Five Historic Hudson Valley Landmarks

December 10, 2011 by wilsonneelynyc

By New York Resident Wilson Neely

Popularized by the 19th-century tales of Washington Irving, the picturesque Hudson Valley was home to Mahican and Munsee tribes of Native Americans, a considerable Dutch population, and the British before attracting some of the wealthiest Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries. With such a rich history, the area boasts numerous landmarks, including the following:

Kykuit: Built by John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame, this estate includes awe-inspiring architecture in the six-story stone house, fabulous gardens, and art galleries featuring the works of Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and other famous artists. The estate, continuously maintained for more than a century, holds a designation as a historic site with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Philipsburg Manor: Owned by Anglo-Dutch merchants in the mid-18th century, this farming complex, with interpreters donning in period costumes, offers a working gristmill, a 300-year-old manor house, a Dutch barn, an activity center, and historic breeds of oxen, sheep, cows, and chickens.

Montgomery Place: Designed by Alexander Jackson Davis with landscaping by Andrew Jackson Downing, this architectural landmark encompasses 380 acres, with woodland trails through a mixed hardwood forest that lead to magnificent waterfalls. The property includes a mansion with classical revival exteriors, gardens, an arboretum, a hamlet, woodlands, and orchards.

Union Church of Pocantico Hills: Founded in the early 1920s on land donated by John D. Rockefeller, this beautiful stone church has benefited from patronage of the Rockefeller family, which commissioned divine stained-glass windows by renowned artists Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse. The church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunnyside: Owing to the vision of Washington Irving, this estate grew from a small cottage to a beautiful estate as the owner added to it in stages. The intimate setting includes a gently winding path leading to stunning views of the Hudson River. A number of the original furnishings remain, providing one of the country’s most authentic glimpses into 19th-century living, and guides in period costume share their knowledge of the property’s history.

About the author: Named a 2011 Super Lawyer, New York attorney Wilson Neely of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP sits on the Board of Trustees of Historic Hudson Valley, which preserves and promotes area landmarks.

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