In the Dutchess County Spotlight
Vanderbilt Mansion Reveals New Tour
If you're a fan of Downton Abbey or remember the Masterpiece Theater classic Upstairs, Downstairs, this tour is for you! The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site is offering a new experiential tour called "At Your Service: Behind the Scenes at Vanderbilt Mansion". This program offers a unique perspective to visitors; that of being in service to the wealthiest family in America. Once a seasonal residence for Frederick W. Vanderbilt, grandson of "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, and his wife Louise, they lived at Hyde Park only in the spring and fall. A staff of 60 or more was required to maintain the sizeable house and grounds, with its gardens and farm, year-round.
All of the visitors on your tour take an interactive part, as they participate in their assigned roles of various family servants. You'll all learn about your place in the meticulous running of the Vanderbilt household, as you tour the home from the basement up.
"At Your Services" is offered at 2pm on Saturdays
and Sundays from now through the end of October. Going on this special tour
allows you to see places previous visitors rarely, if ever, got to see, in
the basement and on the third floor. It's perfect if you're a returning visitor!
The magnificent beaux-arts limestone palace is the work of important architects including McKim, Mead, and White. Exquisite Italian marble is used extensively in the mansion's interior, which is furnished in Italian and French motifs, and boasts tapestries and art treasures from around the globe. The Vanderbilts entertained at long dinner parties, drawing guests from America's wealthiest families and European nobility. Vanderbilt Mansion's interiors, mechanical systems, and landscape are a remarkably complete example of a Gilded-Age country place, illustrating the economic, cultural, and demographic changes happening as the US industrialized after the Civil War. The mansion and its contents have remained largely unchanged. It took a team of laundresses, maids, cooks, "daymen", plus a butler and housekeeper, and gardeners outside, to run such a showplace.
"At Your Service" does require visitors to climb 74 stairs; the silver spiral ones in the back of the house, not the grand red-carpeted stairs from the marble entrance hall. Please wear comfortable shoes; the stairs are not handicapped accessible.
For reservations call 845-229-7770 between 10am and 5pm. Tickets are also sold on the day of the program on a "first come, first serve" basis. Tickets are $8; those under age 16 are admitted free. This program is not appropriate for children younger than 10. Visit www.NPS.gov/VAMA for more information.