Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Day in the Country

Sunday I had the day to myself so I decided to head up to Tarrytown for the afternoon. My friend Emily had been wanting to tour the Rockefeller residence, Kykuit, so I decided to join her. On Friday, we had signed ourselves up for the 1:00 PM tour so we arrived at the visitor's center to get our tour stickers and board the bus for the 8 minute drive to Kykuit. The reason you have to visit Kykuit by bus as opposed to driving up to the residence yourself is because many of the Rockefeller's still reside on the property. Kykuit is a historic site of the National Trust but there are other properties on the 300+ acres that are still in use.

The property is absolutely stunning. On the tour you start at the outside of the house where you learn a little about the 4 generations that lived there. John D. Rockefeller, Senior was the one who built the property after returning from Ohio where he had founded the Standard Oil Company. Next was John D. Rockefeller Junior and then his son Nelson lived there with his family. They were the last family to reside in the house before it was turned over to the National Trust. You also learn about the original building of the house in 1909 and then the rebuilding of the house in 1913.

Inside the house you see the men and women's parlors, the formal dining room, the music room, the china room, the kitchen, the formal living room, and the basement where Nelson Rockefeller's personal art collection (including Picassos) is housed! Outside you visit the gardens and the veranda, which has the most stunning view of the Hudson River. When you're on the back veranda you can understand where the house gets it's name from. Kykuit means "lookout" in Dutch.

Then after you finish touring the house they bring you down to the Coach Barn where you can see all the different horse-drawn carriages the family owned, where their stables were, as well as the old automobiles that the family owned. The Coach Barn is impressive in it's own right!

It's funny because when you read books that take place in New York City at the turn of the century you read about wealthy people having "country houses" in nearby towns such as Tarrytown, NY (a mere 35 minutes away by train - granted it probably took them longer back then!) When I was living in NJ growing up I used to think it was hysterical that people had "country houses" so close to where they actually resided permanently. However, now with the perspective of someone who lives in Manhattan, I can completely understand. I kept turning to Emily during our tour, especially when we were wandering in the gardens and out on the veranda, saying how refreshing it was to be out in Tarrytown for a day and that I felt as if I was spending the day in the country! It's amazing how your perspective on things can change once you actually experience living in Manhattan.

It was an incredibly peaceful day "out in the country" for me! I would definitely recommend this tour for people who are visiting NYC and have the time. Tarrytown in its own right is an absolutely adorable little town, with cute shops and restaurants. With Kykuit being only one of the many houses & properties worth touring in the area. Click here to learn more about the Hudson Valley region. I know that I plan on spending a couple of more days exploring the "country" during my time in NYC.

1 comment:

meghan said...

Beth!!! love your journal. i will send you comments all the time.