In the Dutchess County Spotlight
Locust Grove Estate
1st Person Tour Experience by AJ Pesacov
Stepping inside the Visitors Center building, to the right is a quaint little gift shop where you can buy all sorts of gifts and books, but down the hall to the left is the Samuel F.B. Morse Gallery, as well as an art display along the walls. Inside the Samuel F.B. Morse Gallery are many portraits that Morse painted, as well as many telegraphing devices that he developed. In 2006 Locust Grove opened its doors to exhibits by contemporary local artists whose art reflects the Hudson Valley River School of Art, which was favorite by the Young family; they moved into the estate two decades after the death of Samuel Morse, in 1895.
The first part of my tour started in a large room in the main building, where an informative video about the history of the estate was played. The video was very detailed but moved along at a good pace, as to not keep us sitting there too long. On display also in the room were old dresses worn by the women of the age, and it was nice to be able to examine them so close up. After the video, a short walk to the main house took us through the lush estate gardens along nice gravel paths. The gardens are well-manicured, and there are many paths, so after the tour it's easy to stroll through the grounds for quite a while, seeing the different plants and flowers that each path has on display. (There's even an heirloom vegetable garden, and the vegetables are used in the 3rd Thursday monthly food & wine event Sunset Sensations).
As we reached the house, our tour guide was waiting at the front door. Upon entering the house it really feels like you are stepping back in time to the 1800s. Luckily for me, the couple I was on the tour with were a lot more knowledgeable about the era than I, so they had many interesting questions, from the type of wood used for the walls, to the material of the plates and glasses used by the family - which are perfectly preserved! I learned many things you wouldn't know if you did not visit. On display were a collection of Krieghoff paintings; Krieghoff is a famous Canadian painter who painted wonderful images of the Canadian landscape.
What I thought was the most interesting feature in the house (besides the billiards room on the second floor), was the extensive library on the first. Walking around the house I would always stop and read the titles of the books on the many bookcases throughout the house to see what kind of books were being read in 1800s. Our tour guide told us of the changes in the house, between when Morse lived there, compared to the Young family. We saw the basement where the servants stayed and worked the kitchen, as well as the "new" advancements of the time in garment cleaning technology.
After the tour, we were on our own, and I took the time to wander the grounds a bit. The gardens really are beautiful and very well taken care of. From the back door of the house you can see the Hudson River. There is an Ice House, a Carriage House and even a pet cemetery! At the main building be sure to grab a Trail Guide so you know where you are going. The grounds are very extensive and there is much to see.
The tour was very informative and nice. The surrounding area is beautiful, and great to walk around in. Again, the biggest thing for me was that I was so close to Route 9 and yet felt so removed from the car traffic that rumbles along all day. Overall it's a great way to spend a few hours, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different.
Locust Grove is a 180-acre National Historic Landmark, museum, education center and nature preserve located on Rt. 9 in Poughkeepsie, New York, just 2 miles south of the Mid-Hudson Bridge. For more information about hours or special events, visit www.lgny.org or call 845 454-4500.