Historic Hudson Valley

  • Arts & Culture
  • 1940

John Rockefeller Jr. was an ardent antiquarian and historic preservationist (as indicated by the money and energy he poured into recreating Colonial Williamsburg—see 1927 entry). These interests extended to the area around his home in Westchester County, north of New York City, which has a rich history and architectural and artistic heritage.

In 1940 Rockefeller acquired an eighteenth-century Dutch-English farm and restored it for public visitation to offer a glimpse into life in a northern colonial manor house. In 1945 Rockefeller bought and opened to the public Sunnyside, the romantic, rambling Hudson-Riverside home of America’s first internationally prominent writer, Washington Irving, creator of the Sleepy Hollow legends.

A few years later Rockefeller purchased the nearby colonial home of a prominent Dutch family to save it from destruction. Later, other historic properties were added—including the Rockefellers’ own family home for four generations, Kykuit, along with its spectacular art and gardens. All of these sites are managed by the nonprofit Historic Hudson Valley with an acute eye toward historical accuracy and public enjoyment and education.