Situated in the Hudson River National Heritage Landmark District, Staatsburg’s Hoyt House, built for Lydig Hoyt and his wife Blanche Livingston, was integrated with its promontory setting so much so that the footprint of the building was modified in order to save a venerable tree grove. Calvert Vaux designed the Picturesque house and its 92-acre grounds in 1855; subsequently choosing the estate as Design No. 31 for his 1857 book, Villas & Cottages.
The broad river views to the north and west established the house site; breaking with custom, the house was given no wing, as that would block the views. The traditional re-grading of the site to create vast lawns around the structure was also forgone to avoid disturbing too many extant trees. The winding one-third mile entry drive presented vignettes of country life, winding to preserve trees and views of high aesthetic value. The building’s bluestone exterior was quarried on site.
In 1962, the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation purchased the property from the Hoyt heirs in residence in an attempt to consolidate a 900-acre stretch of state-owned river front property. The intention was to raze the building and use the footprint to build a swimming pool for public use. The Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are undertaking rehabilitation. Along with nearby Wilderstein and Olana, Hoyt House exemplifies Vaux’s sensitivity to site conditions.