Upcoming Events

SCHOLARSHIP INFORMATION

THE AMAZING HUDSON RIVER VALLEY

by Maura McCarthy, Trust Registrar

This spring’s symposium “The Elegance of the Hudson River Valley” was an incredible combination of lectures and tours throughout the region. 74 members traveled to Rhinebeck, NY, where we stayed in the historic Beekman Arms Inn.

The symposium began Thursday evening with a welcome from Trust Vice President Dean Failey and was followed by the Jonathan Fairbanks Lecture, delivered by Peter Kenny, Curator for the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kenny spoke about the New York Dutch settlements of the 1650s. The Dutch first came to the area in pursuit of the beaver from which their tall stove pipe hats were made. The first New Netherland coat of arms also depicted two facing beavers.

Brian Parker talks to Trust members about his extraordinary restoration of the Peter Winnie House near Albany.

Kenny also spoke about Pieter Winnie’s early colonial Dutch house. Dating from 1720, it is the oldest house in the town of Bethlehem. The Dutch style of houses features a jamless fireplace with a heavy beam mantle that carries the weight of the chimney. The original gable brick wall features fleur-de-lys wall anchors and a transom light over the door frame. Four generations of Winnies lived in the house and an addition was built in the 1750s to accommodate the maturing family. The new Dutch Room at the Metropolitan came from Winnie’s son’s house.

Trust members were able to visit the site of the original Pieter Winnie house on Saturday. We were invited for an exclusive look at the restoration project taken on by Brian Parker, who is painstakingly restoring the home with hand-blown glass from Germany and other historically faithful materials made on the place to recreate this treasure. Friday was filled with tours of historic homes of the Livingston family. Special thanks to Alan Neumann for accompanying us throughout the day and sharing his expertise on the beautiful homes and the Livingston family.

The charming classical coach house by A. J. Davis at Montgomery Place.

The first half of the day Trust members visited Montgomery Place, Wilderstein, and Clermont, all Livingston homes built in the 1800s. Both Montgomery Place and Wilderstein have landscapes inspired by Andrew Jackson Downing. The grounds’ designs draw from the natural landscape of the Hudson River region. Highlights of the houses were a stunning classical-style coach house designed by Alexander Jackson Davis at Montgomery Place as well as a handsome portrait of Andrew Johnson inside the home. The porch at Wilderstein was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy. All three houses remained residences for several centuries of Livingstons, Suckleys, and Beekmans and the furnishings and portraits are original to the many generations who lived there.

On the front lawn at Edgewater (from l to r) Kelly and Randy Schrimsher with Margize Howell. Other Trust members on the porch.

After a sunny porch lunch in Tivoli, members traveled to Edgewater, once home to John R. Livingston’s daughter Margaret Livingston, and now owned by Richard H. Jenrette. We would like to thank Trust governor, Margize Howell, for her generous help in providing us with the opportunity to view Mr. Jenrette’s private home. We were enthralled by the incredible collection of Duncan Phyfe furniture as well as Mr. Jenrette’s fabulous third-floor library.

Alan Neumann explains the added A. J. Downing designed library added to Rokeby in the 19th century.

We finished the day with a glass of wine at the private Livingston house, Rokeby, now owned by Wint Aldrich who greeted us and shared his family’s house and land which has passed through the female line for 12 generations since 1696. The octagonal library added in the 19th century was designed by A. J. Davis.

Sweet little privy at Cedar Grove.

Saturday was another full day of lectures and house tours. We began at the Albany Institute of History and Art, where Collections Director Tammist Groft lectured about the Institute’s Dutch collections. Albany was heavily settled by the Dutch and theirarchitecture can still be seen in the city.

Groft quoted Peter Kalm’s 18th Century travels to Albany where he remarked on their influence: “The people are Dutch, their houses are Dutch, their clothes are Dutch, even their dogs are Dutch.” The collections certainly express a wide array of the Dutch culture: silver spoons inscribed with birth and death dates, tobacco boxes, tin-glazed earthenware tiles, and early spindle chairs to name a few. The Institute has been collecting for over 200 years.Roderic Blackburn then lectured on the Dutch houses in Albany, which typically had gable-ended fireplaces, Dutch doors and windows, two rooms, and palisaded fences, and the open Dutch fireplaces. (Although by the 1790s most were changed to enclosed English fireplaces.) They also had steep roofs with stepped gables to diminish absorption of rain. The houses were built in an “A” and “H” frame; the first floor had a shop in the front with living quarters in the back room. After lectures, we were able to view the Institute’s Dutch collections described by Groft.

Wynkoop House where Trust members stopped for drinks on the way home from Albany on Saturday.

We were then treated to another delicious lunch at the historic Fort Orange Club, a private club that allowed the Trust to visit, thanks to the sponsorship of member Marcia Floyd. After lunch, escorted by Rob Blackburn, we visited a number of historic Dutch homes described in his lecture, including the Pieter Winnie House, where Brian Parker joined us, and the Coeymans House. We also had the opportunity to see the Bronck Museum, a complex of eleven buildings, including an impressive 13-sided barn that was once part of the Bronck family farm. We ended the day with drinks at the private Wynkoop House, a Colonial stone house built in 1767 and now owned and meticulously maintained by Gary Tinterow, Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan. Tinterow talked about the restoration of the house and its original paint, plaster, pine floors, and woodwork that remain today.

Staked and in place, Gary Tinterow’s new boxwood parterre attracted the gardeners in our group while visiting Wynkoop.

We were sorry to have to say goodbye on Sunday, but did so with another great series of lectures. First from Evelyn Trebilcock, curator of Olana, who spoke about the Hudson River School of painters —“adventurers of the new world.” Trebilcock gave a beautiful presentation of some of the great works by artists such as Thomas Cole, John Trumbull, and Asher B. Durand. Philip Zimmerman presented fascinating information on the wealth of furniture at Boscobel and the mystery surrounding research to resolve the provenance of the extensive collection.

Privileged to get to the Persian porch at Olana, Trust members enjoyed a very thorough curatorial tour.

We ended this wonderful weekend with a lecture from Ruth Piwonka, who spoke about 17th century Dutch­woman Margrieta van Varick. Piwonka’s research introduced the importance of descriptions of early Dutch inventories and the resulting statistics.

Andy Goldworthy’s Stone Wall going into the lake at Storm King.

The symposium closed with an announcement that next spring’s symposium will return to New York, on Long Island, for even more of the Dutch and their fascinating history and contribution to the decorative arts. Bookends to this symposium included visits to Thomas Cole’s home, Cedar Grove, where they have found the foundations of his studio and will rebuild it, and to Olana, the Persian villa home of Frederic Church. We learned that most of the furnishings are original to the house including the paintings, and that the archives at Olana are extensive and chock-full of treasures. There are more than ten dissertations there just waiting for smart students! A visit to Hudson, NY, for lunch and antiquing resulted in appreciative dealers and Trust members. The Sunday Optional Tour took members to the heavenly sculpture park, Storm King, where we saw Andy Goldworthy’s Stone Wall Taking a Walk in the Woods.

We ended with a final elegant stop at beautiful Boscobel. After Phil Zimmerman’s lecture that morning, members were ready for an indepth tour of furnishings. Zimmerman was there to answer questions, too. We departed at dusk with sherry in hand and cheers to the weekend.

BACK TO TOP