The day after I came home from Colombia last October, I had a quintessential New England experience: a tour of the Rockefeller Estate Kykuit complete with views of magnificent fall foliage. Accompanied by close friends, it was a perfect homecoming.
Kykuit, located near Sleepy Hollow, New York, is National Trust for Historic Preservation site and served as the private residence of the Rockefeller family from 1913 to 1979. My friends and I chose the Classic Tour, which included the first floor of the main house, the gardens, and the Pocantico Conference Center, or Coach Barn, which contains dozens of classic horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars. Mostly thanks to Michelle, our wonderful tour guide, it was an unforgettable experience that I would highly recommend to any visitors to New York City or New England.
When to Go: The estate is open and tours are available from early spring through late autumn.
How to Get There: You can purchase tickets through the Historic Hudson Valley and the estate is easily accessible via the Metro North from Grand Central Terminal.
- “Kykuit” means “lookout” in Afrikaans and the estate boasts magnificent views of the Hudson River and, on a good day, the New York City skyline.
- Kykuit was designed by William Welles Bosworth, who also helped in the 1920’s restoration efforts of the Palace of Versailles and Notre-Dame de Reims.
- In late 1946, a portion of the estate was proposed as the site of the UN Headquarters, when New York City was trying to beat off strong opposition from Philadelphia and San Francisco and secure the organization.
- Central Park designer Federick Law Olmstead was initially given the job of landscaping the grounds, but John D. Rockefeller Senior took over the design. A distinct feature of the gardens is movable, mature trees.
- Further design features were contributed by architect William Welles Bosworth, including world-class terraces and fountains.
- The gardens surrounding the estate contain sculptures by Karel Appel, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and many others.
- The basement of the estate was converted to an art gallery and contains works by Pablo Picasso (including magnificent tapestries modeled after his paintings), Marc Chagall, and Andy Warhol.