For hundreds of years, curators, conservators, and dedicated volunteers have taken great care to maintain the many historic sites of the Hudson Valley. Expertly preserved, these revered landmarks include elegant mansions, humble cottages, and a mesmerizing historic street. Any student of history will delight in seeing the collections of relics and antiques at the various estates and museums. While these sites each present their own architectural marvels, they also educate us about rich periods of history that signify more than just visual spectacle. Come visit, and decide on your own if history should repeat itself.
Historic Huguenot Street | New Paltz
Walk through over 300 years of history at this 10-acre National Historic Landmark District in New Paltz. Originally founded in 1894, Historic Huguenot Street was created to preserve the French and Dutch heritage of New Paltz’s first European settlers, who homesteaded the land in the 17th century. Today, the street showcases seven historic stone house museums, a reconstructed 1717 French Church, the community’s original burying ground, and a replica Esopus Munsee wigwam. Huguenot Street’s permanent collection of artifacts includes historic clothing, textiles, and colonial manuscripts, while also showcasing pieces relating to African American history, Indigenous peoples in the Hudson Valley, and the Civil War. This past July, Huguenot Street commissioned the translation of over 190 pages of historical documents from Dutch to English, revealing insights about the religious lives of the original residents and their connection to the wider world.
Locust Grove | Poughkeepsie
Set on a hill overlooking the Hudson River and encompassing 200 acres of landscaped grounds, Locust Grove is a historic estate, museum, and nature preserve in Poughkeepsie. You can take a guided tour through a 25-room Italianate mansion, walk through five miles of hiking trails, and explore a visitor welcome center with art galleries, a museum shop, and classrooms for educational programs. The site’s Transverse Gallery of Contemporary Art hosts four to six solo exhibits by contemporary artists each year, and from September through December, Locust Grove offers regular Sunset Sensations events that feature culinary samples and wine tastings from different local businesses.
Olana State Historic Site | Hudson
In the late 1860s, Hudson River School artist Frederic Church worked with architect Calvert Vaux to design a home that incorporated exotic architectural elements that Church encountered while traveling the world. This elaborately stenciled, Persian-inspired mansion, once the primary home of Frederic and Isabel Church and their four children, is now part of the 250-acre Olana State Historic Site. Today, visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the house, which is filled with original sketches, studies, and paintings. You can also view changing exhibits in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery or take part in programs and special events for all ages.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site | Staatsburg
Overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, Staatsburgh State Historic Site hosts an elegant mansion once owned by Ruth Livingston and Ogden Mills. In 1895, the couple chose to remodel their 25-room Greek Revival home into a 79-room Beaux-Arts mansion. Now open for tours, you can see the family’s original furniture and art in this prestigious historic home, including carved and gilded pieces, fine oriental rugs, silk fabrics, and a collection of art objects from Europe, Asia, and ancient Greece. The mansion’s 60-foot-long dining room shows off a luxurious marble floor, marble walls, and multiple 17th-century Belgian tapestries.
Washington’s Headquarters | Newburgh
For those looking to learn about the older history of our young nation, Washington’s Headquarters is the place to visit. Currently furnished to reflect General George Washington’s stay, this farmhouse turned military HQ was the site of multiple crucial moments during the first president’s time in Newburgh. From April 1782 to August 1783, Washington conducted his military duties in Jonathan and Tryntje Hasbrouck family’s fieldstone farmhouse, where he oversaw troops, negotiated with the Continental Congress, and even rejected the suggestion of an American monarchy. The Hasbrouck house is open for guided tours, and an adjacent museum displays over 1,300 artifacts.
Thomas Cole Historic Site | Catskill
The Thomas Cole Historic Site preserves the original home and studios of Thomas Cole, the artist and early environmentalist who cofounded the Hudson River School of American landscape painting. The grounds are open for free every day from dawn to dusk, and you can purchase general admission tickets to visit all three buildings on site. You can also buy tickets for an hour-long minute guided tour of the house and studio, Wednesday through Friday at 2pm. Take a look at exhibitions of 19th century masterpiece paintings, including works by Thomas Cole himself, or visit the gift shop in the 1839 storehouse.
Clermont State Historic Site | Germantown
Burned down by the British army in 1777, this former home of the Livingston family has taken on a different face for each generation that’s occupied it. Originally a Georgian Mansion, the house was regularly modified until it came to its present appearance, now standing decorated as it appeared in 1930. Apart from the mansion, Clermont’s 500 acres also include landscaped gardens, meadows, and woodlands. There are five miles of marked nature trails and three miles of marked bridle trails open daily from 8:30am until dusk. Stroll through the woods or participate in special events like the Fall Forest Bathing Walk on October 14.
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site | Hyde Park
Originally built as a furniture factory for Val-Kill industries, this cottage eventually became the personal retreat for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The site consists of two main buildings—Val-Kill Cottage and the Stone Cottage—but also sports multiple trails and floral scenes. Located within a temperate deciduous forest biome, Val-Kill’s outdoor sights include a pond, a cutting garden, an outdoor picnic fireplace, and a tennis court. The site’s top Cottage trail will take you to the highest point of the Hyde Park Trails. If you’re up for it, feel free to visit the nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the nation’s very first presidential library and museum, to see exhibits and interactive galleries that tell the story of FDR’s presidency.