The Mansion - Introduction

The Mansion

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Introduction

The mansion has served as the centerpiece of the estate since its completion in 1805.

Aside from simply providing shelter, the house filled other functions. For the ambitious family who owned it, the structure served as a symbol of social status and political aspirations as well as a storehouse of memories and sentiment. It represented the Livingstons’ cultural affinity for France and for the ancient classical worlds of Greece and Rome. Over the years it was also an office of sorts for the early commercial nursery, a creative center for owners’ collaboration with architects and landscape gardeners, and a model for country living. The changes to the exterior and interior of the mansion point to an evolution in cultural attitudes about the role of nature and home life that extended beyond the boundaries of this particular property.

This program will explore architectural, technological, and other design changes made to the structure over the years. The interiors of the mansion, and the objects contained in it, are important to the story of this estate. They reveal how the people who lived here imagined themselves part of local, national, and international spaces and places and they provide insight into what was valued in nature and landscape. All the artifacts on display are original to the house, are the possessions of its inhabitants, and are the gift of descendent J. Dennis Delafield.

Chateau de Montgomery, by Alexander Jackson Davis. Pencil on paper, c. 1842.  Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.

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