Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

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Hyde Park, NY
United States
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site

Built in 1828 along the banks of the Hudson River, Hyde Park is one of André Parmentier’s rare extant works, and perhaps the oldest Picturesque landscape predating Central Park and the Rural Cemetery movement. It features long curvilinear drives and paths in a setting which combines structured vistas of woodland and lawn interspersed with sections of wilder native landscape. In 1835 the Langdon family purchased the property and relocated the terraced formal gardens to their present hillside location, descending towards Crum Elbow Creek.

In 1895, Frederick Vanderbilt purchased the estate and 676 acres for a country house and extensive farm. He commissioned McKim, Mead and White to design a Beaux-Arts style mansion overlooking the river, building the new structure on the footprint of its predecessor. Vanderbilt also altered the formal terraces to include a simple annual garden and formal Italian gardens designed by James L. Greenleaf.

Between 1910 and 1913, Vanderbilt hired Robert B. Cridland to redesign the northern portion of the Italian garden as a Cherry Tree Walk. Cridland also collaborated with Thomas Meehan and Sons to expand the formal gardens with a new rose garden. The southern portion of Greenleaf’s Italian garden remained intact, with geometric perennial beds and a reflecting pool backed by a brick loggia.

Following Vanderbilt’s death, 212 acres, excluding the farm lands, were transferred to the National Park Service. Restoration of the gardens, which deteriorated after World War II, was begun in the 1980s. The property was designated a National Historic Site in 1940.