If you still need some holiday inspiration it isn’t too late to fit in a visit to one of New York’s festively adorned historic house museums.
Worth visiting year round, many historic houses are particularly awe-inspiring during the festive season. Period rooms are transformed with garland, trees and ornaments, and special programs provide a dose of historical knowledge along with the decor.
We’ve rounded up five houses that have decked their halls for the holidays. They cover a range of time periods and architectural styles, from an 18th century Georgian-style stone house to a massive Beaux Arts mansion. We’ve included one within the five boroughs and the rest can be found no more than three hours from Brooklyn.
1. Staatsburgh State Historic Site, Staatsburg, N.Y.
Celebrate a Gilded Age-style Christmas at Staatsburgh. Also known as Mills Mansion, the once Greek Revival style home was transformed in 1896 into a Beaux Arts Mansion by McKim, Mead and White. The historic site embraces the lavishness of the era with a turn-of-the-century decor and a striking Christmas tree.
The holiday decor will be on display until December 31 and touring is open Thursday through Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. Children can also hunt through the house looking for clues to solve a history mystery in a special program offered on Sundays in December. For more information, including admission costs, visit the museum event page.
2. 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.
3. 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 till December 30 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 Wednesdays through Sundays at 1 and 3 p.m. For all the details visit their website.
4. 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 rooms of the historic mansion have been given a lush holiday makeover by local florists and designers. 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 30. For more information visit their event calendar.
5. Van Cortlandt House, Bronx, N.Y.
If you want to stay in the five boroughs but still do some time travelling, there’s the Van Cortlandt House set in the more than a thousand acre Van Cortlandt Park. Begun in 1748, the fieldstone house was in family hands until 1887. Family life was disrupted during the Revolutionary War when the house was commandeered for use at different points by Washington, Lafayette and Rochambeau. One of the oldest historic house museums in the city, it opened to the public in 1897.
This season, the house is exploring the Dutch and English holiday traditions followed by the family, including Sinterklaas Day, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Twelfth Night celebrations. The decor will be on view until January 6. The house is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information on admission and other holiday programs, visit the Van Cortlandt House Museum website.
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