Boscobel Restoration Boscobel is an elegant, neo-classical mansion sited high above the Hudson River in the Hudson Highlands about fifty miles north of New York City. This is where the Hudson cuts through the Appalachian mountain range, creating a rocky gorge of unparalleled beauty at what is the narrowest, deepest and most treacherous stretch of the river. Below is the Constitution Marsh Sanctuary and across the river is the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Boscobel was originally located in Montrose, New York, about fifteen miles south of the present site, with views overlooking the Hudson River at Haverstraw Bay. It was built by States Morris Dyckman (1755-1806), a descendant of one of the early Dutch families of New Amsterdam. As a Loyalist during the American Revolution, he spent eleven years in London working for the quartermasters of the British army. After his return to American in 1789, he established a comfortable life in the Hudson Valley, married in 1794 and fathered two children. It was necessary for him to return to England in late 1799 to reclaim a lost annuity set up by his former employer, the British quartermaster general. After a stay of three years, States returned in late 1803 with sufficient funds to build his dream house and live as a country gentleman.
Construction of Boscobel began in the summer of 1804, soon after States Dyckman’s return to America. Sadly, chronic illness caught up with him and he died two years later in August 1806. Only the foundation for his new house was completed. His widow, Elizabeth Corne Dyckman (1776-1823), finished the project and moved into the elegant residence in 1808 with their only surviving child, Peter Corne Dyckman (1796-1824). Although no architect has been identified for the building, it has long been recognized an outstanding example of Federal domestic architecture in America.
The house was almost destroyed during the 1950s when it was declared "excess" by the federal government and sold at auction to a demolition contractor for the sum of $35. The government had recently completed the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Veterans Administration Hospital on the original site in Montrose, New York, and could not find a suitable use for the building. The preservation of Boscobel is a tribute to the vision and persistence of Benjamin West Frazier and other individuals who were able to acquire the structure, dismantle it, and have it move piece-by-piece to its new home in Garrison, New York. With the strong personal interest and financial backing of Lila Acheson Wallace, co-founder of the Reader’s Digest, Boscobel was fully restores and opened to the public in 1961.
Today, Boscobel is considered one of the nation’s leading historic house museums. It features an important collection of decorative arts from the Federal period, with high-style furniture by Duncan Phyfe and other recognized New York cabinetmakers of the day. Much of States Dyckman’s English china, silver, glass and part of his library have also survived and are on exhibit. Collections are displayed in beautifully appointed period interiors with reproduction carpets, wallpaper, fabrics and window treatments based on contemporary sources.
Admission tickets are purchased at the Carriage House Reception Center where the tour begins. A brick walkway leads through the apple orchard to the formal rose garden with its central fountain. There are over 140 varieties of roses and 600 separate plants on display in the garden. In front of the mansion, a docent greets visitors and escorts them through Boscobel’s exquisite interiors. Following the tour, allow time to enjoy the belevedere overlook with its spectacular Hudson River views, the original springhouse, the orangery and herb garden, the gatehouse, and Boscobel’s attractive museum shop.
Situated near the springhouse, on the south side of the property, is the entrance to the Woodland Trail. First opened in October 1997, the one mile trail winds through twenty-nine acres of wooded landscape and features spectacular vistas of the river. Rustic structures made of native eastern red cedar are located along the trail, including a gazebo, bridge, benches and an octagonal summerhouse. A self-guided trail brochure is available at the Reception Center.
Nearby, visitors can explore the quaint nineteenth century of Cold Spring with its antique and specialty shops. Numerous fine restaurants are located in the immediate area. Bear Mountain State Park and historic West Point are also a short, scenic drive from Boscobel.
Throughout the year, Boscobel provides guided tours, lectures, special events, workshops and other unique programs. Boscobel’s annual Candlelight Tours held in December are considered one of the Hudson Valley’s loveliest traditions. And during the summer, the property is proud to be the site of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which presents two plays each year under a large tent on the front lawn.