One of the best things about a place where historic homes still stand aplenty is that some of them are so fantastically maintained and restored. They enliven our landscape, especially from a riverboat view, and we can bring our families there to breathe in the previous lifetimes that our valley has known.
Formerly (and sometimes locally) known as Mills Mansion, Staatsburgh was the Gilded Age country home of financer and philanthropist Ogden Mills and his wife, Ruth Livingston Mills, a prominent figure in New York society. And every December, a “history mystery” takes place in its 79 rooms. This year, as families move through the Gilded Age mansion, they’ll have to interview costumed interpreters, who portray houseguests and servants, to find out who would draw a mustache on the portrait of Mrs. Mills during a recent weekend party. “It’s a fun and interactive way to introduce children to history while enjoying the decorated mansion,” says site manager Pam Malcolm. “The Holiday Whodunit has become an annual tradition for many families, who come each December to enjoy the holiday decorations and explore the mansion and park together.” Children submit their deduction of “whodunit” at the end of their tour for the chance to win prizes provided by The Friends of Mills Mansion and Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck.
The Holiday Whodunit at Staatsburgh State Historic Site,
on Old Post Road in Staatsburg, off Route 9 between Rhinebeck and Hyde Park: December 6, 13, 20 and 27; drop in anytime between 1-3:30pm for the open house, self-guided, interactive tour; Children ages 12 and under are free; admission for adults is $8, and senior admission is $6. For more information and to find out about special evening hours and other holiday tours, call 845-889-8851 or visit their website
and Facebook page
Make a day of it with a trip to Locust Grove at 2683 South Road (US Route 9) in Poughkeepsie. There will be Holiday Scavenger Hunts
on Sundays, December 6, 13 and 20, from 12-4p, where your family can decipher clues to find some of the Young family’s favorite objects, which are rarely on view. Once you’ve completed the hunt (staged through the historic mansion’s 20 lavishly-decorated rooms), return to the visitor center for cider, cookies, and story-telling. $8/person, kids under 4 are free. Visit their website
for more info.
Also check out A Child’s Christmas at Clermont
, happening at 87 Clermont Avenue in Germantown on December 5th and 6th from 10a-12p, for a stocking-foot tour, stories by the Christmas tree in the Livingstons’ oak-paneled library, and treats in the historic kitchen. Ideal for ages 3-10; $4 per person.
And don’t miss Boscobel’s annual Sparkle! event,
at 1601 Route 9D in Garrison, happening Fridays and Saturdays starting this weekend through December 19th. For details and tickets, visit their website