Tag: furniture

Cedar Grove (1815)

After visiting Olana, it was a quick trip across the Hudson River to Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, in Catskill, New York. Built in 1815 by the Thomson family, the house was later the home of painter Thomas Cole, who married a niece of the owner, a local merchant named John A. Thomson, in 1836. Cole is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting. Frederic Edwin Church, who would later build Olana, was a student of Cole at Cedar Grove. The Greene County Historical Society purchased the property in 1998 and it has been open as a house museum since 2001. › Continue reading…

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Wrights Ferry Mansion

We left Wheatland for our other stop in Lancaster County, in the town of Columbia on the Susquehanna River. Wright’s Ferry Mansion is the restored home of Susanna Wright, an English Quaker settler who never married, but bought property on what was then the frontier and became self-sufficient operating the ferry crossing. She was an intellectual who wrote poetry, taught herself Latin, and corresponded with such figures as Benjamin Franklin. She also grew silk worms and wrote a treatise on the subject. The restored house museum features Philadelphia furniture made before 1750. There’s an expensive but very complete set of two books covering the house and the collection. › Continue reading…

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Hans Herr House (1719)

Hans Herr House

Leaving State College, our destination was Lancaster County, PA. This is the heart of what is called the Pennsylvania Dutch (really Pennsylvania German) country. I visited four historic sites in the area over two days. On our first day in the area, I visited the Hans Herr House (1719), 1849 Hans Herr Dr, Willow Street, PA. This is the oldest surviving house in Lancaster County. Built by Mennonite settlers as a home and a meeting house, it is now a museum owned by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. The house is small, but very impressive because it really has a medieval look. The house is made of stone and with its irregular placement of windows, it is quite a contrast with the types of houses I’m used to in New England. That is the great thing, for those interested in old buildings, about traveling to a region like Lancaster County, where the early settlers were not all English and had a quite different building tradition. In addition to the Hans Herr House, the property has has two later farmhouses, built by Herr descendants (one of which has the visitor center, the other is a private home), a reconstructed blacksmith shop and barn, and a barn with a large display of farm implements. Adjacent to the house, there is also an herb garden. › Continue reading…

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Hope Lodge (1748)

Hope Lodge

Returning home from my trip this summer to Philadelphia, I stopped at two historic home outside the city. The first stop was Hope Lodge, in Fort Washington in Montgomery County. Hope Lodge is a classic Georgian-style country mansion, built between 1743 and 1748 for a Quaker businessman named Samuel Morris. It was designed by Philadelphia architect Edmund Woolley and is a country cousin to the grand houses in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. As a house museum, Hope Lodge is notable for presenting two time periods inside: the Colonial and the Colonial Revival (not unlike the Webb House in Wethersfield, Connecticut). Also of note are the extensive basement rooms, which include a meat cellar, dairy cellar, scullery, and root cellar.

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Lyndhurst (1838)

Lyndhurst

Located just next door to Sunnyside, in Terrytown, NY, is Lyndhurst, another very significant nineteenth century mansion. This building‘s place in American architectural history can not be understated, as it is one of the great examples of the Gothic Revival style. Lyndhurst was constructed in two phases, both times to designs by architect Alexander Jackson Davis, who also designed much of the furniture. The first phase (1838-1842) was for William Paulding, Jr. and the second (1864-1865) for George Merritt. Jay Gould owned the house from 1880 to 1892 and his daughter, Anna Gould, Duchess of Talleyrand-Perigord, donated it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961. Visitors to the house can either tour on their own or take a guided tour (the same choice was offered when I visited Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts). Before touring the house, I wondered where the gift shop was. It was not until the end of the tour that I entered the shop in the basement, which had a good selection of items. Both Sunnyside and Lyndhurst sell guidebooks about their respective houses which are excellent examples of such books, providing detailed historical information in addition to pictures. The angle of the afternoon sun prevented me from taking an adequate picture of the house! › Continue reading…

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The Warner House (1836)

Warner House

The Warner House is located on Constitution Island on the Hudson River. The island is near Boscobel and right across the river from West Point. The house is a landmark because it was home, from 1839 to 1915, to the Warner sisters: Susan Warner, who wrote the bestselling novel, The Wide, Wide World, in 1850, and Anna Warner, who wrote the words to the hymn, Jesus Loves Me. In 1916, the Constitution Island Association was formed to protect the house and its furnishings, but the house is currently not open to the public because it has been declared structurally unsound. I was able to visit the house a while back, on the same group tour which then took me to Boscobel for the second time. I hope that, with the cooperation of West Point, this historic house can be restored and eventually reopened to the public. › Continue reading…

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Boscobel

I’ve been to Boscobel twice, the second time as part of a group tour. The picture above is the best one I took, although members of the group are plainly visible. It’s a Federal-style mansion on the Hudson River with extensive grounds and an excellent view of West Point. Inside, the house has a great collection of Federal-style furniture. I have a particular liking for the Federal style, so this must rank as a top recommendation among the many historic house museums in the Hudson River Valley. Boscobel was built in 1804-1808 for the wealthy States Dyckman, a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, who did not live to see the mansion’s completion. His wife and son then lived in the house. The house originally stood in Montrose, New York, but was later taken down and eventually reconstructed in Garrison and reopened in 1961. When I was last there, over a year ago, the gift shop had three particularly notable books about the site: one was a picture book of the house, the second a book on the home’s Federal furnishings, and the third a biography of States Dyckman. The two picture books are excellent examples of the types of attractive guidebooks historic houses should have available. As a showplace of the Federal style, Boscobel ranks with such other houses as Gore Place, in Waltham Mass., and the Gardner-Pingree House in Salem, Mass.

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