Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sonnenberg Mansion

I love visiting mansions. One of my all-time favorites is Sonnenberg Mansion. I saw it on the way back from a road trip to the Thousand Islands-- I took a dip toward the Finger Lakes, to Canandaigua. Built in 1887, it was the summer home of New York City banker Frederick Ferris Thompson, and his wife Mary Clark Thompson, whose father, Myron Holley Clark, was at one time Governor of New York State. The 40-room Queen Anne style mansion was designed by Francis Allen, a noted Boston architect. Mary Clark Thompson grew up in Canandaigua, and missed the summers here. The Thompsons named it Sonnenberg (German for "Sunny Hill").
Sonnenberg's gardens were designed and built between 1902-1919, and originally consisted of nine gardens in a variety of styles. (Info from Wikipedia.)
The mansion's facade is rusticated graystone with Medina sandstone trim and gables made from timber and stucco. The roof is slate with lead-coated copper.

I visited three mansions/castles on that roadtrip. Each one was more wondrous than the last. Boldt Castle was magnificent; Singer Castle was awesome, and Sonnenberg was awesomely magnificent.

Here is the greenhouse complex. I love the curves of these old-style greenhouses.

What could be a more welcoming view into a greenhouse? I stared at it smiling and dreaming for a very long moment.

The Japanese garden.

This was the peacock house! Can you imagine! The air-conditioned dog house scandal of a few years back can't hold a candle to this! (Wasn't that those religious freaks, the Bakkers/PTL?)

They had a rock garden area. I thought that being early in the season, and that it blooms later in upstate New York, that the gardens would be disappointing. Was I ever wrong. Being able to see the structures of the gardens because they weren't overgrown was a very satisfying and edifying experience.

I could picnic here every day.

The front lawns stretched on and on. The long curves were so elegant and calming.

This was the first room after the entry way. It was medieval and inviting. If I could live in any of the three mansions on this trip, I'd pick Sonnenberg hands-down.

View from above, from the "Minstrel's Gallery," down onto the living room from the last picture.
The picture doesn't capture the warm green light coming from the long window. The panes were green and the room was bathed in soft light.

Another view of the upstairs. Again, like the last two mansions of this trip, you could take all the pictures you want. And like Boldt, you could walk around by yourself without a guide, which was so much fun. Also there was only one other couple touring the house at that time.

View from the balcony of the master bedroom. Aaaaaaah.

The Porte-cochere (fancy french term for carport.)

For more info, visit the website:

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