If you're a faithful reader, you know that this is my second visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park (Hudson Valley.) Husband and I headed up to the Valley last October to celebrate our first anniversary. Vanderbilt Mansion was on my (long) to-do list for the weekend, but it's a popular place on a good-weather weekend, so tickets were sold out by the time we arrived. We got to see the grounds (peak foliage and views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains) and gardens, which are gorgeous, even off season.
So. Husband took a boys trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania and I headed back up to Hudson to (finally) get a peak at this Vanderbilt Mansion. Of the forty of so mansions built by the grandchildren of OG Cornelius Vanderbilt, the owner, Frederick William Vanderbilt, of this Beaux-Arts masterpiece "cottage" received the smallest inheritance. He used (part of) it to purchase 600 acres of land and build his dream (vacation) house from 1896-1899.
In comparison to the other Vanderbilt estates I've seen, say the Breakers or Marble House in Newport, Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC (the largest house in the United States) and even the Vanderbilit Museum in Long Island, this home of 50,000 square feet is modest in comparison. I say that with barely a straight face. The foyer to this "summer cottage"-- only used a couple months a year-- is bigger than my entire apartment.
What it lacks in comparable size, the mansion makes up for in detail. Frederick Vanderbilt liked to party— a lot, evidenced by those ornate Corinthian columns denoting the home was a place for celebrations, and all those details along the facade. Guests were supposed to drive up and feel like they were visiting European royalty. Vanderbilt was pretty obsessed with Europe in general. There's only one non-European piece of furniture in the entire house. Its' a Steinway piano. LOL.
But back to the parties. Our tour guide spoke of parties that would cost $500k- $1m, back then. A favorite past time was having your guests, all dressed up in their fancy wares, hop into a gigantic sandbox with mini-shovels and dig for diamonds, rubies and emeralds. If you found a rock, you kept it.
Anyway, let's go inside. I told you the "foyer" , which also served a living room where guests would gather, was huge:
Look up, there's a beautiful balcony and skylight on the second floor. Check those details:
All of the first floor rooms are off-shoots of the foyer/living room. I started with the dining room. I live for that ceiling. Ugh.
The drawing room, where ladies would gather or withdrawl" while the men talked business/sh-- as they consumed brandy and cigars:
Where the men talked sh--. Check out the ceiling. Also, if you look behind the lamp, you'll see the Steinway piano I mentioned earlier.
An office. Look at the vintage revolvers as decor:
Of all the home tours, I've been on, this was the most informal. After a quick recap about the family, the guide just sent us off to wander around the house at our leisure. After about 15 minutes, we were rounded up to head to the second floor.
I loved the staircase:
Now we're on the second floor, which had a great "peep hole view" of the main floor:
There were many bedrooms, but many of them were covered for the season. I did get some decent pics of the Mrs. bedroom suite, which included a bed with a (marble) gate, and luxurious decor on the walls and ceilings.
I think these accessories were in her dressing room. Maybe it was a guest or child's room:
And the Mister's room (Excuse the lighting. We weren't allowed to use flash, and the rooms were pretty dim). It's got a real castle-esque feel to it.
Last, but not least, the Italian gardens:
A view of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Even on an overcast day, it's awesome: