It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Vanderbilt Mansion

Many of you have made it to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville – home of George Washington Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt family is actually from New York, and there are quite a few more of these Vanderbilt mansions scattered throughout New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island (though none as big as in Asheville). George Washington Vanderbilt’s brother, Fredrick Vanderbilt, had a house in Hyde Park, NY, where my grandmother lives (she lives in Hyde Park…obviously not in the Vanderbilt Mansion – though that would be totally awesome if she did).

Unlike the Biltmore Estate, the Vanderbilt family no longer owns the mansion in Hyde Park – it is owned by the National Park Service.

The Vanderbilt Mansion was always my favorite, so that’s the first place my dad and I went.

Now, I know I said my grandmother doesn’t live in the Vanderbilt Mansion, but she did actually live on the grounds for a brief time. The estates that lined the Hudson River employed a lot of Hyde Park residents when my grandmother was little. Her uncle was the head gardener, in charge of all the vegetables. When she was little, there were a couple months where her mother had been sick and couldn’t take care of her – so she stayed with her aunt and uncle, in one of the gardeners' houses, at the Vanderbilt Estate. Kinda cool, huh?

(Hudson River from the back of the mansion)

(front of the house)

(in the garden)

(more garden)


(tree growing out of a brick wall)


The estate has quite a few plant species that are not indigenous to the area. I’m sure there is a story as to why that is, but I don’t know it. I vaguely recall something about one of the Vanderbilts bringing them in? But I might be making that up. One of the plants that was not originally native to the area but is found in abundance on the estate grounds is the water chestnut. These aren’t the water chestnuts that you find in your moo goo gai pan – these are an “invasive” plant native to Europe and Asia. The seeds that float up and off the plants wash to shore and they look like little angry Darth Vaders. I think they are super awesome.

You can find the seeds down by the river... (in a van, down by the - just kidding - no van, just the river)



  1. Super cool history, story, & pics! Too bad you were not the photog @ our wedding~ you got major skillz homegirl (I mean HR)!

  2. Ginger,

    you have done an excellent job of collecting information and posting all these great photos!