The Hudson Valley
North of New York City on New York’s Route 9 the driver will be rewarded with an astonishing array of historic houses open to the public. Presidents’ homes, palaces of the Gilded Age, and artists’ studios are thick on scenic outlooks along the Hudson River. In May, just as spring reaches its glory on the river, two new house museums will open their doors, gilding—if that’s even possible—the lily. Owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and managed by Historic Hudson Valley, caretaker of many of the great Hudson River properties, Nelson A. Rockefeller’s eighty-seven-acre estate and forty-room turn-of-the-century stone mansion in North Tarrytown is ready for visitors, the first time any Rockefeller home has allowed the public in.
The house’s name, Kykuit, refers to a Dutch word for “lookout”—appropriately, since it claims outstanding river views. Other attractions are family antiques, Nelson Rockefeller’s renowned collection of twentieth-century paintings and sculptures, and spectacular hilltop gardens. You may not get there in May, since reservations have been filling up fast since January, but be assured there is no season in which Kykuit will not shine. (For reservations, call 914-631-8200.)
Just ten miles south of Tarrytown at Hastings-on-Hudson a brand-new gallery of Hudson River art opens in May on the five acres surrounding the home and studio of one of the best-known painters of the Hudson River School, Jasper Cropsey. The Newington-Cropsey Gallery of Art and Cultural Studies will display many of his acknowledged masterpieces as well as paintings by others, such as Asher Durand and John Kensett, for whom the river in all its moods and light was inspiration. (For information, call 203-863-8331.)