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Title: Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, New York - Historical Handbook Number Thirty-Two
Author: Snell, Charles W.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    [Illustration: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR · March 3, 1849]

                     Stewart L. Udall, _Secretary_

                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                      Conrad L. Wirth, _Director_


This publication is one of a series of handbooks describing the
historical and archeological areas in the National Park System
administered by the National Park Service of the United States
Department of the Interior. It is printed by the Government Printing
Office and may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
Washington, D.C. 20402. Price 60 cents.

                           Vanderbilt Mansion

                         _by Charles W. Snell_

    [Illustration: Bridge]

                         Washington, D.C., 1960
                             (Reprint 1961)

_The National Park System, of which Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic
Site is a unit, is dedicated to conserving the scenic, scientific, and
historic heritage of the United States for the benefit and inspiration
of its people._

    [Illustration: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE]


  THE VANDERBILT NAME AND FORTUNE                                      2
  “ANOTHER MILLIONAIRE IN DUTCHESS”                                    3
  A MANSION IN THE MAKING                                              7
  ESTATE DEVELOPMENT                                                   8
  FINAL CHANGES TO THE MANSION AND GROUNDS                            12
  A WAY OF LIFE                                                       14
  SOCIETY IN THE HUDSON VALLEY                                        17
  OPERATION OF THE ESTATE                                             21
  THE VANDERBILTS AND THE PEOPLE OF HYDE PARK                         23
  EARLY HISTORY OF THE ESTATE                                         26
  DESCRIPTION OF THE MANSION                                          32
  DESCRIPTION OF THE GROUNDS                                          45
  TRAVEL ROUTES TO THE SITE                                           50
  ABOUT YOUR VISIT                                                    50
  THE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE                                          50
  SUGGESTED READINGS                                                  52

    [Illustration: _Vanderbilt Mansion._]

    [Illustration: Horse-drawn coach]

  _Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, at Hyde Park, N. Y., is a
  monument to an era. It is a magnificent example of the palatial
  estates developed by financiers and industrialists in the period
  between the Civil War and World War I—a time when the United States
  surged into world prominence as an industrial nation and the new age
  of machines created great wealth that was almost untouched by

Focal point of the site is the mansion. Built in the Italian Renaissance
style, its architecture and its furnishings show how strongly European
art and culture influenced wealthy Americans at the turn of the 20th
century. Vanderbilt Mansion is figuratively a palace transplanted from
the Old World to the banks of the historic Hudson River.

The extensive grounds surrounding the mansion have been a part of great
estates for almost two centuries. From natural terraces fronting the
Hudson, the grounds level off to the open woods and lawns of an
English-type park, then descend to forested seclusion in the valley of
Crum Elbow Creek. Notable specimen trees dot the landscape, many of them
from Europe and Asia. All these features combine to provide a setting
worthy of the mansion itself.

Frederick William Vanderbilt made this estate his country home for 43
years, from 1895 until his death in 1938. Frederick was a grandson of
Cornelius Vanderbilt—the Commodore—who had founded the family fortune in
shipping and railroading.

                   _The Vanderbilt Name and Fortune_

The name Vanderbilt (originally van der Bilt) was prominent throughout
most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. This was largely due to the
wealth of the family and the importance of its members in the
transportation industry.

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a descendant of Dutch settlers who had migrated
to America in the latter half of the 17th century. He first became
interested in shipping while helping his father in odd jobs of boating
and lightering around New York Harbor. When still a young man, he went
into business for himself. He prospered, and soon his ships were calling
at ports around the world.

Railroads were expanding rapidly at the time; but not until late in his
life—at the urging of his eldest son, William Henry—did Cornelius
Vanderbilt become interested in this new phase of transportation. Soon
the name Vanderbilt was inseparable from railroading in the United

After the Commodore’s death in 1877, William expanded the Vanderbilt
railroad interests in a number of systems, including the New York
Central. When he died quite suddenly in 1885, several of his sons, left
with substantial holdings of stock, increased their participation in the
active management of the roads. One of these sons was Frederick William,
future builder of Vanderbilt Mansion.

Born February 2, 1856, Frederick had attended Yale before entering his
father’s office. In 1878 he had married Louise Holmes Anthony, daughter
of Charles L. Anthony, prominent financier of New York City and Newport,

Aside from his business, Vanderbilt had few active interests, but was
devoted to yachting. He was associated with Mrs. Vanderbilt in many
philanthropic endeavors, particularly those related to young people; and
he gave generously to several institutions of higher learning. Benefited
during his lifetime and provided for in his will were Yale; Vanderbilt
University at Nashville, Tenn.; and the Vanderbilt Clinic at Columbia
University, built in memory of his father. Vanderbilt avoided personal
exploitation of his benefactions just as he avoided membership in clubs
and organizations of the type that might bring his name to public
attention through officership or committee activity. This preference for
anonymity continued until his death at Hyde Park on June 29, 1938, at
the age of 82.

Vanderbilt was buried in the family mausoleum at New Dorp, Staten
Island. He left no immediate survivors, for his wife had died in Paris
12 years earlier and they had had no children.

An accounting of the estate revealed that Vanderbilt, although retired
for some years, had retained directorships in 22 railroads and many
other corporations. His chief holdings were in the New York Central
railroad system, a Vanderbilt enterprise from its beginning. The fortune
he left amounted to more than $78 million.

    [Illustration: _Frederick W. Vanderbilt as a young man._]

                  “_Another Millionaire in Dutchess_”

When this headline of May 12, 1895, announced that another millionaire
was coming to Dutchess County, residents of Hyde Park were not
particularly impressed. For years the merchants of the village had been
servicing the estates of wealthy men. Many of the townspeople were
employed as gardeners, drivers, and domestics by the families of John
Jacob Astor, Ogden Mills, Jacob Ruppert, Governor Levi P. Morton, James
and John Roosevelt, and others prominent in the business and political

It was of interest, however, that the new neighbors, Mr. and Mrs.
Frederick W. Vanderbilt, would occupy the Walter Langdon property, which
they had purchased. It was also noteworthy that they planned extensive
improvements to the mansion and grounds.

Langdon had acquired the property about 1852, buying out the interests
of his mother and sisters and brothers with whom he had held joint title
through a gift from his grandfather, John Jacob Astor. During his
ownership, Langdon had increased the size of the estate from 125 to 600
acres. He had also carried on the horticultural interests of earlier
owners and had given the grounds a park-like atmosphere with walks,
drives, and rustic walls and bridges. In later years, however, his
interest seemed to have waned, and there were evidences of neglect all

    [Illustration: _The old Langdon House, built in 1847 and demolished
    to make way for Vanderbilt Mansion._]

One reporter described the Vanderbilts’ new estate as “... a beautiful
park all grown up to underbrush.” He noted that “There were hot houses
ample but empty, the stables and farm buildings were in a state of
extreme dilapidation, and the 40-room old mansion of the purest Greek
architecture was painted a light pink....”

The new owner lost no time in getting started with his improvement
program. He engaged the services of the famed New York architectural
firm of McKim, Mead, and White, and by the end of June their agents had
completed measured drawings of the buildings on the estate.

It was decided that the former Langdon mansion would be remodeled. By
September, architect Charles F. McKim had completed the plans. The north
and south wings of the old structure were to be torn down and replaced.
The central portion was to be retained under a new facade, and the rooms
within it redecorated. Norcross Brothers, then the largest construction
firm in the United States, moved in to begin work.

Remodeling of the mansion and other phases of the rehabilitation were
obviously long-range programs. Some provision had to be made for a
temporary residence for the Vanderbilts. The architect and contractor
accordingly directed their first efforts toward this end.

A carriage house of native field stone, probably erected in the late
1820’s, stood 540 feet north of the old mansion. Investigation revealed
that the lime in the foundations and walls of this building had
deteriorated to a point where the structure was unsafe, and it was
decided to remove it completely. Plans were drawn for a pavilion to be
erected on the same site. This would accommodate the Vanderbilts until
the mansion was completed.

Time was at a premium if the new building was to be available for
occupancy in the summer of 1896, and cost was no object. To speed the
project, dynamite was placed under the four corners of the carriage
house to bring it down, care being taken to protect nearby trees. The
old structure was removed during the first week in September; and on
November 24, 1895, just 66 working days later, the pavilion was
completed. To accomplish this feat, the contractors had their carpenters
working shoulder-to-shoulder.

    [Illustration: _Architect’s drawing of Vanderbilt Mansion._]

For all the haste in its planning and building, the pavilion was an
outstanding example of the owner’s desire to provide for the comfort of
his gentleman friends when they visited him. This was the ultimate use
for which the pavilion was planned, and no detail was overlooked. A
large entrance hall, featuring an immense fireplace, was fitted for
dining, general assembly, and congenial lounging. A butler’s pantry and
kitchen for the preparation of game dinners, and several bathrooms
equipped with showers for the convenience of guests were also on the
first floor. From a balcony around the large central hall there opened
the second floor rooms—bedrooms and servants’ quarters. A narrow
staircase led to the roof, opening through a hatchway to a railed
promenade or captain’s walk with a gunwale and a canvas-covered deck.

    [Illustration: _The pavilion._]

    [Illustration: _West portico._]

While Mrs. Vanderbilt resided there, the pavilion wore an aspect of
“quiet domesticity.” One story told of her small rooms on the second
floor “... brightened by a variety of exquisite feminine trifles.” Among
these was a novel arrangement of rich portieres or doorway curtains that
gracefully concealed the door.

Once the pavilion was completed, the contractor began, in January 1896,
to remodel the Langdon mansion. Construction of two smaller houses for
friends and relatives of the Vanderbilts was also started. (A gentleman
of the press, evidently overwhelmed by the mansion, would later describe
one of these smaller houses as “... a comparatively commonplace
structure of red brick....” And, compared to the mansion, it _was_
commonplace—a mere Georgian colonial house containing 16 rooms and 3
baths with a circular staircase leading from the front hall to the upper

                       _A Mansion in the Making_

Work had scarcely started on the mansion when serious structural defects
were discovered in the walls of the center section. Complete demolition
was deemed necessary. Vanderbilt balked at first, maintaining that he
would have built along different lines had he felt there was nothing of
the old house to be saved. Mrs. Vanderbilt was unhappy, too. In a letter
to architect McKim, then in Egypt, his partner William R. Mead stated:
“... when it was found the old house had to come down, Mrs. Vanderbilt
kicked over the traces, and was disposed to build an English house, as
she called it.”

But the architects prevailed. New plans were drawn with the center
section rooms arranged along virtually the same lines as in the old
house. The exterior features, including the projecting west portico that
the Vanderbilts had particularly admired, were retained.

The new plans were ready in August 1896, and demolition of the old
Langdon mansion was completed in September. Excavation of the deep
basements for the new house was completed by hand and the foundations
were finished before heavy snows in January 1897 forced suspension of
the work.

As soon as the weather broke, activity resumed on the mansion project.
Brickwork was completed by November, and electrical, plumbing, and
heating systems were installed.

The heavy construction was barely completed when plasterers, stone
carvers, and other artisans swarmed over the building. Working under the
direction of the noted interior decorators, Ogden Codman and Georges A.
Glaenzer, these men installed ceilings, wall tapestries, marble mantels,
columns and pilasters, and beautiful mosaics and woodwork. Many of these
items came from the Emperor Napoleon’s former chateau of Malmaison near
Paris, also owned by Vanderbilt. A mural was painted by H. Siddons
Mowbray on the drawing room ceiling.

The curious public was barred from the estate during these operations
for fear of damage to the exquisite and costly decorations. But
speculation concerning the interior of the mansion could not be stopped.
One reporter, commenting on the number of skilled workmen and artists
who daily tramped into the building, surmised that “... the inside will
be as rich and beautiful as the outside is massive and splendid.”
Another writer seemed gripped with nostalgia for a simpler day when he
wrote: “The modest dwellings which satisfied wealthy landowners along
the Hudson half a century ago ... are disappearing. On their sites are
rising baronial halls fit for royalty....”

By April 1899, the furniture was being installed in the mansion, and on
May 12 the Vanderbilts gave their first house party there. Guests for
this auspicious occasion arrived at Hyde Park by special train.

Actual cost of the new mansion, unfurnished and without fixtures, was
$660,000. The total cost of all construction and improvements, from May
1895 to March 1899, has been estimated at $2,250,000. And this was an
age when a man worked all day for a dollar.

                          _Estate Development_

During the period when work on the mansion was at a standstill, and
while work on the smaller houses was progressing, a large force of men
was engaged in improvement of the grounds. In the larger portion of the
estate lying east of the Albany Post Road, the order was to leave nature
undisturbed to the greatest extent possible. Following the natural
windings of a forest path, a carriage drive was laid out. A few
obstructing rocks and trees were removed, and brooks were spanned, but
generally the route of the drive was marked by outcropping ledges,
overhanging forest trees, masses of ferns growing down to the wagon
tracks, and a myriad of wildflowers. Readers of the _Poughkeepsie Sunday
Courier_ were regaled with this description of the drive: “As you wind
along in the midst of its solitude and verdure, you might imagine
yourself far away in the Adirondack forest, so sweet and still is the
fragrant woodland....”

    [Illustration: _View of mansion from the north._]

    [Illustration: _Brougham carriage used by the Vanderbilts._]

    [Illustration: _White Bridge from the south._]

    [Illustration: _Stone bridge leading to coach house._]

Some draining and grading was necessary to improve the land. A stagnant
pond was cleaned out to create a miniature lake. The valuable muck,
estimated at $30,000, was piled in a nearby field for later use as

In 1897, while work on the mansion went on apace, there was much
activity on other fronts. A large standpipe, 10,000 feet of water pipe,
and a large dam were installed to form a water system. Also completed
was a powerhouse to generate all the electricity for the mansion and
other estate buildings. On the grounds, extensive forestry operations,
including trimming and replanting, were carried out. Two new greenhouses
were erected in line with a program for improving the extensive gardens.

    [Illustration: _Main gate._]

An old frame bridge crossing Crum Elbow Creek to the Post Road was
replaced with the present White Bridge, for its time a very modern steel
and concrete arch structure. A stable-coach house was built downstream.
It was reached by a newly constructed rustic fieldstone bridge across
the creek.

A contract for the erection of stone gatehouses was awarded in March
1898. These, together with gates and stone walls, were completed by the
end of the year. The farm buildings on the east side of the Albany Post
Road were repaired during the summer of 1899; roads were constructed on
the farm section, and many large trees were transplanted.

               _Final Changes to the Mansion and Grounds_

Beginning in 1901, and continuing through the next 5 years, minor but
important changes in and additions to the estate were made. The splendid
barns, still standing on the farm section east of the Post Road, were
erected. An Italian garden, starting from a point near the river
entrance and laid out in terraces to the highest point of the hill, was
planned by James L. Greenleaf and executed under his direction.

    [Illustration: _South porch._]

The grounds were enlarged in October 1905 when Vanderbilt purchased the
estate of the late Samuel B. Sexton. This property of 64 acres, known as
Torham, adjoined the Vanderbilt estate on the north and was considered a
handsome addition. Sexton’s mansion had been destroyed by fire several
years before, but there remained some cottages, conservatories, a
carriage house, a boathouse, barns, and other outbuildings. All of
these, except the boathouse, were demolished in 1906 as part of a
program to match the new property with the rest of the estate in what
was called “the park plan.” The present north gate and stone walls were
added to the new section at this time.

In the same year, final alteration of the mansion took place. Architect
Whitney Warren of New York directed changes in the drawing room, main
hall, and second floor hall. The Mowbray mural in the drawing room,
which the Vanderbilts did not like, was removed.

With these changes, the mansion and estate began to look approximately
as they do today.

                            _A Way of Life_

In the 1890’s approximately nine-tenths of the wealth of the country was
controlled by one-tenth of the population. It was an era of triumphant
business enterprise when men of ambition and talent concentrated their
energies on gathering the abundant fruits of America’s burgeoning
industrial might. It was a time when the income tax had been ruled
unconstitutional; a time when the captains of industry and commerce
could use their millions for pursuits and pastimes that made even the
wonders of Aladdin pale.

The great mansion was typical of these amazing enterprises. And
typically, the owners ransacked Europe for art treasures and furnishings
with which to fill them. The Vanderbilt family alone built four of these
“baronial halls.” Frederick Vanderbilt’s Hyde Park mansion was matched
in elegance by those of his three brothers: George Washington
Vanderbilt’s Biltmore, near Asheville, N.C., was reputed to have cost $3
million; Cornelius Vanderbilt II built the elaborately decorated
Breakers at Newport, R.I.; William K. Vanderbilt’s Spanish-Moorish
mansion, Eagle’s Nest, is at Centerport, Long Island. Today, all are
open to the public—museums of art, memorials to an age.

A favorite pastime of wealthy sportsmen was yachting—and in the
Vanderbilt family, this was almost as fixed a tradition as railroading.
From 1889 to 1938, Frederick Vanderbilt kept that tradition alive with a
series of four large seagoing luxury craft. During World War I, he
donated the third of these, _Vedette I_, to the United States
Government, and it was used by the Navy for submarine patrol in the
Atlantic. The fourth ship, _Vedette II_, was built at Copenhagen in
1924. This twin-screw diesel craft—158 feet long with a 23-man crew—was
used by Vanderbilt until his death.

    [Illustration: Vedette II, _Vanderbilt’s last yacht_.]

Aside from yacht owning, there were the international yacht races for
such prizes as the America’s Cup. Several times Vanderbilt joined with
other sportsmen in financing entries to these races. In 1934, one of
these entries, the _Rainbow_, won the cup at Newport.

The pattern of life followed by the Vanderbilt’s was typical, not only
of their own Hyde Park neighbors, but of others of their station. A more
or less uniform cycle was followed year after year.

New York City was then the hub of the financial and business world, and
here were centered the formal social interests of the wealthy.
Consequently, it was essential that a townhouse be maintained there,
though not necessarily as a principal residence. Depending upon their
other interests, the members of this select group often moved about with
the seasons.

About the middle of November, the Vanderbilts would go to New York for
the opera and social season, staying at their townhouse until the end of
January. On weekends in this period and at Christmas, they usually
returned to Hyde Park, staying in the pavilion after the mansion was
closed up about December 1.

    [Illustration: _The Frederick Vanderbilt townhouse at Fifth Avenue
    and 40th Street, New York City, razed in 1914._ Courtesy Underhill
    Studio, New York.]

March and April were generally spent at Palm Beach, Fla. Here the
Vanderbilts and their guests would cruise on their yacht in southern
waters. For variety they sometimes leased a large estate on the West
Coast, the family making the trip there and back in its private railroad
car. The Vanderbilts would return to Hyde Park about Easter, remaining
until shortly after the Fourth of July. Between then and Labor Day, they
usually went to one of the several summer mansions that they owned at
various times. The first of these was Rough Point, at Newport, R.I. They
also had a retreat which they called their Japanese Camp on Upper St.
Regis Lake in the Adirondacks; it had been built by 15 “expert
mechanics” brought over from Japan. From 1913 until Mrs. Vanderbilt’s
death in 1926, they went to Cornfield, a residence at Bar Harbor, Maine.

Part of the summer might be spent in Europe. The Vanderbilts would cross
the Atlantic on an ocean liner, having sent the yacht on ahead. Then
they would pick up the yacht and cruise along the coast of Europe or in
the Mediterranean. In his later years, Vanderbilt spent much of his time
at Hyde Park, but would make an occasional summer trip on his yacht.

    [Illustration: _Frederick W. Vanderbilt in his later years._]

                     _Society in the Hudson Valley_

There were several reasons why so many men of wealth chose the Hudson
River Valley as the locale for their country estates. Scenic charm at a
convenient distance from New York City attracted some. Others, like
Vanderbilt, found the rolling countryside ideal for the pursuit of
interests in purebred livestock and in horticulture.

Two events of great interest to these gentleman farmers were held each
autumn. There was keen competition among them at the annual flower show
of the Dutchess Horticultural Society in the State Armory at
Poughkeepsie, and at the Dutchess County Fair, originally held at
Poughkeepsie, and after 1919 at Rhinebeck. Vanderbilt always came away
with his share of prizes for his plants and flowers, and for his garden
produce, Belgian horses, and Jersey cattle.

For the sports-minded, the Hudson River provided both active and
spectator events. Vanderbilt was a member of the Hudson River Yacht
Club, some of whose members also enjoyed ice yachting on the frozen
river. Sharing in this thrilling pastime were Archibald Rogers, John A.
and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Samuel B. Sexton, Edward Wales, and Thomas

    [Illustration: _The barns on the Vanderbilt estate, now privately

A spring attraction that appealed to many of the Dutchess County
residents was the college regatta held each year on the Hudson at
Poughkeepsie. Vanderbilt was a regular contributor to this rowing event.
The presence of his yacht in the spectator line was frequently mentioned
in the papers.

The Vanderbilts enjoyed winter sports during their weekend visits at the
pavilion. Their particular delight was sleighing. On a crisp winter day,
the Post Road would be alive with handsome turnouts and highstepping
horses. The air would then ring with the sound of sleighbells as the
wealthy Hyde Parkers dashed about the snow-covered highways.

Spring and autumn found the members of the Dutchess Hunt Club riding to
the hounds on their swiftest horses. All the fine livery of a pageant
brightened these occasions.

Leading all other events for color and magnificence at the Hyde Park
estates were the weekend house parties. The guest lists on these
occasions included European nobility, and leaders in the fields of
business, politics, and the arts.

Those invited to Vanderbilt Mansion were accommodated in lavishly
appointed guest rooms, all of them furnished in 18th-century French
style. Each room had its distinct color scheme, with the motif carried
into the bathroom accessories. When the number of guests exceeded the
number of guest rooms in the mansion, the overflow was housed in the

    [Illustration: _Blue room, largest of the guest rooms._]

    [Illustration: _Dining room, family table at far end._]

    [Illustration: _Drawing room._]

Guests had the option of having breakfast in their rooms. The food would
be served on special breakfast sets that matched the color scheme of the
rooms. Those who preferred eating in the dining room found the small
family table at the east end of the room covered with a white cloth and
set with red china. In the center was a large swivel tray, or Lazy
Susan, containing coffee and food for the meal. Guests were expected to
seat themselves, turn the tray, and choose from it whatever they wished.
If anyone was late, fresh coffee and warm food were brought up from the
kitchen and placed on the tray.

When luncheon was served for the family or intimate friends, the small
table was again used. If a formal luncheon was being served, the larger
table in the center of the room, which could seat up to 30 people, would
be set.

Details for formal affairs were arranged weeks in advance by Mrs.
Vanderbilt with her cooks, butlers, and gardeners to avoid last-minute
slip-ups. On such occasions, the hostess made it a point to blend the
color of the flowers, the cloth, and the china. Thus, if yellow flowers
were being used, the lace cloth would have a yellow satin undercover.
The centerpiece might be an inlaid gold mirror and gilt vase, filled
with fresh yellow roses. Scattered about the table would be six or eight
smaller gold vases of flowers. The service would be gold-plated, and the
china would be white, with a gold stripe and the family monogram in the

The courses served at such a luncheon included hors d’œuvres, and an egg
dish, followed by an entree. The main course would be a choice of
chicken, turkey, or game. This was followed by an elaborate dessert,
with cakes, fruits, and candies.

The family and intimate friends took their afternoon tea in the library.
On more formal occasions, tea was served in the drawing room. Guests
gathered in the gold room for sherry before dinner.

The color of the flowers, cloth, and china would again be blended for
dinner. A monogrammed cloth covered the large table on the occasion of a
formal dinner. The centerpiece might be a large silver bowl, a yachting
trophy, filled with pink flowers, on a silver tray. Candelabra, fruit
and bon-bon dishes, and the flatware would also be of silver. China
would be of a fine Italian variety, engraved with pink flowers. Courses
for a formal supper included soup, fish, and an entree. The main course
was a choice of game, meat, or fowl. This was followed by dessert,
fruit, and candies.

When finished at table, the ladies retired to the drawing room, where
demitasse and liqueur were served. The gentlemen remained in the dining
room for coffee, liqueur, and cigars. In about half an hour they would
join the ladies in the drawing room for cards or other amusements.

Sometimes dinner was followed by a formal dance held in the drawing
room. House guests were joined by other guests, neighbors, and their
visitors. Music was furnished by an orchestra from New York City, and
the dancing stopped promptly at midnight on a Saturday evening.

                       _Operation of the Estate_

The immensity of the Vanderbilt estate at Hyde Park can best be gaged by
realizing that at one time there were more than 60 full-time employees,
directed by the estate superintendent. Of this number, 17 were employed
in the house, 2 in the pavilion, and 44 on the grounds and farm—13 men
cared for the gardens and lawns alone. When there were guests in the
pavilion, additional cooks and maids were engaged from Hyde Park.

The fine herd of 24 Jersey cattle and the 15 Belgian draft horses
maintained on the farm were all of the best breeding and show stock, as
were the more than 2,000 white leghorn chickens and the Berkshire pigs.
Entered in competition at the Dutchess County Fair, the animals took
many honors. But they served a utilitarian purpose as well. Chickens
supplied all of the eggs used in the kitchens, and non-layers were
killed for table use. Cows furnished milk, and sweet butter was churned
once a week. Pigs were slaughtered for meat. These products supplied
both the mansion and the townhouse in New York City. The draft horses
were used in farm work.

    [Illustration: _Vanderbilt coach house and stable._]

    [Illustration: _Mrs. Frederick W. Vanderbilt._]

In the era before the automobile, Vanderbilt’s entire stable of carriage
horses usually arrived at Hyde Park from New York each year about May 1.
Here they were stabled until about December 1, when they were returned
to the city for the winter season in a special railroad car.

The vegetable gardens supplied fresh produce for mansion and townhouse.
The quality of the produce must have been excellent, for year after year
top honors at the Dutchess County Fair went to the estate superintendent
for the 10 best varieties of vegetables grown by a professional
gardener—and this in competition with entries from other great estates
in the county.

The gardens and greenhouses supplied flowers for the mansion, and when
the Vanderbilts were in residence at their townhouse in New York, fresh
flowers were shipped there twice each week. Flowers were also sent twice
a week to the hospitals in Poughkeepsie for distribution among the
patients. In addition, the Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, and Rogers greenhouses
supplied the lilies, palms, and other flowers to decorate the four
churches of Hyde Park for Easter services.

All electricity for the estate was generated at the powerhouse, located
on Crum Elbow Creek near the White Bridge. Wood for the fireplaces was
cut on the estate, and the icehouses were filled from the ponds.

             _The Vanderbilts and the People of Hyde Park_

The great estates along the Hudson played an important role in the
economy of the small communities nearby. Employment was provided for
many residents, and the wealthy owners took a benevolent interest and
provided a guiding hand in the affairs and welfare of the villages. The
Vanderbilts may be cited as typical examples, and in the finest

Mrs. Vanderbilt knew personally almost every person living in Hyde Park.
Her employees, as well as the doctors and ministers of the community,
kept her informed of events taking place there. They told her of those
in difficulty; Mrs. Vanderbilt then visited the family named. If there
was illness, she called in a doctor and nurses; if there was poverty,
she sent coal and groceries. Those suffering from tuberculosis she sent
to Saranac Lake and took care of all expenses herself.

    [Illustration:            _Vanderbilt Mansion_
                             NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
                              HYDE PARK, NEW YORK
                                                    MAY 1960 NH5-VM-7000]

  Note: Estate Boundary extended about ¾ mile east at the time of Mr.
  Vanderbilt’s death in 1938.


She was interested in young people and saw to it that they had
facilities for learning the domestic and industrial arts in the local
school. For young men 13 and older, she organized and maintained a
completely equipped clubroom in the village. For the young women in whom
Mrs. Vanderbilt took a personal interest, she furnished funds for their
complete education.

Each summer Mrs. Vanderbilt gave the school children of Hyde Park either
a strawberry and ice cream festival or a cruise on the Hudson on a
chartered steamer. Sometimes she joined forces with other wealthy
residents and invited all the citizens of the town for a steamer cruise
on the river; on one occasion this involved more than 700 people.

Through the Sunday Schools of the village, she arranged for each child
to have needed clothes and toys at Christmas. And on Christmas day she
would drive through the village in a sleigh loaded with gifts that she
handed out to the children she met.

A reading room attached to St. James Chapel was established and
maintained by Mrs. Vanderbilt for the people of the village. She was
also responsible for bringing the Red Cross movement to Hyde Park in
1911; and in 1917, she was a prime mover in the establishment of the
District Health Nurse Service.

With the outbreak of World War I, the Vanderbilts, James Roosevelt (a
half brother of Franklin D. Roosevelt), and Thomas Newbold equipped,
clothed, and armed for a 2-year period a Hyde Park Home Defense Company
of 65 men. The Vanderbilts also arranged educational lectures, bringing
to the townhall eminent authorities on various subjects. In 1920,
Vanderbilt and Archibald Rogers jointly donated the money for a motion
picture projector, thus bringing the first movies to Hyde Park. Other
community projects drew Vanderbilt’s support, including an $18,000
donation for Hyde Park’s first stone bridge over Crum Elbow Creek on the
Albany Post Road, just north of the village.

For their employees, the Vanderbilts sponsored a baseball team that, in
its day, was one of the finest in the valley. Holiday parties for
children and adults were held each year. Mrs. Vanderbilt sometimes
visited the parties in person, mingling freely with the guests. Gifts to
employees were the custom at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

                     _Early History of the Estate_

The history of the 211-acre grounds surrounding the Vanderbilt Mansion
goes back much further than that of the house.

    [Illustration: _Pierre (Peter) Fauconnier._]

    [Illustration: _Dr. John Bard._]

On April 18, 1705, Peter Fauconnier and three other men were granted a
patent for 3,600 acres of scenic land on the east side of the Hudson
River. Fauconnier had fled his native France as a religious exile,
arriving in America by way of England. Here he became secretary to
Edward Hyde, Viscount Cornbury, Governor of the Province of New York,
who signed the patent papers in the name of Her Majesty Queen Anne. The
land was divided among the grantees; Fauconnier’s portion, undeveloped
in his lifetime, appears to have passed at his death to his daughter,
Magdalene Valleau. Mrs. Valleau sold her interest in the patent to her
son-in-law, Dr. John Bard, who later purchased the entire patent.

The name Hyde Park was applied to the patent lands. Perhaps Fauconnier
gave the name to his share out of respect for the Governor and it later
extended to the holdings of Dr. Bard; or possibly the name came into use
during the years of estate development by the Bard family. At any rate,
the town of Hyde Park, established in 1821, took its name from the

Dr. Bard, noted physician and pioneer in hygiene, had his first house
built on the property about 1764. He continued to maintain his principal
residence in New York City until about 1772, when he moved to Hyde Park.
A new house, which he called the Red House, was built just north of the
present St. James Episcopal Church, opposite the north gate of the
National Historic Site. He disposed of approximately 1,500 acres of the
land, and developed the remainder as his estate.

    [Illustration: _Dr. Samuel Bard._]

    [Illustration: _Dr. David Hosack._]

After the Revolution, Dr. Bard returned to private practice in New York
City where he assisted his son, Dr. Samuel Bard, as attending physician
to President George Washington. The elder Bard retired again to Hyde
Park in 1798. Before his death a year later, the property was
transferred to his son.

Dr. Samuel Bard built a house at Hyde Park in 1795, the first to stand
on the site of Vanderbilt Mansion. A large house on the high elevation
rising about 300 feet above the Hudson, it commanded a superb view of
the river and of the mountains beyond. A garden was laid out on the land
west of the Albany Post Road, and by 1820 a greenhouse, said to have
been the first one in Dutchess County, was erected. In addition to his
interest in trees and improvement of the grounds, Dr. Samuel Bard
undertook experiments in horticulture and farming. He imported fruits
from England, France, and Italy, and vines from Madeira. The Society of
Dutchess County for the Promotion of Agriculture made him its first
president in 1806. In this position he encouraged the use of clover as a
crop and gypsum as a fertilizer. Dr. Samuel Bard lived at Hyde Park
until his death in 1821 at the age of 79. His death followed within 24
hours that of his wife, Mary.

    [Illustration: _Map of the Hyde Park Patent, about 3,600 acres,
    showing land sales made by Dr. John Bard and Dr. Samuel Bard. In the
    time of Vanderbilt the estate comprised approximately the tracts
    labeled “Dr. David Hosack” and “Magdalene Hosack.” The National
    Historic Site comprises the land owned by Vanderbilt west of the
    Post Road and fronting the Hudson River._]

    [Illustration: _Walter Langdon, Jr._]

Their only surviving son, William Bard, inherited Hyde Park which had
been reduced by land sales to 540 acres. He lived there only until 1828,
when he sold the estate to Dr. David Hosack of New York City. A former
professor of natural history at Columbia College, Dr. Hosack had become
a partner of Dr. Samuel Bard and had taken over the latter’s medical
practice when he retired.

Dr. Hosack spent vast sums of money for the improvement of his property.
He was to create the first of the great Hudson Valley estates.

Deeply interested in botany, he revived horticultural experimentation
and gardening at Hyde Park. Many of the rare specimens that today grace
the lawns and gardens probably date from the period immediately
following Dr. Hosack’s acquisition of the estate. Andre Parmentier, a
Belgian landscape gardener, was engaged to lay out roads, walks, and
scenic vistas.

In 1829, under the guidance of Martin E. Thompson of the architectural
firm of Town and Thompson, Dr. Hosack remodeled and enlarged the house
built by Dr. Samuel Bard in 1795. A new carriage house and gate lodges
were also designed and constructed.

The new beauty of the Hyde Park estate carried its fame throughout this
country and to Europe. Many notables came to Hyde Park to visit Dr.
Hosack and to enjoy the scene. Among them were Philip Hone, diarist and
former Mayor of New York; Washington Irving, noted author; the poet
Fitz-Greene Halleck; Jared Sparks, American historian and editor of the
North American Review; Capt. Thomas Hamilton, British novelist and
adventurer; Harriet Martineau; Dr. James Thacher, physician and
biographer; and the young English artist Thomas Kelah Wharton, who made
several engravings of the estate.

In 1840, some 5 years after Dr. Hosack’s death, John Jacob Astor bought
the mansion tract, containing about 125 acres of land west of the Albany
Post Road. Astor almost immediately made a gift of this purchase to his
daughter Dorothea Langdon and her five children. One of her sons, Walter
Langdon, Jr., eventually bought out the property interests of his
mother, sisters, and brothers, and by 1852 had become sole owner.

    [Illustration: _Gardener’s cottage._]

The handsome house originally built by Dr. Samuel Bard, then enlarged by
Dr. Hosack, was completely destroyed by fire in June 1845. A new mansion
was built on the site of the destroyed house in 1847. By 1872, Langdon
had reunited the farmland east of the Post Road through purchase. In
October of that year, fire destroyed the splendid barns that had been
Dr. Hosack’s pride. Three years later, Langdon built the gardener’s
cottage and toolhouse, the only buildings still standing that antedate
the Vanderbilt era. Until late in life, the Langdons spent much of their
time in Europe, and the Hyde Park mansion was closed for years. In 1882,
however, Langdon returned to Hyde Park, living there the life of a
country gentleman. There were no surviving children when he died in 1894
at the age of 72. When Hyde Park was offered for sale the next year,
Frederick W. Vanderbilt purchased it.

    [Illustration: _Tool house._]

                      _Description of the Mansion_

Vanderbilt Mansion was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White in
1896-98 in an Italian Renaissance style then popular with that firm. The
mansion has about 50 rooms on 4 levels, including servants’ quarters and
utility features like the kitchen and laundry. The entire construction
of concrete and steel, faced with cut stone, is fireproof—except for the
interior paneled walls and the furnishings.

                              FIRST FLOOR

                       _Main Entrance Vestibule._

This is a small, high-ceilinged room that leads from the imposing front
portico of the mansion to the reception hall. It is without distinctive
furnishings except for a pair of large Mediterranean green-glazed
pottery jars.

    [Illustration: _Library and family living room._]

                           _Reception Hall._

Green and white marble imported from Italy is used with arresting effect
for cornices and pilasters in this elliptically shaped room. Above the
massive fireplace, which came from an Italian palace, is a Flemish
tapestry bearing the insignia of the famous Italian Medici family of
Renaissance times. In the center of the room is a French table with a
porphyry top; upon it is a French clock with a matching porphyry base.
Around the walls are high-backed Italian throne chairs. Two French
Renaissance cabinets, in tooled walnut, stand at either side of the
doorway. A pair of busts, male and female, are of Carrara marble. Many
of these pieces are hundreds of years old.


Woodwork is Santo Domingo mahogany. Plates on the wall are Chinese, and
a painting by the French artist, Lesrel, hangs over the desk. Above the
fireplace, early Italian and Spanish flintlock pistols are grouped about
an old Flemish clock. A hand-carved Renaissance panel forms the back of
the desk chair. In the bookcase are about 400 volumes, mostly fiction
and travel. Included among these are the college textbooks that
Frederick Vanderbilt used at Yale. From this room Vanderbilt conducted
his estate affairs, such as tree culture and the operation of the
greenhouses, gardens, and his 350-acre dairy and stock farm across the

    [Illustration: _Drawing room, northwest corner._]


This room reflects the work of decorator Georges A. Glaenzer of New York
City. Hand-carved wood on the walls was done by Swiss artists brought to
this country for that purpose. A vaulted section of the ceiling is
molded plaster, made to simulate carved wood. The carved mantel of the
fireplace is said to have come from a European church. A porcelain
clock-and-candelabra set on the mantel was a gift from Mrs. Vanderbilt’s
mother. Guns on the wall opposite the fireplace are antique Swiss wheel
locks. More than 900 volumes on history, literature, natural science,
and other subjects fill the bookcases in this room. This library was the
family living room. Here the Vanderbilts and their intimate friends
gathered for tea in the afternoon. Mrs. Vanderbilt used the table in
this room to write letters to her friends. Frederick Vanderbilt’s
favorite chair stands near a large window overlooking the grounds.

    [Illustration: _Gold room or French salon._]

                             _South Foyer._

On one of the venerable Italian dower chests in this room is a model of
Vanderbilt’s yacht, _Warrior_. On the other chest is a small bronze
group depicting a Russian winter scene. Above the chests are two
16th-century Brussels tapestries showing incidents in the Trojan War. By
the chests are a pair of Venetian torcheres and two small bronze chateau

                            _Drawing Room._

Furniture in this room is predominantly French, except for two Italian
refectory tables and a number of Chinese lamps. Two of these lamps have
silk shades with hand-painted designs copied from the bases; this touch
of luxury is repeated in other rooms, notably in Frederick Vanderbilt’s
bedroom. The grand piano, an American Steinway, was decorated in Paris
in goldleaf with the medallions of noted composers, it was originally
used in the home of Vanderbilt’s father in New York City.
Seventeenth-century Florentine tapestries on the end walls bear the coat
of arms of the Medici family. Two 16th-century Brussels tapestries with
more scenes from the Trojan War flank the doorway. Wall paneling is
Circassian walnut. Twin fireplaces are Italian marble. As it now
appears, this room represents the design of architect Whitney Warren,
who redecorated the room in 1906. The original ceiling mural by H.
Siddon Mowbray was removed at that time.

French doors open to a porch from which a path led to the Italian
gardens. Formal entertaining in this room might include tea,
after-dinner coffee, games of whist, and, on special occasions, a spring
or autumn dance.

                              _Gold Room._

This French salon was designed by Georges A. Glaenzer after an
18th-century French drawing room. An inlaid tulipwood desk is Louis XV.
A standing clock, made by Paul Sormani is a copy of one in the Louvre.
One of the inset wall panels contains an Aubusson tapestry; two other
panels (one above the marble fireplace) contain large mirrors which,
reflecting in one another, provide a striking repetition of mirrors to
infinity. As is evident from its gilded appearance, goldleaf was not
spared in the room’s decoration. Here guests would gather for sherry
before dinner.

                             _North Foyer._

In this room is a large Florentine storage chest of hand-carved wood,
decorated with goldleaf and lacquer. Above the chest is a 17th-century
Brussels tapestry. On the opposite wall is an 18th-century Aubusson
tapestry. Overhead is a Venetian lantern matching the one in the south
foyer. In one corner is a large Chinese bowl with blue-dragon design
against a white background; it rests on a Chinese teakwood stand.

    [Illustration: _Dining room._]

                             _Dining Room._

This room is 30 by 50 feet. Its floor is covered by a huge Oriental
(Ispahan) rug which measures 20 by 40 feet and is more than 300 years
old. Furniture is a reproduction of Louis XIV period. The large dining
table could be extended to seat 30 people. A smaller table at the east
end of the room was used by the Vanderbilts when dining alone or with a
few intimate friends. At such meals, Frederick Vanderbilt always sat on
the south side of the table with Mrs. Vanderbilt opposite him on the
north side. Across the room from the doorway are two 18th-century
planetaria, made in London—instruments used for the study of the sun and
planets. On the walls on either side of the door are a pair of French
17th-century tapestries, believed to be of Beauvais manufacture.
Florentine chairs around the walls and two carved Renaissance mantels
all emphasize the spaciousness of the room. Hand-painted and gilt panels
decorate the ceiling. Two marble columns of the Ionic order flank the
doorway, matching those in the drawing room. All original marble work in
the mansion was done by Robert C. Fisher and Company, of New York City,
then one of the largest importers of marble in the world.

    [Illustration: _Grand stairway._ Courtesy The New York Times

The hostess made it a point to blend the color of the flowers, the
cloth, and the china. If yellow flowers were being used, the lace cloth
would have a yellow undercover, the service would be gold-plated, and
the china would be white with a gold stripe.

                             GRAND STAIRWAY

On the wall opposite the foot of the stairway is an 18th-century Flemish
tapestry. The floor in the lower-stair hall is old Italian marble. A
chair and marble fernery are Italian, and a large Chinese bowl of the
Ming Dynasty is about 500 years old. Italian busts and statues occupy
niches along the way. At one of the landings is a painting by the French
artist, Adrien Moreau. An early 18th-century Beauvais tapestry hangs on
the second-floor wall.

                              SECOND FLOOR

                             _North Foyer._

On a Louis XVI table stands an incense burner fashioned of marble and
cloisonne. Overhead is a chandelier of beaded crystal; one of similar
design is in the south foyer. Hanging here are original paintings by the
19th-century artists, Schreyer, Bougereau, and Villegas. Frederick
Vanderbilt was more noted for the fine tapestries he collected than for
outstanding paintings.

                              _Blue Room._

This is the largest of the guest rooms. Mrs. James Van Alen, the niece
of Mrs. Vanderbilt who donated the mansion to the Federal Government,
used this room during her visits to the Vanderbilts. The windows of this
room command a splendid view of the Hudson and the mountains beyond. A
white onyx French clock and companion pieces adorn the mantel, and a
rare old (Ghiordes) prayer rug is spread before the fireplace.

Common to all guestrooms is the 18th-century French style of furniture
and the use of a distinct color scheme. The guestrooms, unless otherwise
noted, are believed to reflect the design of New York decorator Ogden

                             _Mauve Room._

Most of the furnishings in this room are of French design. In the center
of the room is a finely woven Persian dower rug. Pieces on the mantel
are of the French Empire period. Each guestroom has a bath and one or
more closets. The bathroom accessories always matched the color scheme
of the guestroom.

                          _Second Floor Hall._

In 1906, architect Whitney Warren installed the balustrade which now
overlooks the reception hall.

    [Illustration: _Second floor hall._]

In the second floor hall are three 18th-century Flemish tapestries, two
Italian fringed and embroidered hangings draped over the balustrade, and
two sets of matched high-backed chairs in walnut—one set of six chairs,
one of four. A teakwood cabinet is of Chinese design.

                              _Red Rooms._

These rooms open onto the second floor hall and are connected by a
doorway to form a two-room suite. Furnishings are in the French style. A
frieze on a Greek subject embellishes the 18th-century English Georgian
mantel in the larger room.

                             _South Foyer._

This leads to the master bedrooms. French doors can be closed to
separate this wing from the rest of the second floor. In the foyer are
paintings by Kellar-Reutlingen and Firman-Girard.

                     _Frederick Vanderbilt’s Room._

This room has carved woodwork of Circassian walnut. The bed and dresser
were designed as part of the woodwork and were installed by Norcross
Brothers. The room was designed by Georges A. Glaenzer. The walls and
doors are covered with 17th-century Flemish tapestry. Hand-painted
designs on the silk lampshades match those on the Chinese bases. The
fireplace has a large carved mantel. On the floors are dark-red rugs
made in India.

    [Illustration: _Frederick Vanderbilt’s room. Note tapestried

    [Illustration: _Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom._ Courtesy The New York
    Times Studio.]

                       _Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Room._

In this room, as in the Gold Room downstairs, there was an attempt at
accurate reproduction. This room, designed by Ogden Codman, is a
reproduction of a French queen’s bedroom of the Louis XV period. The bed
is surrounded by a rail. (In French practice, courtiers gathered around
the rail for morning levees.) The wall at the head of the bed is covered
with hand-embroidered silk. Other walls are wood paneled and inset with
French paintings. The heavily napped rug was made especially for this
room; it weighs 2,300 pounds. Furniture is French 18th-century. Created
by Paul Sormani, it is modeled on Louis XV period pieces. A curio case
in front of the bedrail contains French fans and inside the rail is a
prayer table and kneeling cushion.

    [Illustration: _Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bed._]

    [Illustration: _Empire room._]


Adjoining the bedroom is the boudoir, furnished in the same motif.
Notable pieces include a Dresden chandelier-and-candelabra set.

                              THIRD FLOOR

The third floor, which is closed to visitors, is divided into two
sections; one contains five more guestrooms, and the other the servants’
quarters. The third floor guestrooms are as elaborate as any on the
second floor and consist of the Pink Room, with white painted
furniture—often used by Frederick Vanderbilt in the winter; the Little
Mauve Room, furnished with oak furniture; the Empire Room, with French
Empire period furniture and satin-covered walls to match the covering on
the furniture and bed; and the White Room, with white furniture, drapes,
and upholstery.

Female employees of the mansion were quartered in the servants’ rooms on
the third floor. In addition to the housekeeper’s suite of two rooms,
there were single rooms for seven maids, two cooks, and a kitchen girl,
and a room for sewing and pressing. The maids’ rooms are, of course,
simpler in decoration and furnishings than the guestrooms.

When the nine guestrooms in the mansion could not accommodate everyone
present, the pavilion was used as a guesthouse.

                        BASEMENT OF THE MANSION

The basement contains the rooms that were used by male employees of the
mansion. There were single rooms for the three butlers, a room for
visiting valets, and a room for the day and night men. In addition there
were four storage rooms, two laundry rooms, a pressing room, a wine
cellar, and an ice room. The kitchen was located under the dining room.
Food prepared here was lifted via a large dumbwaiter to the butler’s
pantry on the first floor, then carried from there into the dining room,
where it was served. The servants’ hall, used as a recreation and dining
room by the servants, was also located in the basement.

                      _Description of the Grounds_


For almost two centuries these grounds have been part of country estates
owned by influential and wealthy men. The magnificent specimen trees
which they planted here may be ranked as a feature of interest second
only to the mansion itself. Approximately two score species and
varieties are represented, many of them from Europe and Asia.

Trees of foreign origin include European ash, European beech, English
elm, Norway spruce, Norway maple, the red-leaved Japanese maple, and a
ginkgo, or Chinese maidenhair-tree. This ginkgo is among the largest of
that species in the United States.

Among the native American trees represented are sugar maple, flowering
dogwood, eastern hemlock, Kentucky coffeetree, white oak, black oak,
eastern white pine, and blue spruce. Other fine examples of their kind
include large beeches, bur oak, and a great cucumber magnolia. Many of
these trees are labeled.


Designed by McKim, Mead, and White, this building was erected by
Norcross Brothers in 66 working days, September 8 to November 24, 1895,
on the site of the old Langdon carriage house. Cost of the structure
probably exceeded $50,000. The pavilion was used by the Vanderbilts
during the construction and furnishing of the mansion, and, later, on
weekends in the winter season when they came to Hyde Park for winter
sports. The pavilion was also used to house the overflow of guests from
the mansion.

The pavilion represents an adaption of classic Greek architecture.
Certain liberties have been taken in the interest of functional
arrangement, such as the placement of window openings and modifications
necessary for the captain’s walk on the roof. The result is a pleasing
combination of classic form and informal detail.

    [Illustration: _Ginkgo, or Chinese maidenhair-tree._]

                  _Gardener’s Cottage and Tool House._

These two buildings, located south of the mansion, are the only
structures on the estate that antedate the Vanderbilt era. Walter
Langdon had them built in 1875 according to the design of John H.
Sturgis and Charles Brigham, architects of Boston, Mass. Neither
building is open to the public.

                         _The Italian Gardens._

These gardens, which lay south of the mansion, may possibly date back as
far as Dr. Samuel Bard’s era in 1795. They certainly existed in 1830 as
a part of Dr. David Hosack’s estate, and the later owner, Walter
Langdon, continued to maintain them. Landscape architect James L.
Greenleaf radically revised and enlarged the gardens in 1902-3 for
Frederick Vanderbilt.

The gardens thus represent several periods of development. They were
divided into three units: The greenhouse gardens, the cherry walk and
pool gardens, and the rose garden. The first of these consisted of three
separate parterre gardens within a rectangle framed on the west by the
rose and palm houses and on the north by the toolhouse, carnation house,
and gardener’s cottage. The cherry walk and pool gardens were located
east of this group at a lower level, and progressed from the pergola to
the garden house. The rose garden, still further east, had two terraces
and contained panel beds.

                  _North Drive and North (Exit) Gate._

The land north of the pavilion was added to the estate in 1905. From the
north drive are unsurpassed views of the Hudson, the Shawangunk Range to
the west, and the Catskill Mountains to the north. The north gate was
erected in 1906. Directly opposite, on the east side of the Albany Post
Road, are the Vanderbilt barns, built in 1901. This part of the estate
is now in private ownership.

                 _Main (Entrance) Gate and Gatehouse._

These structures date from 1898 and again represent the combination of
McKim, Mead, and White-Norcross Brothers. The gatehouse is still used as
a residence and is closed to the public.

    [Illustration: _Main gatehouse._]

                            _White Bridge._

This bridge over Crum Elbow Creek was designed and constructed in 1897
by the New York City engineering firm of W. T. Hiscox and Company. A
Melan arch bridge, it was one of the first steel and concrete bridges in
the United States.

    [Illustration: _River gatehouse._]

                      _River Gate and Gatehouse._

The carriage road and Crum Elbow Creek proceed southward, ending near
the Hyde Park railroad station at the Hudson River. Near this point is
the river gate and gate lodge. These were designed by McKim, Mead, and
White, and constructed by Norcross Brothers in 1898. The gatehouse is
still used as a residence and is closed to the public.

                           _The Coach Home._

Located on the river hill, a short distance east (or above) the river
gate, is the coach house. It was designed by the New York City
architect, R. H. Robertson, and erected by Norcross Brothers in 1897. In
1910, R. H. Robertson altered the coach house so it could also be used
as a garage.

    (Based on Andrews, _Vanderbilt Legend_, p. 79)]

  CORNELIUS VANDERBILT I (1794-1877), “The Commodore”
    m. Sophia Johnson
    m. (2) Frank Crawford (_no children_)
      3 other sons
      8 daughters
      WILLIAM HENRY I (1821-1885)
        m. Maria Louisa Kissam
          4 daughters
          Cornelius II (1843-1899)
            m. Alice Gwynne
              Cornelius III (The General)
                m. Grace Wilson
                  Cornelius IV (_Author and journalist_)
                m. Harry P. Whitney
                  C. V. Whitney
              Reginald Claypole
                m. Cathleen Neilson
                m. (2) Gloria Morgan
                  Gloria Vanderbilt
              Gladys Moore (_The Breakers_)
                m. Count Laszlo Szechenyi
                  5 daughters
              Alfred Gwynne I (_went down on the Lusitania, 1915_)
                m. Elsie French
                  William Henry III (_Former Governor of Rhode Island_)
                m. (2) Margaret E. McKim
                  Alfred Gwynne (_President of Belmont Park_)
                  George Washington III
          FREDERICK WILLIAM (1856-1938)
            m. Louise Anthony Torrance (_no children_)
          George Washington II (1862-1914) (Biltmore)
            m. Edith Stuyvesant Dresser
                m. Hon. John Francis Amherst Cecil
                  George Harry Vanderbilt Cecil
                  William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil
          William Kissam I (1849-1920)
            m. Alva Smith
            m. (2) Anne H. S. Rutherford (no children)
                m. 9th Duke of Marlborough
                  John, Marquis of Blandford
                  Lord Ivor Charles Spencer-Churchill
                m. (2) Louis-Jacques Balsan
              William Kissam II
                m. Virginia G. Fair
                  William Kissam III
                m. (2) Rose L. Warburton
              Harold Stirling (_Famous yachtsman_)
                m. Gertrude Connaway

                      _Travel Routes to the Site_

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is on the New York-Albany Post
Road, U.S. 9, at the northern edge of Hyde Park, N.Y., about 6 miles
north of Poughkeepsie, N.Y. From New York City, 82 miles away, you can
reach it most conveniently by automobile over the Hendrick Hudson
Parkway, the Saw Mill River Parkway, the Taconic State Parkway, U.S. 55,
and U.S. 9. Approaches from the New York State Throughway and U.S. 9W on
the west side of the Hudson River are by the Mid-Hudson Bridge at
Poughkeepsie, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge at Catskill, or the
Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge at Kingston.

                           _About Your Visit_

You enter the grounds by the main gate on U.S. 9, just north of the
village of Hyde Park. You leave the site by the north drive and gate on
U.S. 9, near St. James Church. The exit drive affords fine views of the
Hudson River and the mountains to the west.

The grounds are open every day from 9 a.m. until dark. You are welcome
to spend as much time as you wish viewing them.

The mansion is open every day during the summer, June 15 through Labor
Day. It is closed Mondays at other seasons, and on Christmas Day.
Visiting hours are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The nominal admission charge
to the mansion does not apply to children under 12, nor to groups of
elementary and high school children, regardless of age, and accompanying
adults who assume responsibility for their safety and orderly conduct.

A self-guided tour system enables you to begin your tour of the mansion
immediately upon arrival. Special guide service for groups may be
arranged in advance through the superintendent.

There are no accommodations for picnicking or dining at the site. These
services are available in the village of Hyde Park and at Norrie State
Park, 4 miles north. Overnight accommodations are available in the

The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, administered
jointly with this site, is 2 miles south of the village of Hyde Park on
U.S. 9. It is open at the same times as Vanderbilt Mansion.

                      _The National Historic Site_

    [Illustration: _View from west lawn across the Hudson._]

When Frederick W. Vanderbilt died in 1938, the Hyde Park estate was
bequeathed to Mrs. James Van Alen, a niece of Mrs. Vanderbilt. Two years
later, Mrs. Van Alen gave the estate to the Federal Government, and on
December 18, 1940, it was designated a National Historic Site. Since
that time it has been administered by the National Park Service, U.S.
Department of the Interior.

A superintendent, whose address is Hyde Park, N.Y., is in immediate
charge. His offices are in the pavilion.

                          _Suggested Readings_

Andrews, Wayne, _The Vanderbilt Legend: The Story of the Vanderbilt
      Family, 1794-1940_. Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York, 1941.

Croffut, W. A., _The Vanderbilts and the Story of Their Fortune_.
      Belford Clarke and Co., Chicago, 1886.

Lane, Wheaton J., _Commodore Vanderbilt: An Epic of the Steam Age_.
      Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1942.

Langstaff, John Brett, _Doctor Bard of Hyde Park: The Famous Physician
      of Revolutionary Times, The Man Who Saved Washington’s Life_. E.
      P. Dutton and Co., Inc., New York, 1942.

Holbrook, Stewart, _Age of the Moguls_. Doubleday and Co., Garden City,
      N.Y., 1953.

                        U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1973 O-517-151

                         NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
                       HISTORICAL HANDBOOK SERIES

                      OFFICE, WASHINGTON 25, D.C.

  Antietam (No. 31), 25 cents
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    [Illustration: Yacht]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Silently corrected a few typos.

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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