Tag: Exploring the Hudson River Valley at Christmas

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside                     3 West Sunnyside Lane   Irvington, NY 10533

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside 3 West Sunnyside Lane Irvington, NY 10533

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

3 West Sunnyside Lane

Irvington, NY  10533

(914) 591-8763

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48720-d3680157-Reviews-Sunnyside-Tarrytown_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside is open during the warmer months of the year, closing at the end of October. The house looks like a enchanted cottage with almost a fairy like appearance right on the banks of the Hudson River with the most spectacular views of the river valley and the Tappan Zee Bridge in the distance.

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Sunnyside at the end of the summer

The house was designed by architect George Harvey and reflects the Dutch Colonial Revival, Scottish Gothic and Tudor Revival influences with wisteria growing up and around it and a jagged crow stepped gable.

When walking through the home, you will see the study where Washington Irving conducted the business of the house and did his writing. To the other side of the house, you will see the living room and small dining room where the family used to entertain. The upstairs contains small bedrooms where Washington Irving, his brother, Ebeneezer and his five nieces lived on and off when they were living at the house. Washington’s brother’s business had failed and the family came to live with him. Two of the nieces never married and ran the home for their uncle.

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The bedroom at Sunnyside

The house is nicely furnished in the most modern decor of its time but is not an elaborate house. It is a home and not a weekend mansion and this ten acre estate was a once a  working farm. In the back of the house, there is an ice house and a barn show where the people who worked on the estate kept the house running.

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The study of Washington Irving

The view of the river is one of the most spectacular in the Hudson River Valley as its at the widest part of the Hudson River. You can see the cliffs of New Jersey on the other side with views of Nyack and the Tappan Zee Bridge in the background.

During the Fall season there are all sorts of activities going on at the estate and the tours are a very interesting look at life at that time.

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The Sunnyside Kitchen

The History of Sunnyside:

The estate was once the home of Wolfert Acker called Wolfert’s Roost and was part of the Manor of Philipsburg and this home was once a simple two room stone tenant farmhouse built around 1690.

The property came into the hands of the Van Tassel family, who were married into the Eckert family and owned it until 1802. That year, 150 acres were deeded to the family of Benson Ferris, one time clerk of the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, whose wife, Maria Acker, was a descendant of Wolfert Acker’s.

In 1832, Washington Irving visited his nephew, Oscar Irving, who lived near the old stone farmhouse and was looking for a home at the time. He purchased the property on June 7, 1835 and would add to the property.

Irving wrote a story, “Wolfert’s Roost”, about Acker and the site. In a letter to his brother Peter, he described it as “a beautiful spot, capable of being made a little paradise…I have had an architect up there and shall build upon the old mansion this summer. My idea is to make a little nookery somewhat in the Dutch style, quaint but unpretending. It will be of stone.” He asked his neighbor to help him remodel the house and landscape the grounds in Romantic style adding a brook and waterfall.

The house became a major spot of people visiting the area to meet the author. In 1842, he was appointed to be the Ambassador of Spain and left the estate in the care of his brother and four daughters. He returned in 1846 and added to the home the ‘Spanish Tower” in 1847. This added four more bedrooms to the home.

Irving died in the house in 1859 of a heart attack at age 76.

The house was purchased from Lousi Irving by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and was restored for historic preservation. It was opened to the public in 1947.

 

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Springwood)-National Historic Site  4097 Albany Post Road   Hyde Park, NY 12538

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Springwood)-National Historic Site 4097 Albany Post Road Hyde Park, NY 12538

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Springwood)-National Historic Site

4097 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, NY  12538

(845) 229-9115

http://www.nps.gov/hofr

https://www.nps.gov/hofr/index.htm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60801-d106611-Reviews-Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt_Home-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

I have visited the childhood home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt many times over the years. It is an interesting part of not just Hudson River Valley history but of American history.

Parts of the house were built in the late 1700’s and added on later by the families who lived in the house. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s father bought the house and continued to add on to it. Most of the estate is still intact as well as the homes that the President built separate from the main house to give he and his wife some privacy from his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, who owned the home until her death.

Visiting Springwood is like a step back in time. Unlike the grand mansions of the Mill’s and Vanderbilt’s up and down Route 9, Springwood looks more like a home just on a larger scale. The self-guided tour takes you through the first story of the house which includes the dining room, living room, sitting rooms and offices of the President and of his mother, who ran the staff and the household.

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The inside of Springwood

The house is done in dark woods, representing a time before the Victorian age when the Federalist look was in and the later additions represent the trends in Victorian style. The furnishings were functional and very homey not like the elaborate ‘over the top’ furnishes in some of the other mansions. The Roosevelt’s were old money Hudson River Valley compared to the Vanderbilt’s who money was earned after the Civil War and did not have to prove themselves to Upper Crust Society.

I was impressed with the amount of sporting goods, stuffed animal species and just the general hominess of the house. It looked like someone still lived there. The downstairs area for the servants and the kitchen are functional and not huge. This is a house that was built for a family and for entertainment but not on the scale of the Astor’s or Vanderbilt’s. It ran for a growing family that lived in the house.

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The inside of Springwood

Even the upstairs bedrooms looked like any other American home at the time but a touch bigger. I could see by Eleanor’s room that she did not spend much time there. You can see where the adjustments were made when the President developed polio. I am glad that the man showed determination and did not let that stop him in his life. It proved to me that a disability limits you only if you let it.

The grounds were interesting. The formal rose gardens are beautiful when in season and the estate does have views of the river. On the grounds of the estate as well is the Presidential Library, Museum and the grave sites of the President and his wife, Eleanor.

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The Springwood Estate

The only problem we faced on our recent visit to the house was that a sweltering heat wave hit the Valley and the humidity hit 98 degrees. The house was boiling hot because they could not open the windows for fresh air and the whole house smelled musty and old. That is the bad part of all that wood trimming and paneling, it does smell when it is hot.

At the holidays when I visited in 2019, the house was going to be closed in April of 2020 for a full restoration and renovation of the lights, interior alarms and plumbing for about a year so the only Christmas decorations in the house was a tree in the library (the books had started to be removed from the shelves) and the formal dining room had been set for dinner.

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The Christmas Tree in the library

Still the ranger talked about the history of the house and the role it played not just with the government influence during WWII but at the holidays and how Sara Delano Roosevelt had influence on her family.

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The Dining Room set for dinner

Still it was an interesting tour that takes about 45 minutes and is an important part of the foundation of a very important family.

History of FDR at Springwood:

Franklin’s father, James Roosevelt purchased the 110 acre estate in 1867 for $40,000. The property included a house overlooking the Hudson River and a working farm. FDR was born in the house on January 30, 1882, the only child of Sara and James Roosevelt. Growing up with a view of the majestic Hudson River, he developed a love of the river and the valley through which it flowed. By age eight, he was sailing the Hudson. As a young adult, racing his ice yacht “Hawk” was a favorite winter pastime.

Franklin accompanied his father on daily horseback rides. During these times, he became immersed in the land, its history and particularly the trees. In later years, he expanded his parents’ land holding to nearly 1,500 acres and planted over half a million trees. His interest in tree farming translated into a New Deal program, the Civilian Conservative Corps (CCC). The CCC provided jobs to unemployed men age 17-28. Over 10 years, enrollees planted over three billion trees and built over 800 parks nationwide.

Surrounded by the rich agricultural heritage of the Hudson Valley all his life, FDR felt a strong affinity with farmers. One of the first New Deal programs instituted during the Great Depression, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, was designed to help farmers retain their land. His subsistence homestead projects relocated poverty-stricken families into government subsidized rural communities that provided decent housing, cooperative work and farming and schools.

When Franklin Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, they resided in both at Hyde Park and their New York townhouse. Franklin and Eleanor had six children, one who died in infancy. FDR supervised the expansion and redesign of the house to accommodate his growing family and his political ambitions, ensuring it reflected the Dutch Colonial architecture of the Hudson Valley.

FDR contracted polio in 1921 and was paralyzed from the waist down. He held out hope for a cure but was never able to walk again unaided. The multi-level home was adapted to his needs with ramps along the short steps. The trunk lift, installed years before the onset of FDR’s polio became his transportation to the second floor.

In 1932, FDR was elected to the first of an unprecedented four terms as President of the United States. His presidency redefined the role of government in America, establishing programs designed to improve the lives of all Americans. These programs included Social Security, the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation, the Securities & Exchange Commission, the establishment of minimum wage and unemployment insurance.

During his 12 years as President, FDR led the nation through an economic crisis of enormous proportions and the Second World War. He continually returned to this home  he loved, seeking strength and relaxation. He entertained foreign dignitaries here including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the small study, FDR and Churchill initiated a document known as the “Hyde Park Aide Memoire”, that outlined possible future uses of the atomic bomb.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, FDR died from a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, GA. He was laid to rest on April 15th in the rose garden here. One year after his death on April 12, 1946, the home was opened to the public. At the dedication, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think Franklin realized that people would understand the rest and peace and strength which he gained here and perhaps go away with some sense of healing and courage themselves.”

(Home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site pamphlet)

History of the Springwood:

The estate was part of the 1697 agreement of the English Crown that gave 220 square miles to a group of nine businessmen from New York City. To ensure that everyone had access to the river, the land was divided into “Water Lots”, one of which was deeded to William  Creed, one of the nine partners.

The central part of Springwood is believed to have been formed from a large farmhouse which was constructed around the year 1800 in the Federal style. In 1845, the estate was purchased by Josiah Wheeler, a merchant from New York City. Wheeler undertook a remodeling of the house, giving it a then fashionable Italianate style with a three story town at the south end as well as front and rear piazzas spanning the entire length of the house.

In 1866, the estate which has been reduced to one square mile, James Roosevelt bought the house and expanded the main house adding the servants wing, two more rooms and the carriage house. James Roosevelt passed away in 1900.

In 1915, FDR and his mother, Sara made the final additions and renovations to the house for the growing family and for entertaining political and family friends. Sara Roosevelt used the New York firm of Hoppin & Koen and doubled the size of the house by adding two large fieldstone wings (designed by FDR), a tower and a third story with a flat roof. The clapboard exterior of the house was replaced by stucco and most of the porch was replaced with a fieldstone terrace  with a balustrade and a small columned portico around the entrance. The inside layout of the house was redesigned also to accommodate FDR’s growing collections of books, paintings, stamps and coins.

The grounds were also changed with the planting of almost 400,000 trees all over the estate in a thirty year period. Today large portions  of the estate have been turned over to the Forestry Department of Syracuse University.

(Wiki)

Disclaimer: The history of the Springwood and of FDR are living there was taken from Wiki writings and the pamphlet of The Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Site and I give their writers full credit for the information. Please see the attachments from the National Park site for more information.

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site-Lindenwald-Martin Van Buren Home   1013  Old Post Road                     Kinderhook, NY 12106

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site-Lindenwald-Martin Van Buren Home 1013 Old Post Road Kinderhook, NY 12106

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site-Lindernwald-Martin Van Buren Home

1013 Old Post Road

Kinderhook, NY  12106

(518) 758-9689 x2040

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-4:30pm

Admission: See website

https://www.nps.gov/mava/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/mava/planyourvisit/index.htm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60899-d105846-Reviews-Martin_Van_Buren_National_Historic_Site-Kinderhook_New_York.html?m=19905

During the beginning of the Halloween season, I decided to explore the Hudson River Valley mansions while the foliage was out. I had never been as high up as Kinderhook, NY before and I wanted to visit the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. This was the estate Lindenwald-Martin Van Buren home.

Martin Van Buren

President Martin Van Buren

The tour is really informative and discusses our eighth President’s life in Upstate New York. I had not released that he was not born a wealthy man. He was a barkeepers son to Abraham Van Buren and his wife, Maria Hoes. His mother had been married before so he had three half siblings and four other siblings growing up.

He had worked his way through Law School and joined the local political scene of Upstate New York. From the what the tour guide told us, he was a self-made man. He had won the first election but not reelection. His further attempts at Presidency were not successful so after his time in Washington DC, he retired to his home in Kinderhook, NY and remained here until he died in 1862.

When we took the tour, the tour guide said that the house had many other owners after the President’s death and that was the reason why there was not much left in the house. There is period furniture from the time he lived here but not from the President himself. There are a few pieces from the family that were donated later. They even replaced the wallpaper in the dining room that was from the original French company that manufactured it (it seems that they have records going back almost 400 years). The grounds are beautiful with the golden and orange leaves on the trees and what is left of the crops in the back fields. There is also the graves of Peter Van Ness and his wife, the original owners of the house.

Lindenwald Estate

Lindenwald’s Dining Room

The house is not far from downtown Kinderhook so take time to visit the town and the historic sites of the President. There is a lot to see.

History of the Martin Van Buren Home & of President Van Buren:

Kinderhook is most noteworthy for its native son. Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States. Van Buren was born here in 1782 and began his road to the White House as a teenager campaigning for Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Van Buren held many positions in New York State government before becoming a United States senator. in 1821. He was elected President of the United States in 1837 after serving as Secretary of State (1829) and vice-president (1833-1837) in Andrew Jackson’s administration. Van Buren was one of only two men to serve as Vice-President, Secretary of State and President. The other was Thomas Jefferson. Van Buren was the first President to be born as an American citizen. Previous Presidents were born prior to the American Revolution. President Van Buren was an accomplished politician but his Presidency was characterized by the economic hardship of the time-the Panic of 1837.

This banking crisis occurred only five weeks into Van Buren’s Presidency and tarnished his administration. Van Buren ran for reelection in 1844 and seemed to have a advantage for the nomination. However, his opposition to the annexation of Texas contributed to his defeat at the Democratic convention. The nomination eventually went to James Polk. As the question of extending slavery into the territory captured in the Mexican War became heightened, Van Buren broke with his party and ran for the Presidency as a candidate of the Free Soil Party in 1848. Following the campaign of 1848, Van Buren returned to his farm, Lindenwald, where he remained until his death in 1862 from bronchial asthma and heart failure at age seventy-nine.

(Lindenwald-Van Buren Home pamphlet)

Lindenwald House:

The house was built in 1797. The knocker on the old front door of this famous mansion bears the date 1797. This however refers to the building of the small and much less imposing building, which was the beginning of this Mansion and was erected by Peter Van Ness. There was still an earlier house on the place when Peter Van Ness bought it about 1780. The house of 1797 was greatly improved by Judge Van Ness, a son and still more improved and enlarged by Mr. Van Buren on his return from Washington when he named it ‘Lindenwald’.

Many of the most distinguished men of the period of the Van Ness and Van Buren families entertained here, among whom were Henry Clay, Washington Irving and Samuel Tilden.

Lindenwald is situated about two miles south of Kinderhook on the Old Post Road from New York City to Albany and sits about 400 to 500 feet back from the road, surrounded by old fir and pine trees. Two separate drive ways lead up to the house.

The house is brick, painted yellow and seven windows wide. The main building had two stories and a large garret. Three chimneys rise above this main or front part of the house, two to the north and a wide one to the south. The middle of the front is pedimented and there is a dormer on each side of the gable, which in the bedroom story below has a large triple central window with a curved pedimental top and two windows on each side. The two windows on the south side are in the room where Van Buren died.

Kinderhook

Lindenwald Estate

Before the center of the main story is a small covered portico with an easy flight of steps and balusters. To the left is the living room or double parlor to the right the sitting room and dining room.

The oblong house is four windows deep on the north side. A colonnade or arched porch separates it from a domestic building, mainly kitchen and laundry. This undoubtedly was the Peter Van Ness original home. The library was added in the rear of the south side by Mr. Van Buren and next to this he built a tower, like a donjan keep with an Italian summit, the openings few and slitted; the object, stateliness and the view.

Beyond the front door is a fine straight hall. The four doors opening off of it are of early carpentry. At the rear, nearly concealed in the side of the hall under sort of an alcove is the stairway, wide and low and long stepped.

Lindenwald Estate III

The palour at Lindenwald

The main feature of the hall, is the foreign wallpaper in large landscapes, representing hunters on horseback and with guns and dogs breaking into Rhenish vales, where milkmaids are surprised and invite flirtation, the human figures are nearly a foot high, the mountains and woods, rocks and streams, panoramic the colors dark and loud.

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The Living Room at Lindenwald

After the death of President Van Buren the house was sold several times.

(Lindenwald-Wiki)

 

 

Welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through unique small museums, cultural sites and parks & gardens in NYC and beyond.

Welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through unique small museums, cultural sites and parks & gardens in NYC and beyond.

My name is Justin Watrel and welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through cultural sites, small unique museums,  historic mansions and homes and pocket parks & community gardens in New York City and beyond its borders. I created this blog site to cross reference all the cultural sites that I came across when I was traveling through Manhattan  for my walking blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”.

Bergen County Historical Society III

Historic New Bridge Landing

I was inspired by all these sites that I had missed over the years and never knew existed in New York City and its suburbs.  Many of these being in Bergen County, NJ where I live. I found that most people feel the same way. The only way you would know that these sites existed is by walking past them.

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School House Museum in Ridgewood, New Jersey

So I created this site to showcase all these smaller, largely unexplored ‘gems’ in Manhattan, the rest of New York City and places outside the greater New York City area. I concentrate on smaller, more off beat cultural sites that you might miss in the tour books or may just find by passing them on the street. This has lead me to  becoming a member of the Bergen County Historical Society in Riveredge, NJ as well as other cultural sites in the area.

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The Aviation Museum in Teterboro, New Jersey

There is so many interesting historical sites, parks, gardens and homes to explore that I want to share it with all of you. They are tucked behind buildings and walls, locked behind gates or hidden behind trees only for you to want to discover them.

Ringwood Manor Christmas 2019

Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey at Christmas

I want to give these smaller and unique ‘gems’ more exposure and ‘sing their praises’  to an audience (namely out of town tourists) who might overlook them. It is hard for a lot of these cultural site because of the lack of volunteers or volunteers getting older or the absence of money to properly advertise these sites.

Gallery Bergen Professor Show III

Juan Leon’s work at Gallery Bergen on the Bergen Community College campus in Paramus, NJ

So join me in the extension of “MywalkinManhattan.com” with my new site “VisitingaMuseum.com” and share the adventure with me. Join me also on my sister blog sites, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com” and ‘LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com’ for restaurants and small shops.

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The Dyckman Farm in Washington Heights in Manhattan

These sites featuring all sorts of small restaurants, bodegas and bakeries, where a quality meal can be had for $10.00 and under and unusual stores with unique merchandise that just stand out in their respective neighborhoods. It is important to support small business owners especially in this economy.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant in Margate, NJ

So join me here as I take “MywalkinManhattan” to some unique and special historical sites and open spaces the New York Metropolitan area and beyond.