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Lyndhurst is a Gothic revival mansion that sits on 67 acre park overlooking the Hudson river. The New York City mayor William Paulding built Lyndhurst as his retirement home with architect Alexander Davis. Work began on the structure in 1838. It was so ornate and detailed that it took 5 years to complete.
The building was unusual for its time in that it was asymmetrical and featured a lot of ornamental turrets. It has a wood frame structure with a marble facade giving it a castle-like appearance. The marble for the building was mined at Sing Sing prison in upstate New York.
The second owner, merchant George Merritt engaged the original architect to double the size of the house. The 7000 square foot addition is virtually seamless because it was all Alexander Davis’ vision.
Merritt had Italian-style murals painted on the ceiling of the drawing room near the entrance. There are twelve panels, each panel representing an hour between sunrise and sunset. Merit only spent nine years at Lyndhurst before he passed away.
The estate was then purchased by Jay Gould, a railroad tycoon. Gould lived there from 1880 until his death in 1892. Ownership of Lyndhurst then passed on to each of his children. Anna Gould, the last surviving daughter, donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961. It became a National Landmark in 1966.
My daughter and I signed up for a basic guided tour of the mansion. I was able to get discounted tickets because of my membership in the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Our guide Nathan met us at the carriage house and visitor center. There was a short film shown about the history of Lyndhurst. Then our group walked up to the mansion and toured the rooms on the ground and second floors.
The National Trust has kept one room very simple and faithful to the way it was during the time of William Paulding, the first owner.
The more ornate drawing room just off the foyer is representative of the time of George Merritt, the second owner. The rest of the house is the way it was when the Goulds lived there.
Nathan told us that Jay Gould was the most hated man in America during his time. He was a ruthless business man who caused the financial ruin, and perhaps suicides, of some of his adversaries.
But in his private life, Gould was a family man devoted to his wife and children. He took a yacht down the Hudson River every day to travel to his office in New York City. This was not an easy commute.
He returned home each evening rather than staying in his city apartment so that he could spend time with his family.
Location: 635 S Broadway, Tarrytown, NY 10591
Designation: National Historic Landmark
Date designated or established: November 13, 1966
Date of my visit: August 24, 2018