Built to be the family home of one of the wealthiest men in American history, Kykuit is now open for the average middle-class (and otherwise) visitor who may even catch a glimpse of one of the original owner’s relatives.
John D. Rockefeller had this extraordinary Colonial-style mansion built in 1913 on the hills overlooking Tarrytown, New York and it was to be his family’s home for four generations. The Standard Oil Company made him America’s most wealthy individual, and this opulent six-story house is a testament to his riches. Ming dynasty porcelains purchased from the collection of the financier J. P. Morgan adorned the interior, along with fine English furniture and antiques. Equipped with a private golf course and a coach barn filled with luxury horse carriages and automobiles, the industrialist spared no expense. Rockefeller imported full grown trees from Italy and surrounded the grounds with them so the common people of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow would not be able to look upon the estate. Furnished with stunning views across the Hudson Valley, Rockefeller also bought up all the land on the opposite side of the Hudson River so that no one could build houses on it and spoil his view, and donated land to form what would become the Palisades Interstate Park in New Jersey.
After Rockefeller’s death, the wealthy industrialist’s grandson and one-time governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller gathered one of the greatest private collections of modern art in America to keep in the basement. Picasso, Calder, Toulouse Lautrec, Henry Moore and Andy Warhol were just some of the priceless works kept in the private underground gallery, along with Peruvian featherwork and European sculptures.
While much of the historic house is now open to visitors, the Tudor-style family playhouse is still owned by the Rockefeller family. Nelson’s second wife, Happy Rockefeller, lived on the estate until her death in 2015.
Know Before You Go
The shuttles for Kykuit depart from Philipsburg Manor in Tarrytown.