Nov 30, 2011

Historic Kykuit

In the early 1900s, the John D. Rockefeller family commissioned society architects Delano & Aldrich to complete a country retreat in New York's Hudson Valley.  The result is Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, a traditionally designed Beaux-Arts manse in Classical Revival Georgian style.  I love this house; you might be able to imagine why...

The impressive Eastern-facing facade is covered in Wisteria vines.  image via Flickr
Entry gate is both stately and imposing.  Note the 1913 demarcation.  image via Hortus2 blog

The back of the house, facing west, with a view of the majestic Hudson River.  image via Flickr

The gardens features some stunning bronze sculptures. image via Westchester Magazine
A study in symmetry, the 6 storey structure draws inspiration from Italian Renaissance and French Norman houses.  Kykuit, pronounced ky-cut and meaning ‘lookout’ in Dutch, was a shining example of Delano & Aldrich's dedication to grandiose scale & form.  The structure took six years to complete, then almost immediately underwent a series of renovations for the family to move in during the spring of 1913 The intricate and immaculate gardens were designed by the landscape architect William Welles Bosworth with input from designer Ogden Codman (who also decorated the interiors).

One of John D. Rockefeller's personal mantras was "Order and Balance."  He was an incredibly gifted businessman who thrived in organized and disciplined environments.  Perhaps this country home served as a balance between the order he so craved and the natural beauty of riverfront nature.

The last family occupant, Nelson Rockefeller,* bequeathed his one-third interest in the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation upon his death in 1979.  Tours are available through the Hudson Valley Historic group. 
image via

image via

image via Erbology

Aerial view of the western edge of the property abutting the Hudson. 
You can spot the Tappan Zee bridge crossing over to Rockland County. image via
image via Victoria Gardens blog
If you have a chance to visit this gem, do so while the Westchester foliage is still hanging in there! 

* Interesting side note via Wiki: "In late 1946, a portion of the estate was proposed as the site of the UN Headquarters, when New York City was trying to beat off strong opposition from Philadelphia and San Francisco and secure the organization. Two of Junior's sons, John D. 3rd and Laurance both offered their estate residences, Rockwood Hall and Fieldwood Farm, respectively, for the site of the building. Junior -- who was living in Kykuit at the time -- although appreciating the generous gesture, vetoed it on the grounds that the estate was simply too isolated from Manhattan. He subsequently sent his second eldest son, Nelson, to buy a proposed 6.9-hectare (17-acre) development site along the East River which he then donated for the headquarters."  Huh.

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