’Tis the season to visit mansions bedecked with holiday greenery, sparkly lights and shiny baubles, and Hyde Park’s historic sites are no exception. This Sunday, December 6, the Vanderbilt Mansion hosts its annual Holiday Open House, with free admission from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and complimentary refreshments from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., courtesy of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association. It’s a great opportunity to get a taste of how barons of American industry enjoyed the Christmas season back in the Gilded Age. The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is located at 119 Vanderbilt Park Road, just off Route 9 in Hyde Park.
Next Saturday, December 12, the Roosevelt-related historic sites get in on the act. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and the Home of FDR (Springwood) will be open to visitors free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both the Home and the Roosevelt Library study will be decorated for the holidays as they were during the Roosevelt presidency. Special activities will include live readings from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Springwood.
A couple of much-anticipated annual family-friendly highlights take place that afternoon at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. One is the opportunity, from 12 noon until 4 p.m., for kids to make holiday cards for sailors on the USS Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt (www.ddg-roosevelt.navy.mil) while they wait their turns to have free photos taken with Santa. Photo sessions are available from 1 to 3 p.m., and refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.
Also happening from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Wallace Center is the tenth annual Children’s Reading Festival, presented by the Roosevelt Library and the Friends of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District. Bring your budding bookworms to meet Ulster County-based kid-lit superstar Iza Trapani at 1:30 p.m. She’ll be reading from and signing copies of her two latest books, Jingle Bells and Baa Baa Black Sheep. At 2:15 p.m., Lu Ann Schnable Kaldor and Eve S. Gendron, author and illustrator respectively of The Angels on My Tree, will take over, followed at 3 p.m. by Lisa Thiesing, author of The Viper and A Dark and Noisy Night. Featured books will be available for purchase in the New Deal Store in the Wallace Center.
December 12 will also involve an Open House at Val-Kill, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, with free admission from 1 to 7 p.m., plus refreshments and music provided by the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association. There will be no onsite parking at Val-Kill from 4 p.m. on, but a free shuttle will be running from the Wallace Center.
For more information about these and other events at the FDR sites, call (845) 229-5320, (845) 486-7745 or (845) 229‑6214 or visit www.nps.gov/hofr or www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center are located at 4079 Albany Post Road (Route 9) in Hyde Park.