Breathtaking, timeless and welcoming. The Hudson valley has long been an oasis away from it all. Because of it’s proximity to New York City it’s been a great weekend getaway destination for city dwellers. However, it also has a rich history that goes back to well before the city that never sleeps required slumber. From settlers to battlegrounds and estates the Hudson has always had an allure and charm that beckons to those looking for greener pastures adjacent to the river. There is much to discover in the Hudson Valley and these six historic buildings and landmarks can attest to that.
This 250-acre estate was home to the Rockefeller family for generations. For over 100 years this three-story 40 room stone mansion has been a sight to behold. Located on the top of the Pocantico Hills near Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow,NY, it has magnificent views and New York City can be seen from over 25 miles away.
Now it’s been deemed a historic site by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and tours of the estate are given during the warmer months. If you aren’t impressed by the gorgeous stone structure, the surrounding sculpture gardens will definitely make your visit worthwhile. Works of Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and others can be found around the grounds of this historic public legacy.
Boscobel House and Gardens
Boscobel House has had a fascinating journey throughout the years. It’s now located on a 250-acre riverfront site in Garrison, New York but its original home was in Montrose. This relic of federal style architecture was built between 1804-1808 but was almost lost forever because of constant threats of demolition over the years. It was saved by the group “Friends of Boscobel” or “Boscobel Restoration, Inc” in the 1960’s and was dismantled and rebuilt further up the Hudson river.
What really makes this landmark stand out is the fact that it’s front facade is approximately one-third glass which was groundbreaking at the time it was originally built. This feature graces the home with immaculate light throughout the day. Tours are given through the interior of the Boscobel from April-December and it has decorative arts and high style furniture from the federal period throughout.
For decades there have been many stories about the castle on Pollepel Island. But the truth about the structure is that it’s an abandoned military surplus warehouse. The island is located 50 miles north of NYC and Bannerman castle sits on top of its 6.5 acres. Because it housed military equipment Francis Bannerman VI built a castle to protect explosives and ammunition which he purchased at the end of the American Civil War.
Bannerman Purchased the island in 1900 as means to store items from his flourishing surplus business. Currently, the castle is owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Though the castle’s interior has been destroyed by fire and the exterior is mostly in ruins, it is still a popular tourist destination and has been referenced numerous times in pop culture. It can be seen in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and on the Fox hit show “Sleepy Hollow”.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
“Val-Kill”, which loosely translates to “waterfall-stream”, was the home of former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt from 1945-1962. It sits on 181 acres and is located in Hyde Park, New York. The property was originally developed so that Eleanor could grow ideas for winter jobs for rural workers and women. This was the only property that Eleanor officially owned herself and it is two miles away from the Roosevelt Family Estate.
After FDR’s death, Eleanor spent her last days at “Val-Kill” and after she passed it was almost lost forever. However, in 1977, “Val-Kill” was designated by an act of congress as the “Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site”, because of its beneficial impact on American History. Now, the landmark includes an ER memorial, hiking trails, gardens and guided tours.
Historical Society of Quaker Hill and Pawling
The John Kane House, Oblong Friends Meeting House, and Akin Free library & Museum are all apart of the Historical Society of Quaker Hill and Pawling. The John Kane House, built in the mid -18th century, is famous for being one of George Washington’s headquarters during the revolutionary war. While Akin Hall opened as a community center and library for the Quaker community in the area in 1881 it now houses a Quaker Museum, the Olive Gunnison Museum of natural history and a free library.
However, the most interesting landmark at this location may be the Oblong Friends meeting house which was built in 1764. It is truly a slice of American history as it still looks like it did when the first Quakers moved to the area in the 1700’s. It still has the same wooden benches & partitioned pulley systems that the original settlers used centuries ago.
Mount Beacon Incline Railway
This former mountain side incline-railroad was built in 1902 by the world famous Otis Elevator Company. During its heyday, it was the steepest incline railway in the world and has carried millions of visitors to the peak of Mount Beacon during its 75-year operational history. Mount Beacon is actually another landmark that has a military history and it gets its name because it served as a beacon for the Continental Army during the revolutionary war.
Although the railway hasn’t operated since 1978 and was completely destroyed by a fire in 1983, fires have ravished it multiple times over the years, there are still many efforts to restore it to its original glory. For example, the Mount Beacon Incline railway Society provides exhibitions as well as guided tours up the mountain so that the spirit of the railway never dies. The railway has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.