes.

The tour guide also noted the drafts in the house before insulation was put in and the conditions of the time with weather effecting living conditions inside with drafts in the winter and heat in the summer through the roof plyboards. The tour takes about an hour.

Recently the house was decorated for the Christmas holidays with garland, holly and fragrant oranges that once masked the household smells. They also gave the house a festive fragrance. These popular tours last through the holiday season.

Please check their website for a list of their activities.

 

The History of the Mesier Homestead:

The Mesier Homestead and surrounding property was sold to the Village of Wappinger’s Falls in 1891 with the understanding that it forever be known as Mesier Homestead and Mesier Park. The Wappinger’s Historical Society acquired full custodianship of the Homestead in 2007 and through ongoing fundraising efforts has been able to restore the Homestead to its present appearance.

Wappinger's Falls Historical Society II

The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime

The History of the house:

The house itself is part of the ‘Rombout Patent’ of land that had been bought by the Dutch from the local Indian tribes by three prominent Dutch families. This section of the property was bought by Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer and contained 750 acres of land around the Falls area and they built the first stone house in the village near present Mill Street. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill on the east side of Wappinger Creek.

Nicholas Brewer built the Mesier Homestead, which he sold in 1777 to Matthew Van Benschoten who in turn sold it to Peter Mesier, a merchant from New York City. In May 1777, soldiers and local residents attacked Peter Mesier’s house in Wappinger’s Falls, disputing the price of tea for sale in a small store inside the home. Mesier was a merchant from New York City and a Loyalist. The angry mob struck Mesier, beat his slaves and drank wine stored in the cellar. They also took the tea and left a small amount of money behind. The house was in the possession of the family for the next four generations (Wiki).

The organization’s goal for 2020 and beyond is to restore the original 1741 building so it can be a showcase of our Colonial history. Your membership, gifts and in kind donations will help us maintain and restore this jewel of Wappinger’s Falls.

Wappinger's Falls Historical Society III

The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime

The Mission of the Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society:

The Wappinger’s Historical is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the Town of Wappinger, the Village of Wappinger’s Falls and neighboring communities and to maintain the custodianship of the Mesier Homestead.

When you are a member of the Wappinger’s Historical Society, you help:

*Preserve and expand our archives, collections and library to actively chronicle the life of our hamlets, village and town for future generations.

*Develop and implement programs and exhibits so that people of all ages can better understand their connection to history.

*Safeguard our architectural heritage of the 1741 Mesier Homestead.

(This information was taken from the Wappinger’s Falls pamphlet and I give them full credit for it)

Wappinger's Falls Historical Society

The Mesier Homestead

 

 

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, the  house laid in ruin and 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 victory 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)

 

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.)

Skylands Manor-New Jersey Botanical Garden  5 Morris Road  Ringwood, NJ 07456

Skylands Manor-New Jersey Botanical Garden 5 Morris Road Ringwood, NJ 07456

Skylands Manor-New Jersey Botanical Garden

5 Morris Road

Ringwood, NJ  07456

(973) 962-9370

http://www.ringwoodmanor.org/Victorian-Christmas.html

The Skylands Manor is decorated for the holidays during the first week of December and only for one weekend as it used for a banquet facility the rest of the time and as a hotel. The first weekend of December is when local Gardening groups are assigned one room to decorate and they have one week to put it together, display their ideas and explain how they did it to the public. The best day to go is the Thursday afternoon opening as it is the quietest day of the four day event with Saturday being the busiest.

In 2018:

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Each of the eleven rooms that were decorated for the event were amazing each with their own decor, docents and gardeners and theme to the room. The Entrance Hall was elegant with its garland and potted plants, the Octagon Hall used its space wisely with a series of trees and hot house flowers. The women who decorated it had a phenomenal sense of space.

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The Teaneck Garden Club did a great job decorating the Library with an elegant Christmas Tree and vintage ornaments. Some of the gardeners also came in vintage clothing of the area.

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Each room had its own personality and was a combination of Christmas decorations and holiday plants.

In 2019:

In 2019, the decorations were not as elaborate as the previous two years. The snow storm before the event may have put a damper on a few of the groups decorating. Still the best day to visit the manor is Thursday afternoon as it is the quietest time and you can take the best pictures.

The two best rooms in the manor in 2019 were the Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase decorated by the Magnificent Seven, a group of volunteers whose theme was ‘The Secret Life of Gnomes’ and the trees and staircases were studded with gnomes, large and small, on the trees and wreathes surrounding the stairs.

The other room that was very impressive was the Center Hall whose theme was the “Enchanted Forest, full of little fairies and painted rocks and jeweled winged ornaments. When you looked at the detail work of the trees and table displays you could see the work that went into the decor. Each little fairy on the stands and trees had immense detail and took a lot of time. This display was done by the Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne, NJ.

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Skylands Manor in 2019

The rest of the rooms in the manor were really pared down from 2018 and did not have the same elaborate details to them. The Library and Study did not have half of the display items that they did in the past.

The fee to enter the home is still $10.00. The carriage house is being used for a cafe with Chicken Salad sandwiches and hot dogs with toppings. There are all sorts of crafts for sale.

Watch the calendar for 2020 in early December for the next display.

 

History of the Skylands Manor & People:

Clarence McKenzie Lewis bought Skylands in 1922 from the estate of Francis Lynde Stetson, who founded Skylands in 1891. Mr. Lewis was educated in England and Germany. While he was there, his widowed mother, Helen Forbes Lewis married William Salomon, founder of the New York banking house. Upon his return, Lewis attended Columbia University, where he received a Civil Engineering degree in 1898. In 1908, he married and bought a country place in Mahwah; it was there that Lewis became interested in horticulture.

Helen Lewis Salomon, the mother of Clarence Lewis, was widowed in 1919. Not only thereafter, she and her bereaved son agreed to a joint project; she wanted a Tudor-style showplace; he wanted plants and gardens. Mrs. Salomon worked closely with the architect on Skylands Manor but she died in 1927 before its completion.

John Russell Pope (1874-1937) “an architect born to work, in the grand style” was educated at City College, Columbia University, the American Academy in Rome and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He trained under Bruce Price, the master builder of Tuxedo Park. Pope designed many outstanding public buildings, such as the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art.

Tutor Architecture originated in England in the late Gothic period and continued to be popular into the Renaissance. It features half-timbering on the exterior, crenelated walls, large groups of rectangular windows, oriel or bay windows and intricate chimney complexes The interiors usually had large central halls, wood paneling, molded plaster ceilings and elaborately carved staircases. Tudor Revival became a popular style for the elegant country houses of wealthy Americans.

The builder of Skylands was the Elliot C. Brown Co., of New York City, which also built the country homes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Hyde Park and E. Roland Harriman (Arden House).

Samuel Yellin (1885-1940) decorative metal designer and craftsman, who performed to call himself “the blacksmith”, fashioned the lanterns. electrical fixtures, lamps, gate, and spiral staircase rail for Skylands Manor.

Native Granite for the exterior walls of Skylands was quarried at Pierson Ridge above Emerald Pond in the eastern part of the property in Bergen County.

Mrs. Salomon purchased a collection of antique Stained Glass Medallions from an English collector. The 16th century German, Bavarian and Swiss panes were set in leaded windows by Heinegke & Smith of New York City.

Disclaimer: This information on the details of the history of Skylands Manor was taken directly from their pamphlet and I give them full credit for it. Please call the manor for times that it is open as it is used a banquet/catering facility and a B & B.

Ringwood Manor-A New Jersey State Park 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Ringwood Manor-A New Jersey State Park 1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Ringwood Manor-A New Jersey State Park

1304 Sloatsburg Road

Ringwood, NJ  07456

Phone: (973) 962-7031

Fax: (973) 962-2247

http://www.ringwoodmanor.org

Fee: Adults $3.00/Children 6-12 $1.00/Children 5 and under Free

Donation for the holidays: $10.00

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46774-d9564482-Reviews-Ringwood_Manor-Ringwood_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

I have visited the Ringwood Manor during the Christmas holidays over the last four years and it keeps getting better. Each room in the house is tastefully decorated for the holidays. The Great Hall was decorated with garland and ornaments with a large tree in the corner.

The formal dining room was set for Christmas dinner for the family after church. The elegant china was set on the table with poppers and small Christmas gifts for the guests. The side boards were set with the dinner entrees and sides for the family meal. There was a little discussion of how the Hewitt family would entertain during the holidays and in 2019 they opened up the kitchen and Butler’s pantry for touring.

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Each room was set for the holidays with garlands, trees and decorations. As it was explained to me on another house tour during the holidays, the Victorians would normally only decorate one or two rooms for the holidays and not the whole house. The whole house might be decorated based on the wealth of the family and the amount of servants to take care of the home. Needles would have to cleaned up and the trees would have to be attended to on a daily basis.

One of the nicest rooms that was decorated was the screened in porch. Here there was a tree set with presents, hot house flowers and garland lining the room. The sunlight shined throughout the room and the decorations sparkled.

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The screen in porch was beautifully decorated for the holidays (2019)

Each room had a docent to explain the decor or what the room’s use had been in the family’s time. A visitor can roam the house at their leisure and see the rooms as many times as they want. There is also a gift shop in a room off the formal dining room that contains some beautiful Christmas crafts for sale by the Women’s Club of New Milford. Some of these women are very creative and sell the most amazing Christmas ornaments made of glitter, wood, branches, walnuts and moss.

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The house has very lavish decorations for the holidays

The decor of the home changes over time and there are different things to see every year. The barn also on the property as you drive in has more artwork and crafts. In the Gardener’s Shed next to the house, the Society has a small cafe with sandwiches, desserts and coffee/tea/hot chocolate.

The tour of Ringwood Manor is wonderful during the holiday season and the rest of the house opens up during the warmer months of the year.

History of the House:

This 582 acre historic site is open to the public year round. The historic house museum, Ringwood Manor is open Wednesday to Sundays year round.

History of 19th Century Manor House and Landscape:

The present manor house was begun by Martin J. Ryerson in 1807. He and his sons controlled not only the iron mines and forges on the property but also operated productions at four other locations in the area. The Ryerson family resided in their 10 room Federal style home for almost 50 years.

In 1853, the Ryerson’s house and property were purchased by business partners Peter Cooper and his son in law Abram S. Hewitt. The 22,000 acre ironworks and the Ryerson’s home were purchased for a sum of $100,000. Their company, Cooper-Hewitt & Company, grew to be the fifth largest corporation in the United States. The Hewitt’s, one of the most influential and wealthiest families of the 19th century, fell in love with the Ringwood estate.

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The expanded Ringwood Manor

They decided to make this site of their summer home, naming it The Forges and Manor of Ringwood. They enlarged the home of the Ryerson’s, constructing major additions or renovations in 1864, 1875, 1900 and 1910. The completed 51 room house is 226.5 feet long and features 28 bedrooms, 24 fireplaces and 13 bathrooms and more than 250 windows. The house was built in an eclectic style, typical of the Victorian period. In 1875, the Manor House was an excellent example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. By 1900, the Hewitt’s changed the exterior facade to its present appearance, adding the neo-classical portico and columns of the front porch and affixing white stucco to the exterior walls. The furnishings of the house reflect the varying tastes and styles of the family and time period.

The formal gardens surrounding the Manor House were developed by Mrs. Hewitt and her daughter, Eleanor around 1900. Their design was influenced by the Hewitt’s many trips overseas. The gardens possess a mysterious old world charm that captivates visitors as they enjoy the serenity of reflecting pools and the progression of blooms from early spring to late fall. Placed throughout the garden are French and Italian statuary and garden ornaments as well many interesting architectural items from New York City acquired while Abram Hewitt served as Mayor and Congressman. Examples of these features include columns from the old New York Life building, gates from the Astor family’s home and gate posts from Columbia College. Relics from the iron company that are found on the grounds include a trip hammer and anvil, cog wheel and a Dictator-class mortar the base of which was created by the Hewitt’s company and used at the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi during the Civil War.

History of Ringwood, NJ:

Colonial Ringwood:

Long before the Forges & Manor of Ringwood existed this property was occupied by the Native American people. Prehistoric artifacts found on the grounds confirm their inhabitants back to the Archaic and Woodlands periods. Living in a hunting and farming paradise, these Munsee-speaking Lenape peoples dwelled at the head of the Topompock or Ringwood River Valley. This paradise attracted colonial prospectors, who by 1740, came for the iron ore found in the ground. Recognizing the rich magnetite ores, Cornelius Board settled here in 1739 and first utilized the property for iron mining. He was followed shortly thereafter by the Ogden family who established the Ringwood Company and built the first blast furnace here in 1742.

After twenty years of production, a German promoter, Peter Hasenclever, organized the American Iron Company to exploit the resources in colonial North America, purchasing the Ringwood area in 1764. He would also develop forges at Long Pond and Charlotteburg but made Ringwood the center of his iron empire. Hasenclever established iron plantations and developed the production of flax and timber across 50,00 acres of land stretching through New Jersey and New York, from present day Butler to New Foundland and Nova Scotia. The iron was said to have been “the best iron in the American colonies.” Robert Erskine, the last ironmaster of the American Iron Company, was sent from England in 1771 and would manage the company during the Revolutionary War.

(History of Ringwood, NJ)

Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street   Bronx, NY 10471

Van Cortlandt House Museum in Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street Bronx, NY 10471

Van Cortlandt House Museum

Van Cortlandt Park at Broadway & West 246 Street

Bronx, NY  10471

(718) 543-3344

infor@vchm.org

Open: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 11:00am-4:00pm

Admission: $5.00 for Adults/$3.00 for Seniors & Students/Children under 12 are free/General Admission is free on Wednesdays. Guided and group tours are available.

Review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47369-d103501-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_House-Bronx_New_York.html?m=19905

 

I visited the Van Cortlandt House Museum for the their Annual Christmas Decorated House event. The mansion was decorated for Christmas in the 1700’s so it was not overdone as it would during the Victorian times. The front of the house entrance was done with sprays of holly, mistletoe above the door and garlands of pine around the banister and fireplaces. The windows had candles in them and the dining room was set for Christmas luncheon in post-Revolutionary War era.

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Van Cortlandt House for Christmas is Post-Revolutionary War

While most of the house is represented during the Dutch era with floors with no rugs, vintage furniture and decorations and the second and third floors are set for family entertainment. The first floor is set for entertaining for the holidays with the formal dining room, family palour and the formal living room for games and dancing. The formal dining room was the only room decorated post-Revolutionary War era.

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Van Cortlandt Mansion at Christmas 1800’s

Until the Victorian era, Christmas was a more religious affair with church service in the morning and luncheon in the afternoon. Things were formal and less elaborate. The acts of gift giving, sleigh rides, tree decorating and card giving came during the affluence of Queen Victoria’s reign in the post Civil-War era. This is the reason why the house is decorated so simply and elegantly.

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Van Cortlandt House elegant and understated at Christmas

In 2019, the site celebrated the holidays with a Sinterklaas, a Dutch Christmas celebration, a candlelight tour and a reading from Santa Claus. Please check their website for more information on future events.

History of the Van Cortlandt’s:

The Van Cortlandt House Museum, also known as Fredrick Van Cortlandt House or Van Cortlandt House, is the oldest surviving building in New York City’s borough of The Bronx. The Georgian style house, begun in 1748, was build of fieldstone by Fredrick Van Cortlandt (1699-1749) on the plantation that had been owned and farmed by his family since 1691. Fredrick intended the house to be a home for him and his wife, Francis Jay and daughters, Anna Maria, 14 and Eve, 13. His sons, Augustus, 21 and Fredrick, 19, were not intended to be permanent residents of the house. Sadly, Fredrick died before the new house was completed. In his will written in 1759, Fredrick left the house to his son, James Van Cortlandt (1726-1781) and a life time tenancy to his widow, Francis Jay Van Cortlandt (1701-1780).

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The Van Cortlandt House gardens in the Summer

The Van Cortlandt’s were a mercantile family prominent in New York affairs. Fredrick’s father, Jacobus, established a thriving wheat growing and processing business on the plantation including a grist mill for processing the wheat into flour and a fleet of shallow draft boats to carry the flour from the south end his lake down Tibbet’s Brook and out to the Harlem and Hudson Rivers to market. During the Revolutionary War, the house was used by Rochambeau, Lafayette and Washington.

(From History of Van Cortlandt House and Museum)

In 1887, after 140 years of occupancy by the Van Cortlandt family and the community of plantation workers, the property was sold to the City of New York and made a public parkland. Before the house became a museum, it saw a variety of uses including as a temporary police precinct house and as a dormitory for ranch hands responsible for taking care of a herd of buffalo.

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Van Cortlandt House East Bedroom

By 1895, The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York expressed their interest in restoring the house as a museum open to the public. There was only one obstacle keeping the Colonial Dames from this important project, there was no provision in the New York State Law allowing the stewardship of a publicly owned building by a private organization. Undaunted, the first Society President, Mrs. Townsend, took the Society’s cause to Albany where on May 22, 1896 in the 199th session of the New York Legislature, Chapter 837 was approved by the governor and passed by a 3/5 majority to become law.

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The Van Cortlandt House guest bedroom

After nearly a year if repairs and restoration, Van Cortlandt House Museum was opened to great fanfare on May 25th of 1897. The original license agreement grained custody of the house to the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York for a period of 25 years at a ‘peppercorn’ rent of $1.00 per year. Although the Society no longer pays the city rent, they remain, to this day as dedicated to Van Cortlandt House as they were in 1896.

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Van Cortlandt Park in the Summer Months

In 1967, Van Cortlandt House was added to the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1967. The house was declared a New York City Landmark on March 15, 1966, recognizing the historic and architectural importance of both the exterior and interior.

(From the Van Cortlandt House Museum NSCDNY)

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Van Cortlandt House Museum at Christmas