Louise Livingston - Introduction

Louise Livingston

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Introduction

Louise Davezac Livingston (1781-1860) was herself a stylish transplant to the Hudson River Valley from the tropics.

She transformed the estate she had inherited from her husband Edward Livingston (1764-1836) into a premier example of high-style rural architecture and refined country life. The building campaign that she realized included additions to the original mansion which made it more sympathetic with its natural surroundings, other architect-designed structures, an extensive system of walking paths, elaborate gardens, and an arboretum.

She was so successful that the leading national design expert of the time, Andrew Jackson Downing, held up Montgomery Place as a model estate worthy of emulation in his publications. While few of his readers could afford to replicate such a showplace, they could draw inspiration from Montgomery Place’s fashionable structures, spectacular mountain and river views, refreshing woods, meandering pathways, and large-scale gardens.

During the mid-19th century, many Americans came to place high value on thoughtful home and yard design, because they believed it exerted a positive influence on youth, the citizens of tomorrow. They were also intrigued, particularly on the east coast, by the idea of the restorative value of tamed nature.  

Louise Davezac Livington, by Theobald Chartran. Oil on canvas, 1872 (based on a miniature painted during Louise Livingston’s lifetime). Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

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