New York State (of mind): Beekman Arms and Vanderbilt Mansion

Welcome to another installment of my photo blogs from our vacation. Today, we will look at our lunch at the Beekman Arms and our tour of the Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park. Enjoy! (If you missed the first set of pictures from the walkway over the Hudson and the FDR estate, you can find those here.)

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The Beekman Arms was founded in 1766, making it the oldest inn in the United States.

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This is the front of the Beekman Arms, as seen from the sidewalk.

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Before our meal, I ordered a cocktail: the blood orange old-fashioned, a house special.

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These house-made loaded kettle chips were delicious!

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Jill ordered one of the specials for the day: the turkey reuben.

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I had the other special: chicken pesto pasta. Everything was amazing!

The Vanderbilts were the richest family in America around the turn of the twentieth century, thanks in large part to the shipping and railroad businesses of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt. This estate belonged to his grandson Frederick, and is an example of the opulence and excess enjoyed by the tycoons of the Gilded Age. Since the Vanderbilts were “new money,” meaning that they had been wealthy for less than four generations, they went all out when it came to showcasing their wealth in an attempt to impress people and prove that they belonged with the other “old money” families. the difference in style between the Vanderbilts’ “new money” estate and the Roosevelts’ “old money” estate is quite interesting. While both are well-appointed and lavish, the Vanderbilts made a much bigger show of their wealth in everything from the furniture and decorations to the very building materials they used, importing marble from Italy for their massive mansion.

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The front of the Vanderbilt mansion. This house was built by Frederick Vanderbilt, grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the founder of the family’s fortune.

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This skylight has vents that can be opened to create an updraft through the central rooms of the house, bringing in cool air from the river side and getting rid of the hot air in the house.

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This fireplace is in the main hall of the mansion, and is the first thing visitors see upon entering.

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This is Frederick’s office. He was not particularly social, so he included a door that opens onto the entryway from his office. That way, he could excuse himself, saying that he needed to do some work, and slip out of the house for some outdoor peace and quiet while his wife, Louise entertained their guests.

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These sinks are in the powder room, where guests could refresh themselves upon arriving at the house.

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The dining room is spacious, but the table only seats 16 people. This is all original china that Frederick and Louise used for entertaining.

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The study is where the men would gather after dinner. I’m jealous of all those books!

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Check out this sweet piano in the living room!

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After dinner, the Vanderbilts and their guests would move to the living room.

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This room is where the ladies would gather before joining the men in the living room.

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All of the ceilings are just as opulent as the rest of the house. Some have intricate wooden molding, some have fancy recessed designs, and some, such as this one, even have paintings.

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This clock is on a table in the main hall. I thought it was pretty cool.

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This is the stairway to the second floor. The steps were specifically designed to be easy to ascend in fancy evening gowns without tripping or stepping on the hems of the dresses.

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In addition to numerous paintings, the walls are adorned with tapestries of various sizes.

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The red suite is the most prestigious of the guest rooms, being the closest to Frederick and Louise’s rooms.

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Louise’s bedroom is modeled after Marie Antoinette’s, including the marble railing separating her bed from the rest of the room.

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Frederick’s bedroom. The custom at the time was for husbands and wives to stay in separate, adjoining rooms. This way, they could maintain the appearance of propriety, but also be able to visit one another if they wished.

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The reason for the double row of pillars on this banister overlooking the main hall is to make it nearly impossible to see the second floor from the first. This is so the staff can go about their chores without being seen by the guests.

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There were normally planters on top of this railing, making it even less likely that any staff on the second floor could be seen by guests on the first.

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The kitchen is in the basement, and food was sent up in a dumbwaiter.

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This is the staff dining room. It was a significant perk for the staff to have a space to eat their meals and sit down for a break. Frederick and Louise were very kind to their staff, and when Frederick died, he left each member of the staff a significant sum of money. The staff were so fond of the family, that when the estate became a national park in the 1940s, the first people to give tours and help restore and maintain the mansion were former staff members.

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This is the icebox, an important part of any house before refrigeration.

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The back porch of the mansion overlooking the river valley.

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This is one of the first Ginkgo trees in the United States. It was planted by a previous owner of the estate, Doctor Samuel Bard.

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The Italian gardens predate the mansion, and the out buildings for the gardens, including the gardener’s house, are some of the first buildings on the property.

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A fountain in the gardens.

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There are several levels to the gardens, each joined by pathways and steps.

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This pond and gazebo is the central feature of the gardens.

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The view from within the gazebo.

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I can only imagine how beautiful this garden would be in other seasons, not just summer. In the spring, I’m sure it’s lovely, but the landscaping and buildings would be beautiful in the snow too.

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Another level of the gardens.

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The front view of the gazebo.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this second glimpse into our trip. There are still more photos to share, so stay tuned for part three!

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About Armorbearer

I am a freelance editor who recent graduated from Grand Valley State University, and I live in majestic Michigan with my wonderful wife. I love English and Philosophy and am working on becoming a writer/editor/professor/something else equally awesome. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and a lover of stories in all shapes and forms.

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