Now that the all-too-brief colors of autumn have faded to brown, the next phase of weekend activity commences with holiday visits to the Hudson Valley grand estates. All dressed up for the holidays, the homes that once housed Gilded Age industrialists and the founding families of the region offer a festive way to interpret the lives of those former residents while enjoying the winter holidays.
Better yet if the experience includes the opportunity to come home with a treasure or two. The Locust Grove historic estate and museum in Poughkeepsie is bringing back its annual Artisan Marketplace over Thanksgiving Day weekend. The carefully curated show of some 40 vendors offers a range of handmade goods for purchase, suitable for gift-giving, from textile arts to jewelry and ceramics to objets d’art.
The Hudson Valley Artisan Marketplace will be held at Locust Grove Friday through Sunday, November 24 to 26. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
“It’s a small and select show, but big enough and interesting enough to be worth a stop,” says Locust Grove’s executive director, Ken Snodgrass. “It’s a great mix: a nicely organized plan with a little bit of everything, but not too much of any one thing.”
The show is held indoors, so visitors will be comfortable regardless of the weather, and a soup-and-sandwich vendor will sell light lunches and coffee.
Holiday tours of the historic mansion will be offered beginning at 10 a.m., with the last tour of the day going out at 3:15 p.m. The cost is $11 for adults, $6 for ages 6 to 18. (A last round of holiday tours will be held on Saturday, December 2, same hours.) Tours for the public begin again in May, with group tours for ten or more visitors offered by appointment year-round. The gardens and grounds at Locust Grove remain open from 8 a.m. to dusk all year.
The mansion at Locust Grove was once home to artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. The Italianate villa overlooking the Hudson River was designed for him in 1851 by architect Andrew Jackson Davis. The site’s museum exhibits on his dual accomplishments as a painter and inventor of the telegraph and Morse Code are well worth the visit.
While no furnishings survive from his family’s years at Locust Grove, there are original works of art by Morse on view, including portraits, landscapes, drawings and sculpture from all phases of his career. The Telegraph Gallery displays reproductions of Morse’s early telegraph models, including the early electromagnetic telegraph.
The estate was the Morse family’s summer home; winters they lived in a Manhattan townhouse. In commissioning A. J. Davis to build the estate in Poughkeepsie, Morse supplied him with his own sketches of towers, windows and floor plans based on elegant villas that he’d visited years earlier in the Italian countryside.
After Morse died in 1872, his family spent little time there. They rented the property in 1895 to a wealthy local couple, William and Martha Young, who purchased the site in 1901 to live in year-round.
The Youngs expanded and modernized the mansion, adding central heat, electric lighting and hot and cold running water. They redecorated with their own art and antiques, and added gardens to the property. The family included son Innis and daughter Annette, who became sole owner of the estate in 1953 when her brother died. She lived there until her death in 1975, establishing a foundation in her later years to preserve the collections and home.
The estate opened to the public in 1979. The Young family’s collection of Hudson River School paintings, early-19th-century American furniture and personal possessions can be viewed when taking a tour of the house.
Hudson Valley Artisan Marketplace, Friday/Saturday, November 24/25, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, November 26, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free; holiday tours, Friday-Sunday, November 24-26, 10 a.m-3:15 p.m., $11/$6, Locust Grove, 2683 South Road (Route 9), Poughkeepsie; (845) 454-4500, www.lgny.org.