Tag: ny historic sites

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum  4079 Albany Post Road New York, NY 12538

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum 4079 Albany Post Road New York, NY 12538

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

4079 Albany Post Road

New York, NY  12538

(800) FDR-VISIT

Open: Sunday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm/Open to 6:00pm April-October

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day

https://fdrlibrary.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60801-d105844-Reviews-Franklin_D_Roosevelt_Presidential_Library_and_Museum-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

Admission: $20.00 for both the museum and house.

I have visited the FDR Library over the summer  for two separate days along with visiting the Vanderbilt Mansion after the tour. It takes about two days to really look through the museum as there is so much to see and read that it can be over-whelming. If you don’t know much about Franklin Roosevelt you will definitely learn it here.

You will learn more about the family at the house tour but here you will learn of the policies of the Presidency, the acts and laws that he put in place and their effect on the county. It outlines why the policy was put in place and the effects on the American people. It was interesting to see how the policies like Social Secretary, Welfare and the Banking regulations are still in affect today.

Each room is another discussion in policy with things leading to the war and it effects on bring us out of the Great Depression. Also the attributes leading to the treaties after the war was finished.

My recommendation it to take two days and at least an hour and a half each day to visit the museum and break it down into rooms as it can be a lot to take in on one visit. Couple the trip up with a visit to his house, Springwood and learn how the house played a big part in his politics.

About the Museum:

For information about the Museum, Archives, Education and Public Programs and the Henry A. Wallace Center call (800) FDR-VISIT or go to http://www.fdrlibrary.org.

Membership:  Membership forms a vital base of support for many of the Library’s key initiatives. To learn about the benefits of a membership and to become a FDR Presidential Library and Museum member today, please visit http://www.fdrlibrary.org or call (845) 486-1970.

The Roosevelt Institute:

The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute is dedicated to informing new generations of the ideas and achievements of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt through programs, events and publications. With offices in Hyde Park, New York and New York City, the Institute enjoys a special relationship with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. It also works  across the country to nurture leaders in public service inspired by the models of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, through a network of 100 progressive college campus-based think thank organizations that include more than 10,000 student members. In the years ahead, the Institute plans to play an even stronger role in nurturing and advancing progressive people and ideas. It will also continue its unique and important relationship with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

The Museum:

As he planned his presidential library, FDR took care to include space for a museum to display his many personal treasures. An avid collector, the President has spent a lifetime gathering extensive collections ranging from stamps and coins to rare books and ship models.

When the FDR Museum opened June 30, 1941, it featured elaborate displays of these collections and the many gifts the Roosevelt’s had received from governments and individuals.

Today, the Museum continues to display items from the President’s personal collections. But there are also extensive state of the art exhibits where visitors can experience the lives and times of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

After a privileged childhood on the banks of the Hudson River, FDR entered politics only to endure illness and a lifetime of paralysis after a heroic battle with polio. As President, he led America out of the greatest economic depression in its history and guided the Allied Powers to victory in World War II.

Eleanor Roosevelt improved the lives of millions as a reformer, teacher, journalist, political activist, First Lady, advocate for the underprivileged and as delegate to the United Nations, champion for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today the woman known as the “First Lady of the World” continues to inspire new generations.

Experience the powerful story of these two extraordinary individuals in the Museum’s permanent exhibits. Rare documents and fascinating artifacts bring you face to face with history. Immersive audiovisual programs and interactive displays take visitors vividly into the past. A special “Behind the Scenes” area gives a look inside museum and archives storage rooms to see even more of the Library’s collection. And the Museum’s special exhibitions gallery offers changing exhibits on a regular basis. Repeat visitors will always find something new to see.

Archives and Research:

FDR was the first president to give his papers to the American people and they form the core of the Library’s research archives. Since that original gift, the Library has acquired additional important collections related to the Roosevelt era, including the three million page archive of Eleanor Roosevelt. Today the Roosevelt Library houses 17 million pages of manuscript materials in some  400 distinct collections; 51,000 books including FDR’s own personal collection of over 22,000 volumes and 150,000 photographs, negatives and audiovisual items. The Library conducts one of the busiest research operations in the entire Presidential Library system and is used by several thousand on-site and remote researchers each year.

Education and Public Programs:

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum conducts educational programs designed for K-12, college and university students, teachers and adult learners based on the Library’s documentary, audiovisual and museum collections. Programs include on and off site classroom workshops, museum programs and teacher development seminars.

Public programs include the annual reenactment of a World War II “USO Show and Bivouac” over Memorial Day Weekend, the Roosevelt Reading Festival in June and a Children’s Book Festival in December. The Library’s website http://www.fdrlibrary.org has over one million visitors each year including researchers using the digital archive, teachers and students exploring educational resources and those visiting FDR’s interactive daily calendar through our affiliated Pare Lorentz Center http://www.parelorentzcenter.org.

Diclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum pamphlet and I give their writers full credit on the information. Please check out their website on Admissions as they do change.

 

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

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

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Springfield)-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.

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.

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.

springwood estate

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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

(Lindenwald-Wiki)

 

 

Visiting Stone Street in Lower Manhattan

Visiting Stone Street in Lower Manhattan

Visiting Stone Street in Lower Manhattan:

As part of my tour of Historic Bars and Pubs on Day One Hundred and Thirteen with the Cornell Club on May 9th, 2018, we toured the famous ‘Stone Street’ one of the original paved streets of Manhattan. You will not find architecture or pavings like this left in New York City. Here and there are streets or buildings that represent these times during the early to mid-1800’s but they are few and scattered in remote spots all over the island. Here the street still represents a different era of Manhattan.

The stores in the 90’s had been either boarded up or were used but in horrible shape. During the business hours not too many people inhabited this area of Lower Manhattan and it was ignored. The neighboring South Street Seaport was being transformed in the mid 80’s into a type of historic theme park and entertainment center by the Rouse Corporation. It put these old neighborhoods back into vogue and people started to return again.

Over time, especially after 9/11 and the changes in downtown Manhattan, the street is now home to many trendy bars and restaurants and a hang out for the downtown business crowd. During the recent walking tour, the place was hopping with people spilling out of restaurants, ordering drinks during happy hour and eating pizza at the local pizzeria.

During ‘Happy Hour’ after work, the place is mobbed with people milling around having a good time. The tables toward the end of the street are filled with tourists taking pictures and at one end of the street is the famous “India House” and at the other is the Frances Tavern where George Washington gave his troops his farewell address.

stone street

Stone Street in the warmer months

It is not only a historical neighborhood but loaded with things to see and do. The buildings which were once in horrible shape have been brought back to life and repositioned to use for the meals and entertainment. It is interesting to see how a neighborhood comes back in full circle in a 150 years.

History of the area:

Stone Street is a short street in Manhattan’s Financial District. It originally ran from Broad Street to Hanover Square but was divided into two sections by the construction of the Goldman Sachs building at 85 Broad Street in the 1980’s. Today the cluster of historic buildings along Stone, South William, Pearl Streets and Coenties Alley form the Stone Street Historic District.

Stone Street is one of New York’s oldest streets. It was originally known by its Dutch name, Hoogh Staet (High Street). In 1632, the Dutch West India Company built the first commercial brewery in North America there. Around 1656, Hoogh Straet was shifted about twenty to twenty-five feet to align it with Brouwer Street, the extension of Hoogh Straet west of the Gracht and which in 1658 became the first paved street in Nieuw Amsterdam. Following the British conquest of the colony, the name Hoogh Straet was translated to High Street. It was then called Duke Street for the Duke of York during most of the 18th century. Leveled in 1771 and 1790, it was renamed Stone Street in 1794 because of it’s cobblestone paving as New Yorkers abandoned reminders of British Rule. The street’s stores and loft were built for dry-goods merchants and importers, shortly after the Great Fire of 1825, which destroyed many remnants of New Amsterdam.

Most buildings were used as storage. The building at 57 Stone Street was rebuilt in 1903 by C.P.H, Gilbert in Dutch Colonial Revivial architecture at the behest of the owner, Amos F. Eno as son of Amos R. Eno. The buildings to the back on South William 13-23 also were reconstructed in the Dutch revival style, evoking New Amsterdam.

Following many decades of neglect, a joint partnership between the Landmarks Preservation Commission and other city agencies, the Alliance for Downtown New York and Stone Street owners has transformed Stone Street from a derelict back alley into one of Downtown’s liveliest scenes. Restored buildings, granite paving, bluestone sidewalks and period lights set the stage for the half dozen restaurants and cafes, whose outdoor tables are very popular on warm summer nights.

The eastern portion of the street and the surrounding buildings have been protected since 1996 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission as the Stone Street Historic District and is pedestrian only. The historic district is now populated by several restaurants and bars and has a outdoor dining when the weather permits. The India House historic landmark is located at the Hanover Square end of the street.

(This information was taken directly from Wikipedia and I give them full credit)

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.

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.

van cortlandt mansion xmas ii

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.

History of the Van Cortlandts:

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).

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.

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.

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.

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)

van cortland mansion xmas

Van Cortlandt House Museum at Christmas

The Vanderbilt Mansion & Estate National Historic Site  4097 Albany Post Road Hyde Park, NY 12538

The Vanderbilt Mansion & Estate National Historic Site 4097 Albany Post Road Hyde Park, NY 12538

The Vanderbilt Mansion & Estate

National Historic Site

4097 Albany Post Road

Hyde Park, NY  12538

(845) 229-7770

http://www.nps.gov/vama

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60801-d105845-Reviews-Vanderbilt_Mansion_National_Historic_Site-Hyde_Park_New_York.html?m=19905

I have visited the Vanderbilt Estate many times over the years and every time I visit I learn something new about the family and about the property. It takes many visits to truly see the beauty of the house and grounds.

I found the best time to visit is in the late Spring as the buds are coming in and Christmas time when the house is decorated for the holidays. It is quite spectacular. The holiday tour is amazing and after Thanksgiving, make a special trip to the Hudson River Valley and go mansion hopping as all the houses are decorated for the holidays.

The Gilded Age, the period following the Civil War to the turn of the century, was a time of unparalleled growth in industry, technology and immigration. Captains of industry, men like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and others who amassed unimaginable wealth, while the average annual income in the US was around $380, well below the poverty line.

The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their 1873 book, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today. The term refers to the process of gilding an object with a superficial layer of gold to improve its appearance. Established millionaires viewed nouveau riche families like the Vanderbilt’s, who flaunted their wealth by building ostentatious  homes, throwing extravagant balls and using their money to buy social prominence, as gilded-all show, no substance.

Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt (1794-1877) rose from poverty to become a shipping and railroad tycoon. He turned a 100 dollar loan from his parents into a multi-million dollar fortune and left the bulk of his money to his eldest son William.

William expanded the railroad operations doubling the Vanderbilt fortune in just eight years but his eight children lived lives of excess, extravagance and self-indulgence. They built 40 opulent mansions and country estates and entertained lavishly, largely depleting the family money.

In 1895, William’s son, Fredrick (1856-1938) and his wife, Louise (1854-1926) bought Hyde Park to use its their spring and fall country estate. McKim, Mead & White, America’s top architecture firm, designated the mansion in the neoclassical style with Beaux-Arts ornamentation and incorporated the latest innovations: electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing. They added the Pavilion, a coach house, power station, gate houses, two new bridges over Crum Elbow Creek, boat docks, a railroad station and extensive landscaping. Many  of the mansion’s contents were bought in Europe from wealthy families who had fallen on hard times. Furnishings and construction coast totaled around $2,250,000.

Hype Park was in many ways self-sustaining, providing food and flowers for the family’s needs here and at their other homes. When the Vanderbilt’s were in residence, as many as 60 staff worked here. Staff lived on or near the property and attended to the grounds and extensive farm. Personal staff traveled with the Vanderbilt’s and lived in the mansion with the family. Seasonal laborers were hired from the community and lived in the servants’ quarters.

Fredrick, a quiet man, preferred to avoid social occasions but Louise loved to entertain, throwing lavish weekend parties with horseback riding, golf , tennis and swimming followed by formal dinners and dancing. When Louise died in 1926, Fredrick sold his other houses and returned to this estate for the last 12 years of his life. He was active in business, directing 22 railroads until his death in 1938. His estate totaled $76 million, over 1.2 billion today.

Gilded Age estates like this flourished in the 1890’s until the income tax (1913), World War I (1914) and Great Depression (1930’s) made their upkeep all but impossible.

The couple had no children and left the Hyde Park mansion to Louise’s niece, Margaret Louise Van Alen, who tried to sell the estate but there were no buyers. Her neighbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, suggested she donate the estate to the National Park Service as a monument to the Gilded Age. She agreed and the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site opened to the public in 1940. The farmlands were not part of the donation and remain in private hands. The lavish mansion and its contents remain virtually unchanged from the time the Vanderbilt’s lived here.

(The National Park Foundation pamphlet)

The Vanderbilt Family History:

1650: Jan Aertsen Van Der Bilt is the first Vanderbilt ancestor known to reside in American.

1794: Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt born on Staten Island, New York City, to Cornelius and Phebe Hand Vanderbilt.

1810: Cornelius borrows $100 from parents and buys first two-masted sailing barge to start a ferry service from Staten Island to Manhattan.

1817: Cornelius captains a steamship for Thomas Gibbons and assists in legal battle against steamship monopolies, opening the way for his own shipping business.

1821: William Henry Vanderbilt, one of 13 children and first son, born Cornelius and first wife Sophia.

1830’s-1840’s: Cornelius expands shipping empire, begins railroad management.

1841: William marries Maria Kissam. They have eight children.

1851: Cornelius’ Accessory Transit Company provides shorter, cheaper transportation from New York to San Francisco. He gains national prominence.

1856: Fredrick, sixth child, is born to William and Maria

1861-65: During the Civil War, Cornelius donates steamship to the Union Navy. Receives Congressional Gold Medal. Acquires and consolidates rail lines in the Northeast and Midwest.

1870’s: Cornelius consolidates two core companies, creating New York Central & Hudson Railroad. William slashes cost, increases efficiency, turning it into one of the most profitable large enterprises in America.

1871: Cornelius opens Grand Central Depot on 42nd Street, New York City, the largest train station in North America

1877: Cornelius dies. William inherits most of his father’s fortune, nearly $100 million, to great displeasure of his siblings.

1878: Fredrick graduates from Sheffield Scientific School (Yale). Marries Louise Anthony.

1885: William dies, leaving an estate of $195 million to his eight children.

1895: Fredrick and Louise purchase the Hyde Park estate.

1899: Grand Central Depot is enlarged and becomes Grand Central Station.

1904-13: The new Grand  Central Terminal (GCT) is built in sections on Depot site.  Design insures trains are not delayed.

1926: Louise dies.

1938: Fredrick dies, leave the Hyde Park estate to niece Margaret Louise Van Alen.

1940: Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site established.

1949: 65 million passengers pass through GCT, equivalent 40% of the American population.

1950: Glory days of rail travel end.

1967: GCT designated New York City landmark, saving it from demolition.

1968: New York Central merges with Pennsylvania Railroad to form Penn Central.

1970: Penn Central files for bankruptcy and is dissolved by the courts.

1994: Metro-North takes over the GCT operation and restores it to 1913 splendor.

(The National Park Foundation pamphlet)

A legacy of landscape design:

The estate’s landscape was first developed by Dr. Samuel Bard, who died here in 1821. In the European picturesque style, he planted exotic plants and probably the ginko tree, one of the continent’s oldest dating back to 1799. Bard’s son, William sold the to his father’s medical partner, Dr. David Hosack, who built the first formal gardens and green houses. After his death, the estate was broken up. Later Walter Langdon Jr. reunited the estate, laid out the formal garden’s and hired Boston architects to design a gardener’s cottage, tool houses and garden walls. These structures, the only ones to pre-date Vanderbilt ownership, still exists. Vanderbilt redesigned the formal gardens and planted hundreds of trees and shrubs. On weekends, Fredrick and Louise liked to walk through the gardens twice a day. Today the landscape, restored to its 1930’s appearance, encompassing five acres of tiered gardens, gravel paths, shady arbors, ornate statues and bubbling fountains.

(The National Park Foundation pamphlet)

Disclaimer: This information comes directly from the National Park Service pamphlet of the Vanderbilt Estate and I give the author full credit on the information. Please refer to the National Park System website for any further information on the site as the hours vary during the different times of the year.

 

The Big Duck 1012 Flanders Road Flanders, New York 11901

The Big Duck 1012 Flanders Road Flanders, New York 11901

The Big Duck

1012 Flanders Road

Flanders, New York  11901

(631)852-3377

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g754554-d3292234-Reviews-The_Big_Duck-Flanders_Long_Island_New_York.html?m=19905

The History of the Big Duck

IN 1931, Riverhead duck farmer, Martin Maurer and his wife, Jeule, decided to construct a giant duck-shaped poultry shop. They hoped to sell the Pekin ducks they raised to passing motorists, who would surely be drawn to the striking form of the ‘big duck’ along Riverhead’s West Main Street. The Maurers envisioned this plan while vacationing in California where they are known to have visited a roadside coffee shop shaped like a giant coffee pot.

Seeking local assistance, the Maurers hired carpenter George Reeve and two eccentric stage show set designers, brothers William and Samuel Collins. A live duck tied with a string to their porch served as a model for the Collins’ design. Reeve studied the carcass of a cooked chicken in order to create a sturdy, bird-accurate, frame work for the building. Construction of The Big Duck had begun.

After The Big Duck’s wooden frame had been pieced together, wire mesh was attached. Cement was applied to the wire mesh with the assistance of Smith and Yeager Builders. The Big Duck was painted a lovely bright white, save the beak, of course, which was given its street-line orange color. The finishing touch was the placement of two Model-T taillights in The Big Duck’s head for eyes that would glow red at night. The Big Duck in its entirety measures 30 feet from beak to peaky tail, 15 feet from folded wing to folded wing and 20 feet from its base to the top of its head. As duck farms in the 1930’s were commonly known as duck ranches, Martin Maurer had his giant duck shop and business trademarked as The Big Duck Ranch.

The Big Duck roosted at The Big Duck Ranch on West Main Street till 1936. The Maurers’ had sold quite a few ducks from their unique shop and decided to relocate, Big Duck and all, to Route 24 in Flanders. The Flanders community welcomed The Big Duck with open arms and have cherished it since.

The Big Duck’s popularity grew and continues to grow steadily. When the land where The Big Duck rested was slated for development in 1987, Big Duck fans from all over joined Suffolk County in an effort to preserve The Big Duck. The Big Duck’s then current owners, Kia and Pouran Eshghi, generously donated The Big Duck to Suffolk County in December of 1987. The Big Duck was relocated to a nearby County Park. In 2007, since the former site had not been developed after all, the Big Duck was returned to the heart of Flanders.

The Big Duck is open to the public as a gift shop and museum. Visitors can browse historic photographs, antique postcards and published articles as well as photos of roadside architecture on display. Unusual duck merchandise or ‘duck-a-billia’ as well as other Long Island  gifts and hardcrafted items are available for sale.

World Famous Duck Architecture

While The Big Duck is a well-known Long Island landmark, it has also lent its name to a specific style of roadside architecture. The architectural term, “duck” was coined by architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown in 1968. Duck buildings are highly sculptural forms which represent products or services available within as opposed to the more common ‘decorated sheds’ which are plain buildings whose functions are revealed by added signage.

Within Suffolk County’s Big Duck as with other architectural ducks, the building itself is the signage, a colossal, three dimensional, representational advertisement. Designed to mesmerize passing motorists and entice them ultimately to a purchase, ducks are fantastical while retaining their purely practical intentions. The Big Duck has become the most famous example of roadside architecture.

Another well-known architect named James Wines has proposed the Duck Design Theory, D.D.T., part of which states: ‘Form follows fantasy not function for architecture that cannot offer fantasy fails man’s need to dream.’

Long Island Duck Farms

How did the Pekin duck get to Long Island? According to legend, in 1870, a Long Island sailor travelled to China and returned with nine of the snowy-white, orange-beaked Pekin ducks. These ducks thrived on Long Island’s splendid waterways when shelter was provided them for the cold winters.

As Pekin duck meat was especially succulent, it marketing potential soon became evident to potential soon became evident to Long Islanders. Duck farms, sometimes known as duck ranches, sprang up all over Suffolk County, producing 60% of the nation’s ducks by 1969. Today that figure has dropped to below 15% due to escalating land values, increased production costs and environmental concerns.

Long Island duckling can still be found as a menu offering at the finest restaurants around the world.

The Big Duck Museum Store features many duck-inspired souvenirs. Find Big Duck t-shirts, caps, magnets, key chains, mugs, note cards, holiday ornaments and children’s items as well as other Duck-a-bilia. Also find many local products: Books on local history, Long Island seaside photography and artwork, hand-crafted items. calendars, post cards and much more.

The Big Duck

1012 Flanders Road

Flanders, New York

(631) 852-3377

Directions:

From Western Long Island:

From the LIE, exit 71 take Route 24 south through the Riverhead traffic circle. Cross Route 105 and continue 1 mile on Route 24 to The Big Duck on the left, right after Huntington Lane.

From the Sunrise Highway, take exit 64N (Riverhead), make a right onto Pleasure Drive, Flanders. At a right onto Pleasure Drive, Flanders. At the end, make a left onto Route 24. The Big Duck is on the right, after the access road to the Flanders Men’s Club.

From Eastern Long Island:

From the Sunrise Highway, take exit 65N, Riverhead and travel 5 miles on Route 24 to The Big Duck on the right after the access to the Flanders men’s Club.

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation Division of Historic Services pamphlet. The Big Duck is very unusual to visit and has bathroom facilities.