Lyndhurst in December.  If you squint you can just make out the tiny French hunchback they keep locked in the tower for “atmosphere”.
Why’d you wake me from my nap?

Lyndhurst is a total gem:  a Gothic Revival castle about 30 miles north of New York City, with full year round tours, beautiful grounds and entirely original furnishings and few modernizations since 1911.  Plus, in December all the rooms are decorated in fairy tale themes so if you love historic mansions and dropping acid, this is your Nirvana.

Okay, I’m interested.  Now show we what good that college degree is.

Lyndhurst’s history is actually pretty interesting and its ownership is a fair reflection of the changes to the U.S. economy from the early 1800s to the present day. The original estate was built in 1835 by a 65 year old dude named Pawling, a general during the War of 1812 and two times mayor of NYC. He funded the construction of his estate, then called Knoll, with family money (spoils of the rum trade, or illicit dalliances with King George?), and built it in the style then fashionable in Europe: faux Gothic Revival.

Gothic Revival means what you’d think: a hearkening back to the imposing grey stone construction of the 1100 and 1200s in Western Europe. Faux refers to the decorating style: painted wood and plaster to resemble marble, instead of actual marble. Vom.

So, Pawling dies after 15 years and a new millionaire, Merriit, buys the property with his textile manufacturing and railroad spring money. He too died 15 years after buying the property but not until renaming it Lindenhurst, after his favorite tree, and doubling the size of the house.

The final family to own the property, which ultimately became known as Lyndhurst, were the Goulds. Family patriarch J. Gould, one of the lesser known robber barons, made his money in railroads, and bought the property as an occasional country getaway for his wife and six children. When he died, his daughter purchased the property and lived there until SHE died. When she died, her sister, the Duchess of Tallyrand-Peridor bought the property and lived there for another several decades. At her death, she willed the property to the National Historic Trust.

Damn, that’s a lot of history.

I’m sold.  What other nerdy things should I know?

There’s a shingle style building near the water that the first daughter built in 1896 to house a bowling alley — actually the first bowling alley in the United States. It’s undergoing construction now and will be open to the public in the next year.

The logistics

The address is 635 Broadway in Tarrtown. Tickets are $12 per person and there is parking. The place is only open 10 am-4 pm on weekends, and is closed from January through April. Tours are on the half hour and the last one is at 3:30.



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