Located just two miles from Franklin Roosevelt's presidential libaray, the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is one of the area's oldest Hudson River estates.
The 54-room Classical-style mansion was built in 1898 by Frederick William Vanderbilt, a grandson of
“Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt—the shipping and railroad magnate and richest man in America during his
lifetime. One of eight heirs to his family’s fortune, Frederick purchased the property in 1895 and hired Charles McKim
(of McKim, Mead and White, then the country’s leading architecture firm) to fashion a “country house” in which
the family could entertain guests during the spring and fall.
the 54-room, gilded-age stone mansion is a Beaux-Arts conflation of a neo-Classical exterior and American Renaissance interior, surrounded by formal Italianate gardens. The limestone façade features columns on all four sides.
Stanford White himself scoured Europe for antiques to decorate the mansion,and which are intact and include an antique carved and painted Venetian ceiling, 15th century Flemish tapestries, Ming vases, Renaissance chairs, and 16th century Florentine chests. Landscaped grounds feature a formal terraced garden, expansive lawns, carriage roads, and a three-mile-long riverside hiking trail.
Vanderbilt also used the property as a “gentleman’s farm,” often spending hours among its gardens and specimen trees.
Entering the property,
the winding driveway speaks of the mansion's "Gilded Age" history.
Today's Visitor's Center is the "cottage" the Vanderbilts lived in so they could oversee the mansion's 26-month's construction.
A short walk takes you to the 50,000-plus square foot home.
North and south end extensions had identical exteriors
The rear columned porch overlooked the Hudson River
The Vanderbilts used their Hyde Park mansion spring and fall only, traveling to their Newport, Long Island and New York City homes during other seasons. When in residence, as many as 66 servants provided for the owner's every need and whim. However, their staff was treated extremely well, some receiving 12-month's of pay although only working part of the year, their children's educations and their health care needs being funded by the Vanderbilts.
An invitation to the mansion meant the guests (typically no more than 8-10 at a time) were the elite of the upper crust. Formality was first and foremost. Ladies might need to change clothes 5 time every day and men 3 or 4 times. Seating at the dinner table
was based on one's standing, with those closest to the Vanderbilts the most elite among the rich.
Men's Smoking Room
Ladies Parlor – French-themed
First Floor Bathroom
Thick First Floor Doors
Staircase (and statues) to the Second Floor
Frederick Vanderbilt's Bedroom
Louise Holmes Anthony Vanderbilt's Bedroom and Dressing Room
Married Couples' Guest Rooms
Single Women's Guest Rooms – Single Men were provided Rooms in the Cottage or Off-site
With no children, when Frederick and Louise died, the property was left to their niece, Margaret Louise, Van Allen who, at the suggestion of her neighbor, Franklin Roosevelt, donated it to the National Park Service for $1.00!