Friday, May 28, 2010

The Last Stop on the Road Trip: "Kykuit" in Pocantico Hills, New York

Kykuit, the Rockefeller Family's palatial estate in New York's Hudson River Valley had not originally been a part of our itinerary but then I saw a sign for it at the side of the highway just as we were about to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson at Tarrytown and remembered reading about the estate in various books. We kept driving at first but then soon decided to turn around and do a bit of unforeseen sightseeing. Originally built by John D. Rockefeller and further developed by his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his grandson Nelson Rockefeller, Kykuit is an example of the Beaux-Arts style of  architecture and landscape architecture. The house was originally built in 1902 and was used as a residence by members of the Rockefeller Family until the 1970s. Built on a hill high above the Hudson - the name Kykuit comes from an archaic Dutch term meaning "lookout" - the mansion enjoys beautiful views over the valley towards the towering cliffs on the other shore and even all the way to Manhattan. The gardens were designed by William Welles Bosworth, who had studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and would later work on restoration projects at Versailles and Fontainebleau.

The entrance front of the house

The view from the main entrance of the house down the drive towards the Oceanus Fountain

Apart from original furniture and decorative features, the house contains an impressive collection of classical and modern art collected by various members of the Rockefeller Family. The grounds, too, are adorned with a wonderful collection of modern sculpture, which works surprisingly well within the frame work of the gardens' classical design.

 A formal walk of linden trees in a vaguely Italianate section of the gardens close to the house; a small Greek temple housing a Venus statue may be glimpsed at the end of the vista

 The central rill in the Italianate section of the garden

 A wrought iron gate

 The brook garden with rock formations, flowering perennials, and shrubbery

 A view of the terraced gardens descending below the house towards the river

 Part of the former swimming pool with its pebble mosaic floor

 A view over the gulf course to the Hudson River and beyond

 A shaded walk at the edge of the rose garden

 Unfortunately the roses had not began to bloom yet but when the rose garden is in flower it must be very beautiful

One of the many varieties of Rhododendron found throughout the grounds

Our tour was well-led and very informative and both the house and the gardens were very impressive. The gardens, in particular, were impeccably maintained, which is not necessarily a given with a lot of historic estates. If you want to know more about Kykuit, you can visit the website of Historic Hudson Valley.


  1. Good grief. I'm trying to calculate how long it would take me to mow all of that. Of course, I'm sure the Rockefellers had minions to do that;) Love the rills, wish I could win the lottery and install one in my yard.

    Christine in Alaska

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog! And for taking me on a walk through such beautiful surroundings!

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