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19th Century Ghosts

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Historic Houses

Olana: A Historic Painter’s Paradise on the Hudson

Only an artist could dream up a house like Olana, the Victorian Middle Eastern-style home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church. The artistic oasis overlooks the Hudson River and it’s easy to see what drew Frederic Church to the landscape all those years ago. Today, visitors flock to the site to marvel at both the landscape and what lies within Olana’s beautiful archways.

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Staatsburgh State Historic Site (Mills Mansion)

Among the many historic houses dotting New York’s Hudson Valley, Staatsburgh State Historic Site is a must-see. Otherwise known as the Mills Mansion, this Gilded Age beauty was the home of financier and philanthropist Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills. Originally a Greek Revival house, it was expanded and enhanced in the Beaux-Arts style in the 1890s.

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Rockwood Mansion in Wilmington, DE

If you’re ever lucky enough to go historic house hopping in Delaware, Rockwood Mansion would be a nice addition to your list. That is, if you’re in the mood for strolling the surrounding park grounds and admiring the architecture. To be brutally honest, this house museum is best appreciated from the outside…

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Nemours Mansion & Garden, a Historically Modern Marvel

Delaware’s Brandywine Valley is home to many beautiful historic houses. Dare I say that, among these many fine structures, the grandeur of Nemours Mansion & Gardens rivals them all (even the nearby Winterthur Museum). Having toured both, Nemours left me more in awe. I went on a humid Saturday in July and that afternoon’s downpour added a magical glisten to the facade and grounds.

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Cape May Victorian Weekend

Every October Cape May, NJ hosts “Victorian Weekend,” which promises to be a sort of portal to the past. While visitors can admire the quaint Victorian houses anytime of the year, this particular weekend has an itinerary full of murder mystery dinners, a fashion show, croquet, parlor games, and thematic walking tours.

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Historic and Ghostly Fort Hancock

 

A near ghost town awaits your visit in the Jersey Shore’s north end. Here in Sandy Hook, among New Jersey’s finest beaches and hiking trails, lies a cluster of historic structures that have very much weathered the sands of time.

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The Victorian Cottages of New Brighton, Staten Island

Nestled in the New Brighton neighborhood of Staten Island are a small number of quaint, Victorian cottages, vestiges of one of America’s earliest suburban developments. Eleven of the original houses still stand. One beautiful Saturday in September I did a walking tour with Victorian Society in America and got to see these beautiful houses in person. I even got to tour three of them!

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Singer Castle of the Thousand Islands: A Storybook Dream

Singer Castle on Dark Island of the Thousand Islands is a marvel straight out of a storybook. Literally! The architect, Ernest Flagg (1857-1947), based his design around the medieval castle depicted in Sir Walter Scott’s 1832 novel Woodstock.

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Boldt Castle of the Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands are a wonder in their own right. But two majestic architectural specimens residing within them deserve special attention: Boldt and Singer castles. In the Gilded Age the nation’s wealthiest flocked to the Thousand Islands for their summer retreats. Boldt Castle and Singer Castle are what remain of this era. Each, in its own way, is straight out of a fairytale. This first of two posts concerns Boldt Castle.

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