In a region chock-full of historic mansions to visit, the only problem is narrowing down which one to go to. Montgomery Place, in the hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson, is perhaps one of the lesser-known historical properties in the area. A good chance to get to know it better would be this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20, when Montgomery Place will celebrate New York Heritage Weekend by offering tours of the mansion free of charge. There will also be a rare 1787 map of Red Hook and Rhinebeck on exhibit for the first time.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have such a rare specimen on display for the first time ever,” says Rob Schweitzer, director of public relations for the organization. The map is normally kept in its climate-controlled collection storage, he says, but will make its public debut this weekend. “It’s one of only four known 18th-century maps of Red Hook and Rhinebeck. The others are at the Rhinebeck Library, the New York State Archives, and one was recently sold to a private collector, whose whereabouts are unknown,” Schweitzer says. “The map from our collection is by far the most detailed. Cartography buffs are going to love it.”
Tours of the house will be available on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the last tour starting at 3 p.m. The mansion is a neoclassical villa dating to the early 19th century, with views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains from its terraces and north pavilion. It got its name from Janet Livingston Montgomery, who built the original house in 1805 and named it Chateau de Montgomery in honor of her late husband, general Richard Montgomery. After Janet’s death, the property passed to her brother Edward Livingston and his wife Louise, who renamed it Montgomery Place. After Edward died, Louise hired American architect Alexander Jackson Davis in 1844 to convert the mansion into a more ornate villa, reflective of the Romantic sensibilities of the times.
Beyond the mansion, the 380-acre property offers a variety of experiences for the visitor. The grounds contain gardens, designed in the early 20th century, of herbs, annuals and perennials, an arboretum and productive orchards, whose fruit is available for purchase in season at the Montgomery Place Orchards Farm Stand. Picnicking on the grounds is allowed, and outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy natural features like the woodland trails, laid out more than 100 years ago, that lead to the waterfalls of the Sawkill River, or can take self-directed hikes through the West Meadow or South Woods.
Future events planned at Montgomery Place for the season include Red Hook Community Day on Saturday, July 14, a celebration of Red Hook’s rural heritage, and an antique car show on Saturday, September 22.
Montgomery Place is located on River Road, just off Route 9G, three miles north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. The grounds, which include the gardens, arboretum, woodland trails and the falls of the Sawkill, are open year-round, including holidays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the grounds is always free.
House tours in 2012 will be conducted Thursdays through Sundays from May 19 through October 28. Tours are 45 minutes long, available on the hour, with the last tour starting at 3 p.m. Tickets for the tours are $10 for adults, free for members and children under age three. Tours are free to all on Heritage Weekend, May 19 and 20. Pets are not allowed on Historic Hudson Valley properties. For more information, call (845) 758-1036 or visit www.hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/montgomery-place.