Kykuit: Retreat of the Rockefellers

The John D. Rockefeller estate, Kykuit, is a 40-room National Trust house in Westchester County, NY, built by oil tycoon, capitalist and Rockefeller family patriarch John D. Rockefeller. Conceived largely by his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and enriched by the art collection of third-generation scion, Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller, it has been home to four generations of the family.

Kykuit derived from the Dutch word Kijkuit meaning “lookout,” appropriate, since the mansion and estate is situated on the highest point in the hamlet of Pocantico Hills, overlooking the Hudson River at Tappan Zee.

The views of the Hudson from inside the house and as you stroll the gardens are incredible. There is a modern art museum in the basement, and a display of several of the Rockefeller’s carriages/cars throughout the decades. Although most of the estate is still privately owned by descendants, it was pretty cool to be able to peek behind the curtain.

Kykuit was designed originally as a steep-roofed three-story stone mansion by the architects Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano. The initial eclectic structure took six years to complete. Before being occupied it was substantially rebuilt in its present four-story Classical Revival Georgian form.

In 1906, the design of Kykuit’s grounds was undertaken by the architect William Welles Bosworth, who designed the surrounding terraces and gardens with fountains, pavilions and classical sculpture.

These gardens in the Beaux-Arts style are considered Bosworth’s best work in the United States, looking out over very fine views of the Hudson River. His original gardens still exist, with plantings carefully replaced over time, although his entrance forecourt was extended in 1913. The terraced gardens include a Morning Garden, Grand Staircase, Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, Japanese-style brook, Japanese Tea-house, large Oceanus fountain, Temple of Aphrodite, loggia, and semicircular rose garden.

If you love architecture, modern art and beautiful scenery, this is a perfect day-trip destination, because it combines it all.

Getting there: 381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Hours: May 4-September 30, Thursdays-Sundays; October 1-30, open daily except Tuesdays; November 2-12 Thursdays-Sundays. Visit the website for tour times and types.
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One Reply to “Kykuit: Retreat of the Rockefellers”

  1. Wow it really looks lovely!

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