KYKUIT: THE ROCKEFELLER ESTATE

SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY 

For the second adventure in my attempt to explore more in the area (see the first here), I drove up to Sleepy Hollow, NY to visit Kykuit and learn about the Rockefeller family. Kykuit, pronounced kigh-cut by the locals, means “outlook” in Dutch. This is a fitting name because the estate sits on a hilltop allowing sweeping views of the Hudson River.

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I purchased my tour ticket in advance online which I would highly recommend. A tour is required in order to spend time at the estate. There were a lot of tickets left when I purchased it the night before, but when I arrived non-ticketed visitors were being told they would have to wait 2-3 hours. A shuttle then took my group from the visitor center (located at Philipsburg Manor) to the mansion. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as soon I saw the main gates I knew that we were in for a treat. Guests are immediately greeted by The Oceanus Fountain, modeled after Giambologna’s Oceanus and the Three Rivers in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy.

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Originally built by oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, Kykuit served and was greatly enhanced by 4 generations of Rockefellers. The estate was intended to be a city escape close to NYC, but some members of the family, like Nelson Rockefeller (former Governor of NY and VP of the United States), lived there as their primary residence. Our tour guide did an excellent job of giving us the chronology of the estate and sharing anecdotes about the family.

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I was on the Classic Tour, which showcased the main floor of the mansion, the inner garden, the west terrace, the coach barn, and one of the basements. Yes, there are multiple basements in the mansion, one of which is an art gallery. The most unique pieces (IMO) are giant tapestries that are woven reproductions of paintings by Picasso, created with his approval.

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After Kykuit, I closed out my very Rockefeller day at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills, a church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. This humble church contains Matisse’s last work, honoring Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and nine Chagall windows. The Chagalls also memorialize different members of the Rockefeller family with the largest one depicting the parable of the Good Samaritan, honoring John D. Rockefeller Jr. Photography isn’t allowed inside the the church (or inside the mansion) so go see it in person!

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Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate / Enter from: 381 N. Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY / Tour prices vary, see website. Classic Tour – $25 weekdays, $28 weekends. See website for more tour options.

Union Church of Pocantico Hills / 555 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591 / Admission: $7 ($6 if you come from Kykuit)

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