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Museum Reviews: Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, N.Y.

By Edited Sep 20, 2016 1 2

Tucked snugly above the banks of the Hudson River in New York sits an interesting piece of American history. A home built in the early 19th century, Boscobel is a reminder of an earlier time.

The mansion is currently located in Garrison, New York, but its original location was actually several miles south of where it sits today. The historic home was moved for preservation in the 1950s from Montrose, N.Y. to Garrison after being slated by the government for demolition for a mere $35.

Today the home has been restored and beautifully brought back to life and serves as a fascinating museum. The home and gardens are seasonally available for tour and throughout the year special events are held on the grounds.

Exterior of Boscobel
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

The mansion's new home is in Garrison, N.Y., although was originally built several miles south. Here visitors to the property view the home before going on their tour. Photo taken in 2004.

Origins and History of Boscobel

This grand home was originally owned by States Morris Dyckman, who was a Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War era, despite the fact his family were Patriots. It is suspected he remained a Loyalist for the money. Working for the British Army's Quartermaster keeping the books, he became a wealthy man. Later the quartermasters he served came under scrutiny for profiteering and Dyckman would return to England in 1779 to help them resolve the issue and remained in England for about 10 years. The quartermasters were cleared and Dyckman was paid handsomely for his services.

Upon his return to the United States, Dyckman decided he would be a gentleman farmer and he began working towards this goal. In 1794 he married Elizabeth Corne, a woman 21 years younger, and was the granddaughter of one of his Loyalist neighbors. The marriage produced two children, Peter and Leticia. Leticia would die in infancy. The marriage was a happy one and correspondences between the two show the couple was very much in love.

Dyckman returned to England to resolve some money issues after his annuities from the quartermasters had ceased to arrive. He thought he'd be there short-term, but ended up staying three years.  At this time Boscobel was still only an idea, but he shopped extensively for the grand home he planned to build. He returned back to New York in 1803.

The mansion was commissioned to be built and construction commenced in 1804 on Dyckman's 250-acre farm in Montrose. During the years after his marriage, Dyckman was recalled back to England several times to deal with some financial issues and money he was owed from the and he never actually saw the completed home he so carefully planned. Soon after his final return to New York, he fell gravely ill and passed away in 1806. Elizabeth continued construction and the house was built in the same design of many English Federal architectural style homes that were popular during this period. The majestic Federal style home was completed in 1808. Elizabeth would live in the house and run the farm until she passed away in 1823. Peter would die just one year later. The home would remain in the Dyckman family until 1888.

The inside and outside of the structure were built ornately and definitely with elaborate and fashion in mind.

Boscobel main entry hall
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Today's interpretation of Boscobel's entry and grand staircase leading upstairs (the room is a lot bigger than my photo shows).

The Restoration

After the government had slated the building to be demolished for a mere $35, but a man named Benjamin West Frazier raised enough money to stop demolition and buy what remained of the home. He had the house dismantled and the home remained in storage in barns and other buildings until enough money could be raised to rebuild the house and the right location came onto the market where the home could be reassembled. This opportunity came in 1956 when a 26-acre piece of land became available for sale and was purchased. And a beautiful location it was - overlooking the beautiful Hudson River. For a while the benefactor was anonymous, but now it is known that Mrs. Lila Acheson Wallace, co-founder of Reader's Digest, generously contributed both monetarily and with the design of the restoration to help Boscobel become what it is today.

In 1961 the home and grounds were opened to the public. At this time the interior of the home was not designed in accordance with what was historically accurate, but over the years the museum has diligently been working hard to restore the home along the lines of how the home looked in the early 19th century.

In the 1970s family records of States Dyckman were discovered and today a combination of replications, reproductions and original pieces have been reclaimed and brought "home". Later, in 1989, the 1824 inventory was found and this helped further bring the house closer to its original display.

Boscobel's formal dining room
Credit: Leigh Goessl

The Grounds

Boscobel, in its location above the Hudson River, has pristine views in all directions including views of Bear Mountain, Constitution Island and West Point. The gardens are one of Boscobel's highlights and feature a wonderful rose garden, herb garden, a pond, a fountain and a wooded trail, among many other stunning attributes.

The views of the river are nothing less than spectacular, especially in the spring and early summer months when flowers are in full bloom.

Rose bush at Boscobel
Credit: Leigh Goessl

One of the rose bushes in the garden at Boscobel. Photo taken in 2004.

Visiting Boscobel

The mansion and grounds are open daily, except Tuesdays. Guided tours are available seasonally, from April through December, but is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2015, admission for adults is $17, $14 for seniors, $8 for children 6-14 (under 6 are free). There is also pricing for a family of four at $45 ($8 additional family members). You can also choose just to tour the garden, but if you've not been inside the house, it's definitely worth it to see at least once. If you are bringing small children, be prepared to potentially have to carry them through the tour, it is not a child-friendly tour. I've toured with both young and older children on my various visits and found it more difficult with the younger ones (especially when tours are crowded). Tours last about an hour.

There is also an Exhibition Gallery, which was introduced in 2008. The art gallery is located in the lower level of the main house and open to the public for display of a variety of art exhibits which change periodically. Additionally, on the second Tuesday of the month artists can come visit for free and work along the beautiful landscape.

River views from Boscobel
Credit: Leigh Goessl

Views of the Hudson from Boscobel. Just below is a nature preserve - the river is a lot wider just around the bend.

As you tour the mansion you get a distinct feel of being transported back in time to the 19th century. The interior design and furnishings are wonderfully restored. If you decide to tour the house, the guided tours are very informative and you'll get a very detailed experience about the Dyckman family and the history of the house.

Boscobel is secluded, but also conveniently located on Route 9D, not too far from the charming village of Cold Spring and also the Bear Mountain Bridge and Bear Mountain State Park.

Gardens at Boscobel
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Fountain located in the center of the rose garden on the Boscobel grounds.

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Comments

Sep 6, 2014 8:28am
Cynthiatro
Looks like a wonderful place to tour.
Sep 7, 2014 3:21am
LeighGoessl
Thanks for reading and commenting Cynthiatro. The house and the grounds are so beautiful.
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Bibliography

  1. "Explore the House." Boscobel House and Gardens. 5/09/2014 <Web >
  2. "Timeline of Boscobel History." Boscobel.org. 22/07/2016 <Web >

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