GREAT HOUSES | Kykuit, seat of the Rockefellers

KykuitKykuit, the epic seat of the Rockefellers in Pocantico Hills.

“It’s what God would have built, if only He had the money.”

At the peak of the Hudson Valley fall, Mrs. F. indulged me and agreed to spend the better part of an October Saturday touring Kykuit, the Rockefeller seat in Pocantico Hills.

The estate, owned by New York’s first family since 1893, is a sprawling compound that sits high above the Hudson and the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Its apex is a forty-room classical revival manor house that was home first to John D. Rockefeller Sr. and subsequently by his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and his grandson, Nelson A. Rockefeller, storied governor of New York and the 41st vice president of the United States.

Work on the mansion’s first form took six years to complete. The house’s final rendering was completed by Junior in 1913 with architecture from Chester Holmes Aldrich and William Adams Delano. The six-story structure includes two basement levels. The gracious interiors, which I found remarkable for their simplicity, were designed by Ogden Codman Jr., who co-authored the seminal Decoration of Houses with Edith Wharton in 1898.

Elsewhere on the estate, called the Park, are the homes of David Rockefeller, Happy Rockefeller, and a massive Tudor-revival Playhouse that’s still used as a club house by the Rockefeller. A nine-hole golf course, a massive orangerie and a multi-story Coach Barn and about 70 other outbuildings and houses round the Park out. The landscaping is as remarkable as the manorhouse and the other structures. Initially begun by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, the work was completed by William Welles Bosworth, who designed the extensive terraces, fountains and gardens that surround the house.

HappyHappy Rockefeller plays with her son, Nelson Rockefeller Jr., in a fountain at Kykuit in 1965. This image was taken by epic LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Though the grand setting is itself worthy of a visit, Nelson Rockefeller’s extensive art collection is the real gem at Kykuit. A roster of artists whose works adorn Kykuit is too long for inclusion here, but the Governor’s subterranean galleries, which feature some of the best artists of the 20th century, are among the finest I’ve ever visited. Warhol, Picasso and Calder are all accounted for. The Governor also interspersed a vast collection of sculpture on the property.

As if that weren’t all terribly charming, there’s a fantastic collection of Rockefeller automobiles, carriages and coaches in the Coach barn. Among these are the Governor’s 1949 Crosley Hot Shot and several Lincolns he used during his four terms as New York’s chief executive.

The Park is a frequent cultural reference; the Governor’s May 4, 1963 marriage to Happy Rockefeller was mentioned during the third season of “Mad Men.”

Tours of the home are conducted seasonally, from the beginning of May to the beginning of November. The 2011 season opens Sunday, May 8. While the home is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, tours are run by Historic Hudson Valley, a network of historic Hudson Valley homes that was founded in 1951 by Junior. Tickets should be purchased in advance and tours start out from the adjacent Phillipsburg Manor.

Here’s a gallery from our trip:

Kykuit — Historick Hudson Valley
(914) 631-8200 Monday through Friday or (914) 631-3992 on weekends
Pocantico Hills, New York.

CLIP | ‘Tomorrowland’

CLIP | ‘Blowing Smoke’

MAPS | The Old New York of ‘Mad Men’ (Updated)


View ‘Mad Men’ environs in a larger map

Season Four updates appended below.

Some weeks ago, I asked a couple of good friends who are devoted ‘Mad Men’ fans for some help in identifying Old New York icons referred to in the AMC drama, the fourth season of which premiers on Sunday. The idea was to build a Google map to complement the excellent map put together by the staff of The Journal News, which details the Westchester County references on the show.

We came up with a fairly short list: Keen’s, the Waldorf, the Oyster Bar, P.J. Clarke’s, Tiffany’s and a number of hotels and department stores. I started watching shows from the previous seasons and came up with a few more. Then, early this week, I spent some time mining Basket of Kisses, an excellent blog run by Deborah and Roberta Lipp. They’ve got a catalog of cultural references for each episode that I believe to be nearly complete. Armed with data assembled there, my Google map filled out quite nicely.

I won’t bother listing all the locations, save for those which are marked only by addresses. Here’s that group, accompanied by explanations:

405 Madison Ave.: The headquarters of Sterling Cooper
152 Riverside Drive: Freddy Rumsen’s apartment
995 Fifth Avenue: Stanhope Hotel
767 5th Avenue: Savoy-Plaza Hotel
335 Madison Avenue: Biltmore Hotel
5th Avenue and 56th Street: Bonwit Teller
116 MacDougal Street: Gaslight Cafe
33 W. 52nd Street: Toots Shor
3 East 53rd Street: The Stork Club
8 Whipoorwill Road, Chappaqua: Henry Francis home
Park Avenue and 83st street: Pete and Trudy Campbell’s apartment
42 West 12th St.: Joan Holloway’s apartment

Updates
Season Four, Episode 1: ‘Public Relations’
Time-Life Building: 51st Street and Avenue of the Americas
Waverly Place and 6th Avenue: Don’s new apartment
Jimmy’s LaGrange: 151 East 49th St., detailed here.
Hotel Barbizon: 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue
Griswold Inn: Essex, Conn.

Season Four, Episode 2: ‘Christmas Comes But Once a Year’
Chumley’s: 86 Bedford St.
White Horse Tavern: 567 Hudson St.
St. Vincent’s Hospital: 275 8th Ave.
Hotel Elysee: 60 East 54th St.
First Baptist Church: 71st Street and Broadway

Season Four, Episode 3: ‘The Good News’
The Brown Derby: Los Angeles, Calif.
City College: 160 Convent Ave.
University of California: Berkeley, Calif.
Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
Barnard College: 116th Street and Broadway

Season Four, Episode 4: ‘The Rejected’

Jim Downey’s Steakhouse: 8th Avenue and 44th Street
Washington Market: Meatpacking District
Audubon Ballroom (Site of Malcom X’s assassination): 3940 Broadway

Season 4, Episode 5: ‘The Chrysanthemum and the Sword’
Playland Amusement Park: Rye, New York
Benihana: 47 West 56th St.
Staten Island Ferry: Whitehall Terminal, South Ferry
104 Waverly Place: Don’s address
Deerfield Academy: Pete Campbell’s alma mater
Asia Society: 725 Park Ave.

Season 4, Episode 6: ‘Waldorf Stories’
Heller’s Luxury Furs: 246 Seventh Ave.
Pen and Pencil: 205 E. 45th St.

Season 4, Episode 7: ‘The Suitcase’
The Palm: 837 2nd Ave.
Forum of the Twelve Casears: 57 West 48th St. (Now A.J. Maxwell’s)
Keen’s (previously mentioned in Season 3): 72 West 36th St.

Season 4, Episode 8: ‘The Summer Man’
New York Athletic Club: 180 Central Park South
Barbetta: 321 West 46th St.

Season 4, Episode 9: ‘The Beautiful Girls’
University Club: 1 West 54th St.
Frank E. Campbell: 1076 Madison Ave.

Season 4, Episode 10: ‘Hands and Knees’
Shea Stadium
Playboy Club: 5 East 59th St.
Warwick Hotel: 65 West 54th St.

Season 4, Episode 11: ‘Chinese Wall’
Jones Beach
Hotel Statler (today’s Hotel Pennsylvania): 401 7th Ave.
River Club: 447 East 52nd St.

What are we missing?

CLIP | ‘Chinese Wall’

CLIP | ‘Hands and Knees’

CLIP | ‘The Beautiful Girls’

CLIP | ‘The Summer Man’

CLIP | ‘The Suitcase’

CLIP | ‘Waldorf Stories’

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