Tag: NY Historical Sites

Van Cortlandt Manor                                                                  5 Riverside Avenue                                                           Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10502

Van Cortlandt Manor 5 Riverside Avenue Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY 10502

Van Cortandt Manor

5 Riverside Avenue

Croton-on-the-Hudson, NY  10502

(914) 366-6900

Open: See website for seasonal hours

My review on TripAdvisor (Manor and Pumpkin Blaze):

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47560-d116391-Reviews-Van_Cortlandt_Manor-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

A trip to the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-the-Hudson is an interesting step back into the Colonial history of this country. During the summer, there is an interesting walking tour of the home offered usually from the end of July to Labor Day. Then the house is closed to prepare for the huge ‘Pumpkin Blaze’ during the months of October and November and then the house is shut down until the spring.

The house tour is interesting because it shows the home as a working farm and place of commerce for the family. This was not a weekend home for the family working in the City but crops being grown for shipping, vibrant gardens that supplied the house and a small tavern for travelers along the Albany Post Road as well as a place for shipping goods down the rivers.

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Van Cortlandt Manor

The home is furnished in the most modern furnishings of the time and you can see how the house reflected the needs of the family at that time. It was more of a home than a luxurious place to entertain. The furnishes are practical, very in fashion of the time and nicely decorated.

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The Dining Room

The tour of the kitchens and storage areas show that even in what was the modern era was not such easy living without servants. The estate was somewhat self-contained with animals and provisions being raised on the land and there is even an area where fabric such as flax and cotton where spun and made into clothing.

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The kitchen dining area

The upstairs bedrooms show that the linens were under lock and key even with the servants and that the rooms were well-appointed and comfortable. A lot of the family heirlooms still reside in the house and it gives you a perfect look at what life must have been like when the family lived here.

Don’t miss the gardens as well. Some have been over-grown because of the lack of volunteers but still you can see the beauty of the flowers and trees around the house. The house sits right on the cross between the Croton and Hudson rivers and even though it is now grown in, you can see that the house stood at one of the busiest sections of Upstate commerce.

The Pumpkin Blaze-Hudson Valley Historical Association:

During the months of Halloween, there are thousands of pumpkins that line the walks and beautiful displays to see along the paths of the estate and the river. This event is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Historical Association and is one of their biggest fundraisers. Don’t miss this annual event every fall.

The Blaze is amazing!

The Pumpkin Blaze in 2019:

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Some pictures from the MoMA Pumpkin Museum:

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Their version of “The Scream”:

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The Van Cortlandt Manor ablaze with lights and sounds

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Justin Watrel at the Pumpkin Blaze

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My Aunt and I at the Pumpkin Blaze in 2019

The Pumpkin Blaze in 2022:

Entering the Pumpkin Blaze in 2022

Pumpkins greeting you in all shapes and sizes

The Pumpkin Planetarium at the Pumpkin Blaze

Pumpkin Bee Hive

The “Terror Zee Bridge” at the Pumpkin Blaze

The Pumpkin Carousel

The Pumpkin Fire Services

The Headless Horseman is the theme of many October festivals in the Hudson River Valley

The History of the Van Cortlandt Manor:

By Royal Charter, Van Cortlandt Manor was originally a 86,000 acre tract granted as a patent to Stephanus Van Cortlandt in 1697 by King William III, stretching from the Hudson River on the west to the first boundary line between the Province of New York and the Colony of Connecticut, on the east, twenty English miles in length by ten miles in width in shape nearly a rectangular parallelogram forming, “The Manor of Cortlandt”.

The massive holding was acquired by direct purchase from the Indians, in part by Stephanus van Cortlandt, a native born Dutch gentleman of New York and in part by others whose titles he subsequently bought, this tract together with a small tract on the west side of the Hudson River opposite the promontory of Anthony’s Nose, which he also purchased from the Indians.

The Manor House was built sometime before 1732 but was not any owner’s principal residence until a grandson, Pierre Van Cortlandt, moved there in 1749. At the time the manor house was on a 1000 acre portion of the original tract.

Pierre brought his family to the estate in 1749 and established the manor into it most vibrant days, according to some. During this period, the manor was operating an apple orchard, dairy farm, a bee house, a kiln, a tavern and a carpenter and blacksmith shops. Van Cortlandt Manor was a self-sustaining community while Pierre and his family resided in the estate. At this time, tensions leading to the Revolutionary War were building and the manor would become a place of wartime retreat.

Pierre sided with the colonies and the manor was used to assist the Continental Army, using its resources to make food and supplies. Pierre was involved with military legislature and his son Philip was a soldier for the Continental Army. Eventually Pierre and his family vacated the manor in the thick of war. The manor was ransacked by the British Army and left in poor standing. Philip, becoming a brigadier general by the war’s end, returned and along with his sister, Catherine, brought the manor back to working order.

Van Cortlandt Manor became an essential stop on the route from New York to Albany in the years that followed the war. The mills were once again thriving and provided the community and travelers with food, supplies and lodging. Pierre and his wife did not return until 1803 once the manor was in full working order again. The manor was passed down in the family until it was sold to a non-relative, Otis Taylor in 1945. By this time, the property had lost its luster and was not the flourishing estate it had once been.

In 1953, John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchased the property and began restoring the manor to previous prominence. In 1961, Van Cortlandt Manor became registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Disclaimer: This information on the history of the house was provided by Wiki and I give them full credit on the information.

Places to Eat:

Located in the ShopRite Mall next to the Blaze:

The food at New Happy Garden in the Shoprite Mall is excellent and you can sit down in the restaurant. It is the perfect place for lunch or dinner before or after the Blaze. Their Lo Mein and General Tso’s Chicken are excellent. Please read my reviews on TripAdvisor.

New Happy Garden

440 South River Side Avenue

Croton on the Hudson, NY  10520

(914) 271-7888/8268

https://www.menupix.com/westchester/restaurants/3212099/Dong-Happy-Garden-Menu-Croton-On-Hudson-NY

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm/Monday Closed/Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g47560-d4616434-Reviews-Dong_Happy_Garden-Croton_on_Hudson_New_York.html?m=19905

Fort Delaware                                                      5516 NY Route 97                               Narrowsburg, NY 12764

Fort Delaware 5516 NY Route 97 Narrowsburg, NY 12764

Fort Delaware

5516 NY Route 97

Narrowsburg, NY  12764

(845) 252-6660

https://delawareriver.natgeotourism.com/content/fort-delaware-museum-of-colonial-history-narrowsburg-ny/del1b250d73b4094e445

http://sullivanny.us/Departments/ParksRecreation/FortDelaware

Open: Last Weekend in June until Labor Day Weekend (repairs will be made on the facility after that until next year) Friday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm (last tour at 4:00pm) and Monday (Labor Day) 10:00am-5:00pm

Fee: Adults $7.00/ Seniors (62+) $5.00/ Children 4-12 $4.00/Veterans with ID and Children under 5 with adults Free. Special rates for school groups and group tours

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48227-d3386995-Reviews-Fort_Delaware_Museum-Narrowsburg_Catskill_Region_New_York.html?m=19905

 

Fort Delaware is a recreation of an old fort that used to be located on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. It is a great place to take children who like to learn from ‘hands on history’ and watch Blacksmiths, Candle makers and farmers wives perform chores and show the way of life at a time before the Revolutionary War.

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Fort Delaware

According to one of the actors I was talking to who was the Blacksmith, this type of fort would not be one people would have lived in full time. It was meant more for when the Native Americans would have attacked the settlement, which he said only happened once and for the most part the settlers and the Native Americans got along well.

As you tour the fort, you will see all the things that were done to support the settlement from  raising poultry and cows, candle stick making, the process to weave wool and flax from the raw materials, to weaving and spinning yarn to the process of making clothes and the work of the Blacksmith in making nails, axes and shoeing for horses.

Inside each of the little cabins, it will show the life inside and outside the fort at that time period including living quarters, a small school, workman’s shops and where the members of the fort did their business for trade. You can also walk the outside  decks that overlook the river to see how the gunneries worked and where the munitions were held.

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The cabins inside the Fort

You can see the entire fort in about an hour and for small children, I think they would find it fascinating. For teenagers, unless they like history, I don’t think they would find it that interesting.  Leave yourself about an hour for touring.

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The inside living quarters

 

History of the Museum:

The Fort Delaware Museum is a recreation of the original fort and was built in 1957 by James W. Burbank, the second Sullivan County historian. Burbank was fascinated with the history of the settlement which at the time was called Cushetunk. He was influenced by the Davy Crockett craze at the time in the 50’s and wanted the fort to be a money making venture. He added things like pillories and stocks which were popular at the time. He ran Fort Delaware from 1957 to 1970 when he sold it to the County. The County of Sullivan runs it under the Department of Parks, Recreation and Beautification (History of Fort Delaware-RecordonLine.com)

History of the Fort:

(From the County of Sullivan Parks & Recreation Department)

Much attention is paid to the people who settled the main cities of New York but those who decided to take on the wilderness are often forgotten. At Fort Delaware, the daily life of the wilderness settler is explored through exhibits, crafts, demonstrations and tours. The Fort is a reconstruction of the original frontier settlement of the Cushetunk settlement on the Delaware River, with its stockades and stout log homes, which offered the only protection from hostile Native Americans and later English troops. The Fort consists of a small settlement entirely surrounded by high log walls or stockades. During your visit, you will see the blockhouse (where arms and ammunition were stored), settlers cabins, a spinning, weaving and barn loom area, blacksmith shop, candle-making shed and much more. Period-dressed interpreters demonstrate 18th century life skills, including: cooking, baking bread, animal care, dipping candles and the firing of a 1/2 pound British swivel cannon.

Background of the Fort:

Fort Delaware is a representation of the first white settlement on the Upper Delaware River called Cushetunk. Today’s Fort represents the development of the settlement over a thirty year period. The original settlers were farmers who came primarily from Central Connecticut and were of English descent. They were searching for more land because it had become too crowded in Connecticut to suit colonial farming techniques. A group of Connecticut men formed “The Delaware Company” and became proprietors. In the traditional New England way of land distribution they owned the land and either sold or leased it to farmers moving into this frontier, these proprietors moved their families to the frontier and never sold their land. The Delaware Company purchased land from the Lenape Indians, with the first deed signed in 1754.

The land purchased was a 10 mile long strip along both sides of the Delaware River (situate in modern day New York and Pennsylvania). Procedures for filing land claims were very different in the 18th Century. Also at that time, the States of Pennsylvania and New York were engaged in a boundary dispute , disputes of other colonies really didn’t matter much to those early Connecticut farmers, so they claimed the land for Connecticut! They called their community “Cushetunk”. To those white settlers, it sounded like what the Lenapes were calling the place. KASH-ET-Unk or “a place of red stone hills”.

By 1760, there were thirty cabins, a gristmill and a sawmill. Each spring saw the arrival of more people willing to hack a new life out of the frontier. These people faced hardships they probably never conceived of in Connecticut. Indian attacks, the remote wilderness, rough winters and the possibly that farming this land would not sustain them. They came into the area during the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763). In 1761, a stockade was erected around three homes to serve as protection for the entire settlement against attack. In 1763, the settlement was attacked by a Lenape war party. The lower part of the settlement was destroyed with no known survivors. By the time the war party moved up the settlement, people had gathered into the Fort for protection. The attackers were held off with two casualties among the settlers.

It is this Fort, which is represented today at Fort Delaware even though it was known as “the lower fort” during the 18th Century. Another Fort was situated in the upper part of the settlement. The Fort was never used as a Military post, only for civilian protection. In 1764, a rafting business was introduced into the community and became very successful. It brought cash into the community on a steady basis and Cushetunk experienced a lot of development. In the years between the French and Indian Wars and the American Revolution, the fort was abandoned as the threat of Indian attack decreased and people began building what they called “fair houses”. The period of the American Revolution (1775-1783) was a turbulent time for the people of Cushetunk. Generally, the inhabitants were “Tories” (or those who were loyal to the Crown). However, there were also a handful of patriots or Whigs as well.

As time went on neighbors became hated enemies. Many residents of Cushetunk took up arms for the British and Continental armies. Some fought with local militias. In some instances families were torn, brothers fighting on opposing armies. There were many occurences in the settlement of neighbors (who once depended on each other for survival) fighting, looting and even murdering each other. Some of the Patriots from the settlement fought not far from their homes at the Battle of Minisink on July 21, 1779. After the Revolution, the Patriots returned victorious to reclaim their land and many loyalists left to settle in Canada. Today the descendants of these early settlers can still be in the area.

(This information on the history of Fort Delaware and the settlement was taken from the County of Sullivan Department of Parks and Recreation and I give them full credit on the information. Please see the attached website for more information on the Fort).

 

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

https://www.nationalparks.org/explore-parks/vanderbilt-mansion-national-historic-site

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.

The Vanderbilt Mansion foyer on the first floor decorated for the holidays

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 Christmas tree in the library of the Vanderbilt Mansion

The tour will take you to three floors of the house: the first floor with the living room, dining room, parlors, and studies. Then there is the second floor with Fredrick, Louise and the guest family and single women rooms. The last floor you will visit is the basement workrooms, servant quarters and kitchen.

On the first floor is the formal dining room and the library, the offices of both Fredrick and Louise for their social and business obligations and the formal receiving foyer of the home. Things were decorated for the Christmas holiday season and it gave a very festive appearance.

The Library was set up for the Christmas holidays

The other side of the Library for the Christmas holidays

The house was only used about four months out of the year, being used in the Spring and then again in the Fall from the end of September to right after Thanksgiving and then the family would go to New York City for the social season. After Louise’s death, Fredrick sold his other houses and moved here permanently. The house was used full time and Fredrick must have enjoyed his time here.

When she was alive, they used to have a very active social life and were active in local affairs. The formal dining room was used for parties and get togethers. For the holiday season, the room was decorated for a formal Christmas dinner.

The Dining Room set for holiday dinner

The beautiful fireplaces and paneling of the Dining Room

The Dining Room table set for the Christmas holidays

The formal staircase takes you up the to the bedrooms and the formal baths. The house was one of the first in the community to have electricity and hot and cold running water with all modern plumbing.

The stairs were wide and long due to the ladies dresses of the time

The artwork on the walls and landings was just breathtaking

The artwork on the landings and hallways is magnificent

The bedrooms on the second floor are as elaborate as the rest of the house. While Fredrick’s bedroom was very plain in comparison to Louise’s who designed her bedroom after Marie Antoinette’s that she saw at Versailles. The room has a railing around it.

Louise’s Bedroom was based on what she saw in Europe.

Fredrick’s bedroom is less formal

The Bathroom with its modern plumbing and lighting

The elaborate rooms of the Vanderbilt Mansion

The household had a staff of over thirty people to attend to the household and grounds with their formal gardens. The kitchen staff had a well attended kitchen to work with and according to the tour guide, the staff was well treated at the Vanderbilt mansion. Fredrick was a good boss and provided well for his loyal staff.

The basement kitchen of the Vanderbilt Mansion

Touring the Vanderbilt Mansion at the Christmas holidays is always a treat but if you miss it, you can go during the year and still the elaborate rooms and beautiful grounds during the summer months. Take time to walk around the extensive lawns and gardens.

History of the Vanderbilt Mansion:

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.

Fredrick William Vanderbilt later in life

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.

Louise Vanderbilt

Hyde 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.

Vanderbilt Estate

The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY

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 Phoebe 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 gingko 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 greenhouses. 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.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden           421 East 61st Street                                            New York, NY 10065

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden 421 East 61st Street New York, NY 10065

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

421 East 61st Street

New York, NY  10065

(212) 838-6878

http://www.mvhm.org

Home

Open: Tuesday-Sunday-11:00am-4:00pm

Fee: Adults $8.00/Seniors & Students $7.00  Donation

TripAdvisor Review:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d309468-Reviews-Mount_Vernon_Hotel_Museum_Garden-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

I had come across the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum when I was walking East 61st Street and went to take the tour of the building ($8.00). It is a one hour (or more as I there for almost two hours but I was by myself) tour of both floors. The upstairs is the sleeping rooms, the ladies parlors where female guests would enjoy tea, games, music and reading. The main landing was for dancing and for gatherings.

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The Ladies Palour at the Mount Vernon Museum

The main floor was the Men’s parlors where there is a bar and two rooms for male activities such as cards, gambling and reading. The main entrance was used as the dining room for dinner (our lunch), which was the biggest meal of the day served around 2:00pm.

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Dinner time at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum

The tour guide went over what would have been served, menu’s and meal times. Dinner would have been served at 2:00pm, tea time would have been around 4:00pm-6:00pm and Supper around 8:00pm. The tour of the kitchen show preparation of foods, recipe books and all kitchen equipment including the stoves and baking materials.

If you like the history of “Old New York” and like old homes, hotels and buildings, this is a very interesting tour that deals with the City’s growing middle-class and the new ‘leisure time’ that was coming with the changes in the work week. There are many pieces of period furniture all over the building that show the growth of affluence of the time.

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The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum in the Summer months

Don’t miss the formal walled in garden in the back. It is a place of relaxation from the rest of the city. There are stone walk ways and landscaped gardens as well as an herb garden. The building is owned and maintained by the Colonial Dames of America.

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The walled gardens

I revisited the museum for the holidays and the hotel was decked out in garland and holy based on the decor traditional for the Revolutionary War era Christmas. The archways and tables were lined with greenery and the tables were loaded with oranges plunged with cloves to give the homes at that time a rich citrus smell.

The downstairs dining table was set for a Christmas meal of wild turkey, mock turtle soup, and apple and pumpkin pies. This would have been served in the afternoon as the main meal while it was still light out.

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Holiday goodies at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum getting ready for the holidays

There had been a light snow while we were touring the hotel so when we visited the gardens, it really did have that Christmas feel to it with that light snow all over the pine and the bushes.

During the time of the Revolutionary War and afterwards, homes were not as elaborately decorated as they would have been during Victorian times after the Civil War. Homes were lined with greenery that would have given the home the fragrant smell of pine and strings of cranberries and popcorn would have been used to decorate mantles.

The hotel was getting ready for one of its many special events during the holidays so there was a lot of commotion going on downstairs.

It is a very festive looking place for the holidays so try to tour it when it is open in the month of December.

 

What is the Museum:

Constructed in 1799 as a carriage house and converted into a ‘day hotel’ in 1826, the Museum transports visitors back to Mount Vernon Hotel, a 19th Century country resort for New Yorkers escaping the crowded city below 14th Street.

Recognizing the building as one of the few remaining 18th century sites and the only surviving day hotel in New York City Historic Landmark in 1967, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1983.

History of the House:

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden presents the period of the Mount Vernon Hotel which operated from 1826 until 1833.

Constructed in 1799 as a carriage house for a 23 acre estate and converted into the Mount Vernon in 1826, this stone building sits on land originally owned by Colonel William Stephens Smith and his wife, Abigail Adams Smith, the daughter of John Adams.

This fashionable country resort was popular among New Yorkers who wished to escape the hustle among the bustle of the city, which at that time extended only as far north 14th Street. The Hotel advertised “free from the noise and dust of the public roads and fitted up and intended for only the most gent respectable” clientele. In those days, one could take the stagecoach or steamboat up to 61st Street spend the day at the hotel sipping lemonade in the ladies parlor or playing cards in the gentlemen’s.

In 1833, the house became the home for three generations of a New York City family. In 1905, as the area became more industrialized, the building was purchased by Standard Gas Light Company (today’s Con-Edison). The Colonial Dames of America, a woman’s patriotic society purchased the building in 1924 and did an extensive restoration to the structure, the Colonial Dames opened the site to the public in 1939. The building endures as a rare reminder of an important era in New York City’s history.

What the organization does:

*Welcome 5000 school children annually in grades-pre-K through high school for field trips.

*Summer History Weeks for children ages 6-12

*A Summer High School Internship for 15 students to support college readiness skills and career exploration.

*Two summer Hearst Fellowships for undergraduates or graduate students.

*40+public programs each year, including:

-monthly free Story time

-monthly Lunchtimes lectures

-holiday programs, garden concerts, hands on craft and cooking workshops.

*Temporary exhibitions on facets of life in early 19th century NYC, some promoting local contemporary artists.

*Special programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

*Outreach programs to schools, senior centers and homeless shelters.

*Themed group tours focused on 19th century food, decorative arts or literature.

*Three options for team building events.

*Two free admission days: Smithsonian Museum Day and Open House New York.

Programs are made possible in part by the support of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Member Ben Kallos, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Rosenthal Foundation and the Michael Tuch Foundation.

(Mount Vernon Hotel Pamphlet)

The Colonial Dames of America:

With these words, spoken in April 1890, Maria Denning “May” Van Rensselaer imitated what was to become the oldest colonial lineage society for women in the United States. The Colonial Dames of America. Its mission is to preserve historic sites and objects, award scholarships, educate the public about American history, inspire patriotism and promote fellowship among its members.

(The Colonial Dames of America information).