Thursday, July 23, 2009

Olana on the Hudson

Everyone who has traveled over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge notices the large home perched on top of the hillside, Olana, the Persian-inspired residence of Hudson River School artist Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900). Church designed the home and its surrounding landscape on the site where he painted as a young man with his mentor Hudson River School founder, Thomas Cole. The residence, equally impressive close up as from a distance, remains as it was during Church's lifetime thanks to its stature as a National Historic Landmark.
The building's exterior is a bit intimidating on several elevations, but is softened by the ornate details of the crown moldings and the Moorish doorways. Not surprisingly, some of the best angles of the building are the ones facing the Hudson due to the porches and balconies meant to capitalize on the stunning view.
A walk through the grounds shows an equal attention to details. With its well-tended flower gardens and its specimen trees, it didn't disappoint us too much that the house wasn't open to the public when we showed up on a Monday. Instead, the kids and I delighted in watching the butterflies flutter around in the sunshine. The interiors will have to wait for another day.

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