Hudson River Valley

Historic Mansions

The Hudson Valley has always attracted the extremely wealthy. The Manhattan monied class migrated upriver in the 19th century to build great estates along the Hudson's east bank, on"Millionaires' Row." Many of the estates are open to the public today, and attract active travelers to their artfully designed outdoor spaces, hiking trails, forests, gardens and river views. These properties are under the ownership of private preservation foundations, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the State of New York or the National Park Service. Biking is a great way to get from one estate to the next — many are within just a few miles of each other.

Look around carefully as you tour the Hudson Valley; you'll see other great estates. Some are still in private ownership and others were auctioned and converted by new owners into hospitals, schools or religious institutions.

Many original owners used the enormous country homes only in summer or autumn, spending the winter in New York City. The Valley is still home to well-to-do and influential people. But the Hudson lost its cachet early in the 20th century as a summering ground for the super-rich, supplanted by places such as Newport, R.I.

The most famous residence, but not the biggest or most luxurious, is Franklin D. Roosevelt's home at Hyde Park. Between FDR's"Springwood" and the neighboring Vanderbilt Mansion is a 3.3-mile hiking trail. Each estate also has paved paths. On the grounds of Roosevelt's home is Eleanor Roosevelt's private retreat, Val-Kill.

One of the grandest properties is Mills Mansion, at Mills-Norrie State Park. Marvel at its 65 rooms, then hike, ride horses, play golf and camp at the park. All our favorites have treasures worth seeing or histories worth contemplating. Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, has antique cars and 20th-century art. Olana, with its Moorish architecture, is an expression of Fredric Church's artistic sensibilities and tastes. Montgomery Place predates most of the other estates; it was established nearly 200 years ago by a Revolutionary War hero's widow.


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