Russell Wright's Manitoga
In the 1930's, 40's and 50's, the
signature on a set of dinnerware or piece of furniture
elicited instant response. At that time, Wright was one
of the best known designers in the U.S. At the apex of
his career, Wright left New York City and moved his base
of operations to Garrison. It was here that he created
a unique home and designed landscape. He named it Manitoga,
meaning Place of the Great Spirit in Algonquin. Wright
shared the Native Americans' respect for the earth.
When Wright first found this property
in 1942, it had been damaged by a century of quarrying
and lumbering. Over the next three decades, until his
death in 1976, he carefully redesigned and re-sculpted
Manitoga's 75 acres using native plants, his training
as a theater designer and sculptor, and his innovative
design ideas. Though the landscape appears natural,
it is actually a careful design of native trees, rocks,
ferns, mosses, and wild flowers.
Wright created over four miles of
paths that wind over creeks, into woods, among boulders,
and through ferns and mountain laurel.
Manitoga is the only 20th century
modern homesite open to the public in New York, and
one of few on the east coast. Wright considered it his
most important creative effort. In 1996 it was listed
on the National Register of Historic Places.
Manitoga's mission is to preserve
the legacy of pioneer designer Russel Wright-his home,
landscape, products, archives and philosophy, and share
them with professionals and the public.
Manitoga is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
Hike over 4 miles of paths through
a 75-acre designed landscape with links to the Appalachian
Trail. Self Guided Hikes. Daily, during daylight hours.
Admission; members free. Admission: Suggested paths
maintenance contribution of $5.00 per adult/$3.00 per
child. Honor system: please place money in slot located
at the maps/brochure kiosk by the small gift shop building.
Enjoy a picnic while hiking; carry in-carry out, please
keep the paths clean. Pets welcome if kept on a leash;
please pick up and keep the paths clean.
All paths begin at a subtle opening
at the edge of Mary's Meadow, named after Wright's wife,
who was also a designer. Wright designed his paths as
a journey into the secrets of the forest. The trees
provide an enclosed blanket of green and we are led
by his unseen hand through its mysteries to make our
own discoveries. The initial ascent and carefully laid
stone steps are the first illustration of the work involved
in creating this designed landscape. In building a path,
Wright would study the landscape and find the land's
natural contour to determine the direction of the paths.
In keeping with Wright's original
plan, all of the paths were designed to go in one direction
as indicated by the map and the path markers. In addition
to the description below, your journey wiII be facilitated
by following the color-coded markers for each path.
Visitors can view Dragon Rock from
the View spot at the base of the Quarry Pond. The path
leading around the pond is open only by appointment.
April - October, Daily tours, Monday - Friday at 11
am, Saturday and Sunday, tours at 11 am and 1:30 pm
Tours are limited to 14 people. Reservations
are accepted for all tours during weekend office hours,
9-5 Monday - Friday. Visitors meet at the small gift
shop next to the parking lot located off Route 9D in
Garrison, NY. The guide will arrive just before the
Tour experience: Tours begin with
a 15 minute documentary about Russel Wright¹s life.
Afterward, visitors follow the inner quarry pond trail
around to his home and studio. The landscape features
views of Dragon Rock, a field of mountain laurel, a
moss room, a stone staircase up the hill, and a wood
plank bridge over the waterfall. Tours last approximately
90 minutes and are conducted rain or shine. Please wear
comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately. Visitors
need to be able to negotiate uneven ground.
Adults $15, Seniors $13 (62 or older), Children $5 (13
& under), Members Benefits include free house tour,
Group Tours $150 minimum fee