Crum Elbow Creek in winter

The Vanderbilts

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After David Hosack's death in 1837 the property was sold to the Langan family. The Vanderbilts subsequently acquired the property in 1895 and constructed their famous mansion, but also a stone farmhouse known as the Howard Mansion, designed and built in 1896 by McKim, Mead & White, the famed New York City architects. The house was commissioned by F. W. Vanderbilt for his niece, Rose Post, who married Thomas Howard, probably in the early 1890's.

During his ownership of the property, Frederick Vanderbilt made several improvements to the surrounding landscape, such as the installation of a stately stand of pine trees, construction of the outer buildings, and the cultivation of the farm complex. A carriage house was constructed as were a series of service building to the northeast. In 1905, they built a stone bridge on the property that was rebuilt in 2001, as part of the landscape restoration. The new bridge and stand of pines can be partially seen in the photo at left.

A large addition to the house, which nearly doubled its size, was built around 1900, presumably before the death of Thomas Howard in 1904, at age 45. The North wing of the house was a Tudor style addition with stucco and half-timbered treatments on the exterior. On the first floor there was a large kitchen and laundry room. The second floor were several guest bedrooms and one full bathroom. Additional staff quarters were on the third floor.

Regrettably, the house has suffered fire damage, twice in the past, initially in June 1962 when it was hit by lighting, which destroyed part of the roof and burned several rooms. The damage was repaired and the house was sold to The Anderson school, for use as a dormitory. Another fire, a few years later, destroyed the entire Tudor style addition, leaving the house in its original configuration. Several parts of the original house have remained as they were during the Vanderbilt era.

The property was abandoned in 1918, when it was said, Mrs. Howard departed the morning after a burglary and never returned. The house was boarded up and sat vacant until the 1950's, subject to vandalism and neglect. The main wing of the house was restored in 1956 by the Vaughn's. Other repairs were made after the subsequent fire. The Anderson School sold the property in the 1970's to a private owner; it subsequently had two other private owners.

In 2001, the current owners started a large-scale renovation of the house which was completed in 2008. The restoration was based on historic documents and the rediscovered architectural drawings. Certain parts remain absolutely original, with other parts adapted for modern use.

The landscape of the property contains original carriage trails from the Vanderbilt era. These trails go through a forest that has streams, ponds, meadows, marshland, and other natural features. The landscape and carriage trails became overgrown over time, but efforts are underway to restore the land to its former beauty. The remains of stone walls are still visible on the property, as are specimen trees planted by the Vanderbilts.

More information about the Vanderbilts and their Hyde Park, NY property can be found at the Vanderbilt Mansion website.