6 Historic Houses to Visit That Are All Dressed Up for the Holidays


    The holiday season is upon us but there is still time to feast your eyes on some inspirational holiday splendor at one of New York’s historic sites.

    While they are fascinating any time of year, many historic houses shine during December with festively adorned period rooms and special tours and programs. We’ve rounded up six houses that are worth a visit, from the home of a founding father to a quirky octagonal masterpiece.


    The house in 2016. Photo via Wilderstein

    1. Wilderstein, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

    An elaborate Queen Anne-style mansion, Wilderstein was home to three generations of the Suckley family. The last family member to live in the house, Daisy Suckley, a cousin and close friend of FDR, left behind furniture, photos, books, letters and artwork, allowing the museum to tell the full tale of one family.

    The restored rooms of the first floor of the historic mansion have been given a lush holiday makeover. Visitors can tour the decked-out rooms at their own pace, with guides available to answer questions in each room. The house is open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until December 29. For more information visit their event calendar.

    2. Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, N.Y.

    Built between 1804 and 1808, Boscobel is one of the country’s premier examples of Federal architecture. It’s beautifully restored and furnished with outstanding pieces from the leading furniture makers of the early 19th century. The architectural jewel is set within more than 60 acres of land with dramatic views of the Hudson River, woodland trails and garden paths.

    The house is adorned for a 19th century holiday with special tours offered until January 5. Daytime tours are available Wednesdays through Mondays but you can also get a special evening view of the house. The remaining Twilight Tours take place from December 6 through 8 and advanced ticket purchase is recommended. For full information on available tour times and ticket prices visit the event page online.

    3. John Jay Homestead, Katonah, N.Y.
    After decades of public service, the 18th century statesman retired to his farm in Westchester County, moving into a house that was remodeled in time for his arrival in 1801. The house stayed in family hands until the 1950s when it was purchased and opened to the public as a New York State Historic Site. The over 60-acre site also includes outbuildings, gardens and woodland trails.

    Throughout December visitors can explore the holiday traditions of the 1820s with special guided tours. Day time tours are offered Thursdays through Saturdays at 1 and 3 p.m. If you want to see the house by the glow of candlelight you can take an evening tour Thursday through Sunday evenings with multiple tour times each night. Tickets for the day and night tours are limited so advanced purchase is recommended. For the available dates and details check out their online calendar of events.

    armour stiner

    The Armour-Stiner Octagon House circa 1975. Photo by Historic American Building Survey via Library of Congress

    4. The Armour-Stiner Octagon House, Irvington, N.Y.
    It’s an architectural standout and for the holidays you can get a look inside the unusual 1870s manse. The restored interior, already a decorative wonder, is decked out for “A Victorian Christmas” event with holiday decor and costumed actors interpreting Washington Irving’s Old Christmas.

    The hour-long tours are available on Fridays and Saturdays from December 6 through 21. Tickets are required and should be purchased in advance online. For full details and to check for tour availability visit the event page online.

    5. Lyndhurst, Tarrytown, N.Y.
    Constructed in 1838, Lyndhurst is a dramatic Gothic Revival estate designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, a giant of early 19th century American architecture. The house was purchased by railroad magnate Jay Gould in the 1880s and is decked out with dozens of trees, elaborate table settings and other decorations during the holiday season. It’s also when the curators pull out some rarely viewed objects belonging to the Goulds.

    To see the objects before they are packed back up, visit before December 30. The house is open for hourly guided tours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Thursday through Mondays. The holiday tours do sell out, so buying tickets in advance is recommended. For more info on available dates, visit their holiday event page.

    historic house yonkers

    Photo via the Hudson River Museum

    6. Glenview Historic Home, Yonkers N.Y.
    A riverside home built in 1877 for the Wall Street banker John Bond Trevor and his family, the house is now part of the Hudson River Museum of Yonkers. During the season, the house is exuberantly decorated, with trees and ornaments in every room, down to miniature seasonal trimming in the historic dollhouse.

    The decorations are up through December and the house is open for self-guided tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. You can also catch a guided tour on Wednesdays through Fridays at 1 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m. For all the details visit their website.

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