Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Staatsburgh State Historic Site

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Address
Old Post Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
Latitude 41.856617
Longitude -73.929749

Staatsburgh State Historic Site is the elegant country home of Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston Mills. Sitting atop a grassy hill overlooking the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains, their house is a fine example of a great estate built by America's financial and industrial leaders during the Gilded Age (1876 - 1917). Also known as the American Renaissance, this period in American history was marked by America's rapid economic growth and emergence as a world power. Darius Ogden Mills, father of Ogden Mills, established the family fortune by investing in banks, railroads and mines. Ogden Mills, like his father, was a noted financier and philanthropist. In 1882 he married Ruth Livingston, whose family had been prominent landowners in the Hudson Valley since the 17th century. In 1890, Ruth Livingston Mills inherited her childhood home and property which had once belonged to her great-grandfather, Morgan Lewis, the third governor of New York State.


In the 1890s Mr. & Mrs. Mills commissioned the prestigious New York City architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to remodel and enlarge their home. Work began in 1895 and when completed in 1896, the house had been transformed from a 25-room Greek Revival style home into a Beaux-Arts mansion of 65 rooms and 14 bathrooms. Although the interior was lavishly decorated, mostly in the styles of 17th and 18th-century France, many architectural features of the earlier Livingston home such as the all the trims, moldings and many of the fireplaces had been preserved. This melding of grandeur and heritage is characteristic of the American Renaissance period. Owning five homes, the Mills family resided in their Staatsburg home primarily in the fall and entertained as many as 80 guests at a time. The home and surrounding property was passed to their son, Ogden Livingston Mills in 1929. After his death in 1937 his sister Gladys Mills Phipps inherited the property and in 1938 donated the house and 192 acres of the estate to the State of New York as a memorial to her parents.

Today the elegant mansion, restored to its turn-of-the-century appearance, is open for tours and the house and grounds offer special events throughout the year.

Don't miss these popular destinations and attractions within or near the historic site

  • Staatsburgh's Gift Shop-consistently rated in the Top 10 of Dutchess County's best gift shops.  Find historical items for everyone on your gift list!
  • Atlantic Kayak Tours-offering different kayak tours and instructional programs.
  • NYS DEC Norrie Point Environmental Education Center-offers a variety of of activities and events:  school programs, lectures, workshops, and training for regional professionals making decisions that affect the estuary and educational canoe programs.
  • Riverfront Pavilion-holding up to 50 people and equipped with an indoor oven, it is the perfect spot to hold barbeques and get-togethers.  Get there early-the pavilion isn't reservable.
  • Ogden Mills and Ruth Livingston Mills State Park-miles of river trails, expansive picnic areas and historic houses.


Mailing Address
P.O. Box 308Staatsburg, NY 12580

Hours of Operation

  • Guided Tours

    April 15 through October 30, 2016: Thursday-Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm, last tour at 4pm. Closed Easter. Open Monday holidays.

    *Note that although the site is open Thurs.-Sun., the site will be opening for guided tours on a Friday (April 15th.)

    November 1 – Thanksgiving: Closed for Holiday Decorating.

    Day after Thanksgiving – December 31: Thursday – Sunday, Noon to 4pm, last tour at 3pm; closed December 24 and 25; open every day December 26-31.

    January – March: group tours and school groups by appointment. 

  • Educational Programs, School Groups & Group Tours:
    Available year-round, by appointment. Call for details.
  • Daily Use Activities: When in season.
    Hiking, biking, fishing, XC skiing, sledding, fishing.

Fees & Rates

Historic sites charge a vehicle use fee and/or admittance fee at various times and locations throughout the year. A list of fees is available below. For program fees or to verify information, please contact the site directly.

  • Admission
  • $8 Adults
    $6 Students/Seniors
    $6 Groups of 10 or more
    $10/$8 Special Theme Tours
    Children 12 and under free

  • Educational Programs
  • On-site: $2/student
    Off-site: $50/class/visit
  • Rental
  • West Lawn $150-$500

EDUCATION PROGRAMS AT STAATSBURGH STATE HISTORIC SITE

Staatsburgh is a 79-room, lavishly furnished 1895 Gilded Age country estate on the Hudson River. It is an unforgettable classroom where students explore the world of 100 years ago. Depending on their grade level, they may learn about the lifestyles of Gilded Age millionaires and servants; about immigration and industrialization; or how the estate was an independent community.

Our interpreters present lively and interactive programs that are age-appropriate for students from 2nd grade to college, and craft the presentations to meet Common Core and NYS Learning Standards. Hands-on activities and roleplaying make our programs fun and memorable.

Our staff is happy to work with teachers to adjust our programs or create new ones to meet curriculum needs.

COST: Our fee is $2 per student. There is no charge for teachers.

GRANT OPPORTUNITY: The Countess Moira Charitable Foundation, named for a granddaughter of the family that lived at Staatsburgh, generously provides a grant to pay for education program fees and for the cost to bus students to the site. Please call Staatsburgh (845-889-8851 x 338) to inquire about availability.

OUR PROGRAMS:

IT'S A GILDED LIFE
4th Grade to College (with age-appropriate revisions)

Students learn how life was lived in a Gilded Age mansion 100 years ago. First, the students tour the opulent 79-room home of Ogden and Ruth Livingston Mills. Then they are assigned roles as servants, guests or family members. Hands-on activities allow them to compare and contrast the lives of the servants and the gentry.

Background: Staatsburgh State Historic Site, also known as Mills Mansion, is a time-capsule of a vanished age. Here at the ancestral home of Ruth Livingston Mills, she and her husband Ogden Mills entertained the elite of New York Society from the 1880s to the 1920s in the period of American History known as the Gilded Age. The Millses thought of themselves as American aristocrats, modeling their lifestyle on the lifestyles of European nobility.

The Program: The introduction uses period photos to engage students in a discussion of what life was like 100 years ago, both for ordinary folk and for the wealthy Millses. As the discussion progresses, students are invited to think about why the Millses lived such an extravagant lifestyle. Students discuss why Mrs. Mills expanded her 25-room house to 79-rooms, what the rooms were used for and by whom. As students learn how the house was used, they are introduced to the component members of the Staatsburgh community.

A tour of the mansion shows the students what it was like to be a guest of the Millses. Hands-on activities and role playing allow the students to explore the world of the servants and compare it with the life of the gentry.

The activities vary with the age of the students. 4th grade students become servants as they prepare the formal dining room for the guests, contrasting the luxurious arrangements for the guests with the utilitarian arrangements for the servants. Older students will interview for a servants' job, exploring turn-of-the-century attitudes and prejudices about immigrants. As a sharp contrast to the servants' life, they will then learn the etiquette of attending a Gilded Age ball and compare it to going to a modern party.

 

WORLD COMMUNITIES: MEET THE KING AND QUEEN OF ENGLAND
3rd Grade Etiquette Program

Through discussion and role-playing activities, students will learn etiquette practices that were expected when attending a formal visit to Staatsburgh. They will discuss examples of modern good manners and compare them to customs at Staatsburgh 100 years ago. Then they will put their skills to work as they learn the etiquette of being presented to the King and Queen.

Background: Staatsburgh State Historic Site, also known as Mills Mansion, is a time-capsule of a vanished age. Here at the ancestral home of Ruth Livingston Mills, she and her husband Ogden Mills entertained the elite of New York Society from the 1880s to the 1920s in the period of American History known as the Gilded Age. The Millses thought of themselves as American aristocrats, modeling their lifestyle on the lifestyles of European nobility.

Etiquette was a foundation of the Millses' aristocratic lifestyle. The Millses and their social set learned elaborate rules of behavior from an early age. These rules guided them through the rituals of daily life, as well as teaching them what to do on very special occasions...such as meeting the King of England.

The Millses met King Edward at Wrest Park, an English country home, in 1909. Wrest Park was being rented by Ogden Mills' brother-in-law, Whitelaw Reid, the American Ambassador to England. The Mills family had other connections to the King: Ruth Livingston Mills' sister married a close friend of the King, and the Millses' daughter Beatrice married King Edward's Master of Horse.

The Program: Through discussion and role-playing activities, the children will learn etiquette practices that were expected when attending a formal visit in the Gilded Age. They will discuss examples of modern good manners and compare them to Gilded Age practices.

Then the students will put their etiquette skills to work. The students will adjourn to the dining room, where they will compare the etiquette of a Gilded Age formal dinner with modern polite dinner table behavior.

With their Gilded Age etiquette skills now sharpened, the students will be presented at court. A student playing the butler will announce the other students as they arrive. They will offer polite greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Mills (also played by students). Then they will be presented to the Gilded Age royal couple, King Edward and Queen Alexandra of England (once again, played by students). The students will compare and contrast the polite manner of greeting the Millses with the much more formal etiquette of meeting royalty.

 

THE STAATSBURGH COMMUNITY
2nd GRADE PROGRAM

Staatsburgh, a Gilded Age estate, was an interdependent community. Discussion, period photos, map activities and roleplaying help students understand each community member's role and how they depended on one another.

Background: Staatsburgh State Historic Site, also known as Mills Mansion, is a time-capsule of a vanished age. Here at the ancestral home of Ruth Livingston Mills, she and her husband Ogden Mills entertained the elite of New York Society from the 1880s to the 1920s in the period of American History known as the Gilded Age. The Millses thought of themselves as American aristocrats, modeling their lifestyle on the lifestyles of European nobility.

The program: The estate at Staatsburgh was more than just a mansion – it was an interdependent community of farm workers, servants, house guests and the Mills family. This program has three components: an introduction to life 100 years ago; a tour of the mansion; and an activity that explores the Staatsburgh community.

The introduction uses period photos to engage students in a discussion of what life was like 100 years ago, both for ordinary folk and for the wealthy Millses. As the discussion progresses, students are invited to think about why the Millses lived such an extravagant lifestyle. Students discuss why Mrs. Mills expanded her 25-room house to 79-rooms, what the rooms were used for and by whom. As students learn how the house was used, they are introduced to the component members of the Staatsburgh community.

During the tour, students see both the elegant areas where the Millses entertained their guests and the utilitarian rooms that were servants' bedrooms and work spaces. As they go from room to room, students learn what they would do at Staatsburg if they were a guest and what they would do if they were a servant.

The activity portion starts with map activities. Students see models of estate buildings and a large map of Staatsburgh's 2,000-acre grounds to aid them in understanding where members of the Staatsburgh community lived and worked. Students use the map to see where Staatsburgh is in relation to Albany and New York City. The map illustrates how the Millses used the Hudson River, the railroad and Route 9 to travel back and forth from the country to New York City. The map also shows the location of the farm buildings that supplied food for the estate.

After working with the map, the students do a role-playing activity in which they become Staatsburgh's farmers, servants and owners. One by one, a component group leaves the community, leaving the others to discuss how to cope without a necessary part of their community. They discover that each group in the community depends upon all the others.

Sat 07 May
I Love My Park Day
Saturday, May 7, 2016 10:00 AM - 04:00 PM
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
(845) 889-8851

Come join us at Staatsburgh State Historic Site in celebrating the fifth annual I Love My Park Day!

Project 1: Invasive plant removal - remove mile-a-minute plant

Project 2: Landscaping around historic mansion. Weeding, mulching and beautifying the shrubbery and landscaping directly around the mansion's façade.

Project 3: "Tree House" Garage cleanup

Register Now

Contact event coordinator Pam Malcolm for more information: pam.malcolm@parks.ny.gov

Registration: Required
Sun 08 May
"Tales of the Titanic" Tour
Sunday, May 8, 2016 01:00 PM
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
(845) 889-8851

Mark the 104th anniversary of the sinking by visiting the home of Titanic ticket holders, Ogden and Ruth Mills. Hear tales of the tragedy in a setting remarkably similar to first class on the Titanic. Reservations required. Cost: $10/Adults, $8/Seniors & Students, $5/Friends of Mills Mansion. Call (845) 889-8851 to reserve.

Registration: Required
Sat 14 May
"America's Elite in the Downton Abbey Era" Tour
Saturday, May 14, 2016 01:00 PM
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
(845) 889-8851

Highlighting Staatsburgh's real- life counterparts of the Downton Abbey characters, this tour, led by a costumed interpreter, will explore how the servants prepared for a busy weekend of entertaining...and how the Millses' daughter, like Downton Abbey's Cora, married into the British aristocracy. Reservations required. Cost: $10/Adults, $8/Seniors & Students, $5/Friends of Mills Mansion. Call (845) 889-8851 to reserve.

Registration: Required
Sun 15 May
"Tales of the Titanic" Tour
Sunday, May 15, 2016 01:00 PM
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
(845) 889-8851

Mark the 104th anniversary of the sinking by visiting the home of Titanic ticket holders, Ogden and Ruth Mills. Hear tales of the tragedy in a setting remarkably similar to first class on the Titanic. Reservations required. Cost: $10/Adults, $8/Seniors & Students, $5/Friends of Mills Mansion. Call (845) 889-8851 to reserve.

Registration: Required
Tue 17 May
Gilded Age Tea & Talk: Dining on the Titanic
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 01:00 PM
Staatsburgh State Historic Site
(845) 889-8851

Enjoy tea & refreshments in the formal dining room while listening to a presentation about the Gilded Age era and the Titanic, just in time for the 104th anniversary of the ship's sinking. From 1st class to 3rd class, dining on the doomed liner reached culinary heights never before seen aboard a ship. Each participant will receive a 4 oz. tin of "Staatsburgh Blend" tea created by Harney & Sons. $30/person, $25/Friends of Mills Mansion members. Reservations required; programs fills up fast. Call (845) 889-8851 to reserve.

Registration: Required

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Amenities, Activities & Information

  • Amenities
  • Educational Services (Accessible)
  • Gift Shop (Accessible)
  • Interpretive Signs (Accessible)
  • Scenic Views (Accessible)
    • Activities
    • Biking
    • Group Tours
    • Guided Tours
    • Hiking
    • Historic House
    • Picnic Area (Accessible)
    • X-Country Skiing