Kykuit is one of the most revered treasures within the Hudson Valley. The Kykuit Rockefeller Estate has been maintained for more than a century, illustrating just how integral the valley home was (and still is) to Rockefeller family life. Nestled on a hilltop peeking over the Hudson River and valley, Kykuit is considered one of the most beautiful, decorated American homes today.
History Image: Bryan Haeffele
Kykuit was initially designed by William Adams Delano and Chester Homes Aldrich as a three-story, steep-roofed sweeping stone estate. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (the wife of John D.’s younger brother) was a distant cousin of C.H. Aldrich and involved in the home’s interior design as an artistic consultant. The famous past of the Kykuit Rockefeller Estate includes one of the wealthiest men in American history (and the richest in his time) John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller was an industrialist and philanthropist who founded Standard Oil in 1870. He bought Kykuit and had the home redesigned into Classical Revival style in Georgian form. Complete by 1913, the home featured a multi-story basement with service tunnels and passageways that interconnect.
Interior & Gardens
Interior & Gardens Image: Mick Hales
Fine furnishings, European and Chinese art, and a large collection of 20th century art fill the home. Nelson Rockefeller, who lived in the home in 1970s, transformed the basement into an incredible art gallery with a private collection including works by Chagall, Picasso, and Warhol. In 1995, the art gallery and first floor were renovated to accommodate large tours. The upper floors were also redesigned into guest suites from their original staff quarters.
The Beaux-Art style gardens at Kykuit Rockefeler Estate are a sight to behold. It was in 1906 that landscape architect William Bosworth designed and created the outstanding terraced gardens on Kykuit grounds. They include the Japanese Garden, Morning Garden, Italian Garden, and Grand Staircase. Other notable features include the Temple of Aphrodite, The Japanese tea house and brook and fountain Oceanus, the rose garden in a semi-circular design.
Winding roads unfold into magnificent scenery featuring terraces, pavilions, classic sculpture, and fountains surrounded by idyllic gardens. Rockefeller senior completed a large part of the backdrop himself by designing special look-out spots along the roads with perfect views of the Hudson River and transplanted many trees throughout the property. The gardens also house a large collection of Nelson Rockefeller’s prized statues including avant garde, modern, and abstract sculptures.
Pocantico Estate comprises the massive 3,400 acres where Kykuit Rockefeller Estate is located. At one point it was home to more than 70 homes and an extensive workforce. It is evident money was never an object. When the United Nations formed in the mid-1950s, the family patriarch at the time donated both Fiedlwood Farm and Rockwood House to the organization. A variety of tours are available, beginning at historic Philipsburg Manor. Though a large majority of the property was previously donated to the state of New York, about a dozen families still reside within the central compound of Pocantico Estate.
Kykuit Rockefeller Estate Weddings
Kykuit Rockefeller Estate weddings are the stuff made of dreams for some. With such an incredibly beautiful backdrop of gardens rivalling many other world class gardens, many couples choose the location to unite. Both banquets and weddings are accommodated at Philipsburg Manor, Sunnyside, and the Kykuit Rockefeller Estate. Details are available at the Visitor’s Center.
Top image: Mick Hales