This 40-acre estate on the east bank of the Hudson River became Thomas Suckley’s family home-site in 1852. It was divided from neighboring Wildercliff, which belonged to his Livingston-Beekman relatives since the days of the Dutch Patroonships.
Originally an Italianate villa by architect John Warren Ritch, the mansion was remodeled in 1888 by architect Arnout Cannon for Thomas’s son, Robert, and Robert’s wife, Elizabeth Montgomery. Interior design was completed by Joseph Burr Tiffany, cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Ritch’s Queen Anne flair gave the gabled house a five-story circular tower and an expansive veranda capturing magnificent views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The landscape commission was given to Calvert and Downing Vaux, who capitalized on the site’s picturesque qualities. Intricate networks of drives and walks trails were laid out with specimen trees and shrubs. Prospect points were augmented with rustic gazebos or sheltered garden seats. The outbuildings, including the gate lodge, carriage house, and potting shed, all by the Vaux firm, were intentionally eclectic in design.
Until 1991, Wilderstein was the home of Thomas’ granddaughter Margaret Suckley, close friend and companion of her cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Wilderstein today houses an extensive decorative arts collection and is a contributing property to the Hudson River Historic District, which became a National Historic Landmark in 1990.