As winter finally sheds its fickle grip over New York, we finally made our first exploration trip outside of the city that didn’t involve running. Getting out of the city doesn’t require a car or hundreds of dollars for the tolls. It just needs making it to the MetroNorth on time, which runs every hour off-peak on the weekend.
As a lover of history, especially the Georgian and Regency period, Boscobel has been one of the New York grand houses I’ve wanted to visit for awhile.
The website to Boscobel is surprisingly well organized and detail, especially for city trekkers like myself.
Catching the Poughkeepsie train at 8:43AM, we caught a slightly express train, making it to Cold Spring, the 7th stop outside the city, at about 10:05AM. An round trip ticket was only $28! Better than renting a car.
Cold Spring is a superbly cute, picturesque village! It is a haven for hipsters! Antique shops line Main Street with gastronomic sounding restaurants and cafes. Since we were early arrivers, the street was mostly empty but fear not, by afternoon, the street was milling with students, tourists, yoga moms, and locals.
We grabbed a quick cappuccino and hot chocolate from Cuppoccino. I chose this place only because the name was cute. The drinks were not so spectacular. Hot chocolate tasted like a Swiss Mix package. Alas, I need to avoid cutesy-named coffee shops.
Off Main Street, we turned on Chestnut St and made it NY9S, which as the website said, there is no sidewalk. It is a mile walk on gravel and car shoulder lanes. We spotted one more walker so we weren’t the only walker on the street. He waved at us! (You never see that in the city.)
Be careful walking this street. Despite the sign saying 30MPH, it felt like the car sped past us like a passing squall.
We made it to Boscobel by 11AM and caught the 1130AM house tour, while garden tour is self guided.
Like most of the Hudson Valley historical homes, the grounds is just spectacular with views of the Hudson River that looks like it came out of a romantic painting.
Boscobel was originally in Montrose and had to be moved in the 1950s when our wonderful government decided it was frivolous home and they needed the ground for parks and military need. This was also the same time New York City also demolished the beautiful Penn Station. Such a shame.
The first reconstruction was designed to how some designers wanted it to look like. Eventually in the 60s, a curator from the Met decided, nope, this is not historically accurate. And he went about and redid the house to look like it would have when it was originally built.
The house was built by a Georgian loyalist (also a sleaze ball who stole money to build his wealth). What else is new? He named the house after an area in England that has a specific oak tree he loved. But it was his wife, the Lady Dykeman who really designed the house. Her influence in the house is seen in the hassle, bow knot, and curtain that hangs over the entrance on the house. This motif is used in the signage and logo of the house on the website.
Many of the reconstruction of the house is made the same way they were made in the 1800s, like the wallpapers in rectangle sheets instead of rolls. Many of the items in the house were original pieces obtained at auctions or from collectors. There are also items that were from the era not par to the house but made to feel like the house. A few modern pieces are scattered through the house to guide a visitor to view the exhibit for modern furnitures made by contemporary Hudson Valley furniture makers.
The upstairs only has 3 bedrooms. Most people who visited the family came for parties but stayed elsewhere. In the study, there’s a complete set of Brittanica Encyclopedia…all 10. There were no such thing as Wikipedia.
Even the globe shows a North America, without a USA! Alas, these homes are too large to maintain and the house up until the end of the Civil War was handled by a miscreant husband who married into the family, destroying the wealth. It’s the same old story you constantly hear from this time period.
At the end of the tour, our guide gave us cookies and lemonade as he showed us the kitchen. A house like Boscobel cannot function without some ingenious kitchen tools. One item which I thought was amazing was the meat cooker which uses a clock turner to spin the meat in front of a fireplace without the need of a person having the sit and spin in front of the fireplace! Imagine summer in the kitchen…
We took a brief reprieve on a nearby bench, walked the lawn and garden, saw a wedding being prepped, and enjoyed the sun before heading back to town as dark skies rolled in. It was a perfect day.
For a late lunch, we stopped by Le Bouchon Brasserie, which looked like it was run by some teenagers on spring break. The mussels and fries with bacon and cream sauce was superb. Not salty at all! Even the escargot and Spätzle mac and cheese was perfect portion. The price wasn’t so bad but it was definitely more on the high end for a small town.
Before heading back to the city, we stopped by Moo Moo’s Ice Creamer: The World’s Best Ice Cream. There was a short line when we went and after we got our cookie dough ice cream, the line was down the porch.
Was it the best ice cream? I can’t help but compare it to Kimball’s Farm. It was probably a dollar more than Kimball’s Farm cup and the “big scoop” is smaller than Kimball’s Farm and I didn’t think it was that great. It was a good vanilla ice cream scoop but I didn’t think they mixed the cookie dough well into the mixture. I wanted more cookie dough like the ones in Ben & Jerry’s.
Did I forget to mention that the nuclear power plant on Indian Island is not too far? I saw a sign that mentioned “if you hear a siren, find shelter but you do not need to evacuate.” Hmm…
I will definitely go back, if not to explore more restaurants and to also get lost on the grounds of Boscobel which is much larger than you can see.