A holiday scene at Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park.  Courtesy: Bill Urbin, National Park Service.
A holiday scene at Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park. Courtesy: Bill Urbin, National Park Service.

Local estates make spirits bright

Stately homes decking the halls with holiday treats

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It’s holiday time at the grand estates in the area. And you’re invited.

From story-telling to tea parties and candle-light tours — amid holiday trees decorated in seasonal splendor — the stately and historic homes along the Hudson are offering an assortment of enticing events for both kids and adults.

At the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, the National Park Service will be holding an open house on Sat., Dec. 14. The home of the 32nd President of the United States will be historically decorated and visitors will be able to view the home free from 9am to 5pm.

As a special treat, FDR impersonator, Preston Gifford, Jr., will read excerpts from Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” in the living room of the home from 2pm until 4pm.

At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, there will also be an open house on Dec. 14 from noon to 4pm, with a children’s reading festival, as well as photos with Santa. Children can also make holiday cards for sailors who serve on the USS Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Park Service is also hosting an open house Dec. 14 at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site on the same day from 4pm to 7pm. Visitors to the former First Lady’s home will learn how she celebrated her favorite holiday. Refreshments will be served in the stone cottage.

At the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, otherwise called the “country palace” of Frederick William Vanderbilt, the National Park Service is hosting a Christmas Open House Sun., Dec. 8 from 11am to 4pm.

Admission is free, and visitors are encouraged to wear holiday clothes, bring a camera and pose for a holiday photo in front of the mansion’s Elliptical Hall Christmas tree.

Refreshments at the Visitor Center are courtesy of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association.

In Staatsburg, the Staatsburgh Historic Site is hosting “A Gilded Age Christmas,” which features tours of the 1800s Greek Revival mansion owned by the Mills family and formerly called Mills Mansion. The house has been decorated lavishly for the period it was built in.

The tours run Thursdays through Sundays from noon to 4pm, with extra hours added during late December.

In Rhinebeck, the Wilderstein Historic Site at 330 Morton Road has weekend tours of the gaily decorated mansion through December, from 1pm to 4pm, with complimentary hot mulled cider and cookies afterwards.

As a special treat, Wilderstein is once again offering its Yuletide Tea on Sat., Dec. 14 at 1pm. This annual event is a mainstay for tea enthusiasts from around the region, offering a glimpse of what tea time was like during the Victorian era: fine tea, homemade cakes, cookies and finger sandwiches.

Historian and former state deputy commissioner for historic preservation Wint Aldrich will be the featured speaker at the tea. Early reservations are recommended, as seating tends to fill up quickly.

And up in Germantown, the Clermont Historic Site, home to the Livingston family, will have a special reading of children’s stories, complete with treats, under the Christmas tree in the house on Sat., Dec. 7 and Sun., Dec. 8 from 10am to noon. The event, “A Child’s Christmas” is for kids 3 to 10 years old, and costs $4 per person.

Clermont will also host a Christmas Open House, with free admission, on Sat., Dec. 14 from 11 am to 4pm. That will be followed by a Friends of Clermont Holiday Party, from 5:30pm-7:30 pm. Free for members; guests $10

On Sun., Dec. 15, the mansion will be open for Candlelight Tours from 3pm to 6pm.

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