The Hudson River Valley is filled with the former estates of the very rich. These were “summer cottages” that their families used when they wanted to escape the city. Many of them are open to the public to tour the grounds, even if the buildings are closed due to COVID-19. One of the oldest is the Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison NY.
Boscobel was built by States Dyckman, a loyalist New Yorker who somehow was able to maintain his fortune and his land after the Revolutionary War. He spent the war working for the British Quatermaster Corps, and for ten years afterward he was in England, supposedly investigating corruption among that Corps. By the time he returned to New York, in 1789, he had “earned” a lifetime pension while exonerating everyone he investigated.
Over the next fifteen years, Dyckman traveled back and forth between New York and London, looking to guarantee his income. In 1803, he began construction on a mansion at his estate in Montrose, New York. His inspiration was the Boscobel House in Shropshire, England. He modeled his new home after it, and took the name for his new mansion. Unfortunately, Dyckman died in 1806, less than a year before construction was completed. The family retained ownership of the house and grounds until 1920. It then went through several owners until, in 1955, the Veterans Administration bought the land to build a new hospital. The house was sold to the Friends of Boscobel, who moved the house to its current location. The house was restored and open to the public in 1961.
Today, the grounds are open to the public. When you arrive, after checking in at the visitors center, you walk past a statue garden dedicated to the artists of the Hudson River School. Around two dozen busts of the artists look out toward an apple grove. As you walk through the grove, you begin to get take in the beautiful view of the Hudson River. To your right is an herb garden, with pear bushes, late summer flowers, and bee-hives. Past the apple grove, you enter the formal garden, which occupies the northern side of mansion. Take a seat on one benches and enjoy some contemplative time.
Continue on towards the river and you find a beautiful lawn that offers amazing views of the Hudson Valley, with West Point across the river. Turn around, and you will have the best view of the mansion, with its porch and balcony. Continue around the mansion’s exterior and you will find a lovely sundial.
The grounds also include a 1.25 mile Reese Woodland Trail. This nature trail is a calm walk through the woods, with some great views out to the river. The path is maintained, and wood chips are slayed down to keep it clear, although it is not built for wheeled devices such as walkers and strollers. There is an added trail down to Constitution Marsh, which is a very steep decent and then climb back.
Afternoon spent at Boscobel is a relaxing time. It is a chance to slow down and enjoy beautiful gardens, lovely views and nature. Head up to Garrison to take it all in.
Nuts and Bolts:
Boscobel Mansion is on route NY-9D, just south of the town of Cold Spring. The grounds are open Friday-Monday from 10 AM - Dusk. Tickets MUST be purchased in advanced through the website and fees are $12 - Adults/ $10 - Seniors/ $6 - Children.