Thursday, November 5, 2009


Here's a blog entry that's not one big joke. So if you only want humor, you'll have to come back another day. This entry is about local architecture. Another of my many hobbies is appreciating architecture. The Hudson Valley has a lot of mansions that a person can visit. It's no Newport RI, but there are still a lot of treasures here. One of them is a local Victorian Mansion called "Wilderstein."

The basic structure was built by Thomas Suckley around 1852 as a two- story Italianate villa. It was renovated around 1888 by his son, Robert Bowne Suckley, who made extensive changes, turning it into the Queen Anne mansion we recognize today.

detail of the mansion

The history is involved, because all of these historical mansions were owned by rich people who married among each other's families , split up land, and gained and lost fortunes. Such locally significant names as Livingston (Clermont), Beekman, Montgomery, and Roosevelt are involved in this story.

Gate Lodge: this is where SERVANTS lived!

Robert Bowne Suckley died in 1921. The house evenually fell to his eldest daughter, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley.
She was a close friend of her distant cousin, FDR, and some say they had an affair. She gave him the famous dog Fala.
In 1983 she dedicated the house to the Wilderstein Preservation group and l ived there until her death at age 99 in 1991. Because the house never fell out of the family, we have extensive family records, photos, memorabilia, and furnishings. However, the house was expensive to maintain, and the Suckley fortune dwindled.

Extensive repairs have been carried out to the main house.

The carriage house still awaits restoration.

poor carriage house.

detail from carriage house

The story of the family is engaging. I recommend Wilderstein and the Suckleys: A Hudson River Legacy, by Cynthia Owen Philip (2001).

Inside, the parlor:

Hey, when I began the tour, I asked if I could take pictures. The volunteer directing the way through the parlor said yes.
It wasn't until I took a picture of the dinner table that I got the lecture about light, photographs, and preservation.

The dinner table was set as if the family had gone for a walk, and left the window open. There were (stuffed) wild animals here and there taking advantage, in a sort of reverse Goldilocks story.

The porch and the way it framed the views was most impressive.

Each section is a masterpiece in itself.

I hate winter, but with a view like this, I could learn to love it.

See how the scene above is framed below:

Finally, a small detail on the property that I liked so much:

I had to copy it in my own yard.

And isn't this where all good adventures end, at home.

1 comment:

Abrahm said...

Neat! Why didn't you link to this on Facebook? That mansion is just ridiculous and beautiful!