I recently bought a country home in Staatsburg, New York. Anyone who has bought a home knows the elation and fear that comes along with such a meaningful purchase. On my very first run this past winter after purchasing my house, I ran down Old Post Road and through a pair of magnificent gates, up a hill and into the grounds of the Ogden Mills Mansion. I was thrilled to discover this incredible stately home above me. It was the most exciting discovery and I remember clearly looking at this breathtaking mansion and feeling a sense of validation and contentment.
Looking at the Ogden Mills Mansion made me realize I had done the right thing in purchasing my country home and that I was right where I was supposed to be.
I had run the estate many times since that first serendipitous run but had yet to visit the interior. This past weekend, I finally made it inside and was again over the moon to have found such a treasure in my own backyard. I certainly was not expecting the rooms to be fully furnished, complete with art and tapestries as they were. It really felt like I was immersed in Hudson Valley’s version of Downton Abbey. This particular style happens to be one of my most cherished aesthetics and one that I continue to draw inspiration from in my own work. I was lucky enough to gain access to all the private rooms that visitors do not have entry to and I was delighted to see the sweet decay of some of the interiors. With every turn, I could sense a house that was well-lived in and truly loved. Unlike the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, just 5 miles south on the Hudson which receives federal funding, the Ogden Mills Mansion is funded by the state and has an incredible amount of charm and personality. Rooms are filled with distressed silk furniture beautifully faded from years in the sunlight, paint and fabric peeling from the walls where gorgeous oil paintings and tapestries hang. In every way, I prefer the beautifully worn conditions of some of the interiors at the Mills mansion as compared to the Vanderbilt which is meticulously “done”. During my private tour at Ogden Mills, I could truly feel the life and love of a real home. I could easily imagine the house bustling with servants, guests and family in its heyday. Today, that same aura is present as the grounds and estate are being taken care of and conserved by friends and patrons who really cherish the mansion. I can not wait to become a patron and with any luck and persistence find a way to photograph my designs in this stunning location.
To learn more about Mrs. Ruth Ogden Mills and the Staatsburgh State Historic Site visit: http://millsmansion.org/visitor-information/