know as the Mills Mansion, is an elegant example
of the great estates built by America's financial
and industrial leaders during the Gilded Age.
This period, also known as the American Renaissance,
lasted approximately from 1876 to 1917, and
was marked by America's rapid economic growth
and emergence as a world power.
The 1,600 acre estate
was originally purchased in 1792 by Morgan Lewis,
Quartermaster General of the Northern Continental
Army during the American Revolution, later becoming
the 3rd Governor of New York. His great-granddaughter,
Ruth Livingston, heir to the estate, married
Ogden Mills, noted financier and philanthropist,
heir to a family fortune based on investments
in banks and railroads in California during
the Gold Rush.
In 1895, Ruth and
Ogden Mills commissioned the prestigious firm
of McKim, Mead and White to remodel and enlarge
the existing home in Staatsburg. In 1896 the
home was transformed into a Beaux Arts mansion
of 65 rooms. Its exterior was embellished with
balustrades, pilasters, floral swags and a massive
portico. The rooms were furnished with elaborately
carved and gilded furniture, fine oriental rugs,
silk fabrics and a collection of art objects
from Europe, ancient Greece and the Far East.
Pride in family heritage was demonstrated in
the prominent display of portraits of Mrs. Mills's
ancestors. It is this combination of a taste
for European grandeur with a reverence for American
heritage that makes Mills Mansion a quintessential
American Renaissance residence.
Mills Mansion is
a New York State Historic Site, now located
within the boundaries of the Mills-Norris State
Park. Guided tours of the mansion are available
from mid-April through Labor Day on Wednesdays
to Saturdays from 10am till 5pm and on Sundays
from Noon till 5pm. The Mills-Norris State Park
is open daily.