A handful of majestic estates line the Hudson River, representing several centuries of architectural and cultural trends including American Renaissance, Georgian, Federal, Romantic, Greek Revival, and Gothic Revival. Many have been turned into interpretive museums that are open to the public.
Here’s our list of estates not to be missed.
- Philipse Manor Hall, Yonkers
This mansion, built for Frederick Philipse III, was confiscated by the state and sold at an auction after George Washington ordered Philipse arrested for his Loyalist beliefs. The state reacquired the house in 1908; today, it is a museum devoted to 18th-century history, art, and architecture.
- Sunnyside, Tarrytown
Writer Washington Irving’s former abode, full of gables and towers, sits beside a pond with swans. Guides in period dress take you back to the mid-19th-century during a house and grounds tour.
- Lyndhurst, Tarrytown
The magnificent Gothic Revival estate, designed by the great Alexander Jackson Davis in 1838, was home to a mayor, a merchant, and a railroad magnate. It is now managed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose staff offers guided tours of the house and grounds.
- Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow
This reconstructed 17th- and 18th-century manor house, which relied heavily upon slaves for its operation, is complete with a functional water-powered gristmill and guides in period dress.
- Kykuit, Sleepy Hollow
The former Rockefeller estate is famed for its magnificent grounds and collection of modern art, including works by Picasso and Calder. Staff offer guided tours.
- Van Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson
This lovely 18th-century stone-and-clapboard house is not as well known as the Tarrytown mansions and therefore a good place to visit on summer weekends. Guides show visitors one of the largest and best-equipped 18th-century kitchens in the United States, as well as colonial and federal period furniture.
- Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie
The romantic octagonal villa was once the summer home of artist-scientist-philosopher Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph. It is now a museum and 200-acre nature preserve.
- Springwood, Hyde Park
Perhaps the most interesting of the Hudson River estates, Springwood is FDR’s former home, a deeply personal place. Adjoining it is a first-rate library-museum. Nearby is Eleanor Roosevelt’s equally personal Val-Kill. Together, they comprise the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, operated by the National Parks Service.
- Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park
This was the most extravagant Hudson River estate, built in a posh beaux arts style. Go here to drool over lavish furnishings, gold-leaf ceilings, Flemish tapestries, and the like.
- Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Staatsburg
The vast, 65-room mansion sits on a hill overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Edith Wharton based the Trenor estate in The House of Mirth on this place.
- Wilderstein, Rhinebeck
This whimsical, all-wooden Queen Anne mansion with interiors by Tiffany and grounds designed by Calvert Vaux is one of the smaller estates. Visitors can enjoy house tours and exploring the three miles of trails crisscrossing the estate.
- Montgomery Place, Annandale-on-Hudson
Though the classical revival style mansion is impressive, the grounds here are the main draw; 380 acres feature woodland trails with views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, as well as carefully groomed gardens.
- Clermont State Historic Site, Germantown
This grand mansion has an especially fine front lawn lined with black locust trees. Historic house tours are offered or visitors can simply wander the 500 acres of grounds.
- Olana State Historic Site, Hudson
This eccentric Persian-style castle, perched high on a hill, was built by Hudson River School painter Frederic Church in 1870. The landscaped grounds are considered as impressive as Church’s artwork.