Kykuit On The River Hudson

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Kykuit is the name of the home to four generations of Rockefeller family. The estate is about 40 miles north of New York City and is on the east side of majestic Hudson River. The house, really a mini castle, sits on top of a hill that is about 500 feet above the water level. The sweeping panoramic view of the river and the Palisades beyond is simply spell binding. I would like to share a few pictures that, I hope, captures the majesty and serenity of this place and shows the harmony of the grand home, sculptured gardens, forests with the majestic river in the background.


My wife and I and a family friend from Finland, visited this place in early July.  As the visits are arranged only by advance booking, we had no idea of the kind of weather we are going to have. People who know this part of the country understand that the weather during summer here is very changeable from day to day. We were lucky to get a beautiful sunny day for the visit. This place is in an area known as Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County, NY and is about 60 miles from our home in Connecticut, a comfortable car trip. Visitors who have booked the tour gather in Philipsburg manor, about 5 miles or so from Kykuit and are transported by minibus. An well-experienced tour guide escorts the group the entire time, which lasts about three hours.


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Kykuit, The Rockefeller Family House


Kykuit is the name given to the hill  (Kykuit means ‘look out’) by the Dutch colonists for its panoramic view of the Hudson River. John D. Rockefeller (1839 ? 1937), founder of the Standard Oil Company, acquired this area in 1893.


The estate through further acuisitions grew to over 2000 acres by the turn of the century. As well known, John D. Rockefeller was an extremely wealthy man, probably the richest man in America of his time. His business headquartered in New York City and to enjoy the leisure time with family, he built Kykuit as the family country home. The house was constructed between 1906 and 1913. Beginning with JD Rockefeller, four generations of Rockefellers lived here. The last occupant was Nelson Rockefeller (1908- 1979) and his family, four times Governor of New York State and Vice President of United States, from 1974 to 1977. After his death, Nelson Rockefeller’s will left his share of what had been his grand father’s estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Rockefellers wanted the place to remain as a historic place, visited and enjoyed by the public.


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Oceanus fountain ? River gods surrounding the large central statue of Oceanus


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View from the front porch of the house to the east


Inside, the house is full of arts ? exquisite sculpture collections, paintings from many famous artists and special china and other special artifacts from all over the world. The view from every side, from every floor is breath taking. The design was meant to be airy, open with priority for the best view of the surrounding environment. Pictures are not allowed inside the house, as is customary in such special places.


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The Brook garden view, reflecting Asian influences


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Another view of the inner gardens


The gardens surrounding the house is what really makes this place extra special. They are outstanding. These are gardens that blend with the surrounding nature. There are numerous outstanding sculptures that are placed in very thoughtful settings that compliment the surroundings. William Welles Bosworth, the chief architect and designer of this place, writes in his book on the Gardens of Kykuit, "Here one may stroll for a mile or more along paths within easy call of the house, winding in and out through shaded walks or sunny terraces.


Here are teahouses and pavilions, enclosed and open, to suit all seasons, weathers or time of day. Just as one’s collection of books, pictures, and music respond to the varying moods and temperaments of a family, so do the diversified features of this garden." I have a few pictures below that illustrate the point. These are only a small sampling; the estate is pretty large and there are numerous settings like these.


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Sculpture garden


On the West Side of the house, the panoramic view is superb and peaceful. This is a place where you simply want to stay for a long period of time, meditate and worship nature. The landscape is masterfully created, thoughtfully maintained as a place where one can forget the humdrum of daily events and reflect on the beauty that is Nature.


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Sculpture garden..Sculpture known as the "Song of the vowels"


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Lawn, sculptures, golf course and the River in the background



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Alexander Calder’s "Large Spiny", painted metal work sculpture, commissioned by the Rockefellers


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Rose garden is the principal feature of the north terraces


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"Triangular surface in space", directs attention to the view of the Hudson River and the cliffs of the Palisades.


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Panoramic view of Nature, looking west from Kykuit


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 J.M. Bhandary

Author: J. M. Bhandary- USA