Historic Mansions of the Hudson Valley
By Abigail Foster
Do you ever wonder what it was like to live in the Gilded Age? Then look no further than the many historic mansions hidden throughout the Hudson Valley. A time of opulent wealth and extravagant lifestyles, the remnants of this period of American history are still present in the carefully maintained mansions that are open for the public to explore.
The historic Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park is one of the Hudson Valley’s oldest historic mansions. The estate itself is over 200 acres, and includes Italian gardens and breathtaking views of the Catskills and the Hudson River. The 54 room main house has been carefully maintained to represent what life was like as an upper-class American as accurately as possible. The grounds are free and open for the public to explore until sunset all year long. Guided house tours are also available.
The Staatsburgh State Historic Site in Staatsburg is another beautifully maintained mansion from the 19th century. This estate was owned by the Mills family, amongst whom were financiers, philanthropists and landowners. The main house on the Staatsburgh estate was remodeled by the same architectural firm, McKim, Mead and White, who were instrumental in creating the Vanderbilt Mansion. The main house is open for guided tours throughout the year, and the grounds are free and open to the public.
The Wilderstein Estate in Rhinebeck was home to Daisy Suckley, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s cousin. The estate is unique compared to other historic mansions in the area because of its Italianate country home design that differs from the classic English style that is seen in both Vanderbilt and Staatsburgh. The tour season for this mansion typically ends in October, but offers a special holiday tour season where tours are given every weekend until the end of December.
The Clermont Historic Site in Germantown was once home to the Livingston family, who were significantly involved in the creation of the United States as an independent nation. One member of this historic family, Robert Livingston, Jr., helped draft the Declaration of Independence. The well-manicured grounds of the Livingston estate feature four gardens, the main house and a stunning view of the Hudson River. The grounds and gardens are free for the public to explore from 8:30 a.m. to sunset, and guided tours of the mansion are also offered to the public.