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Staatsburg

Staatsburg, (formerly known as Mills Mansion), is an elegant example of the great estates built by America's financial and industrial leaders during the Gilded Age. This period, also known as the American Renaissance, lasted approximately from 1876 to 1917, and was marked by America's rapid economic growth and emergence as a world power.

Ogden Mill's father, Darius Ogden Mills, established the family fortune in California in the decades following the Gold Rush, by investing in the banks, railroads and other businesses associated with the gold and silver mines of California and Nevada. Ogden Mills, like his father, became a noted financier and philanthropist, and a director of many charitable institutions.

 

Ruth Livingston Mills, his wife, was a member of the Livingston family, prominent landowners in the Hudson Valley since the seventeenth century. The 1,600 acre estate at Staatsburg was purchased in 1792 by Mrs. Mills's great-grandfather, Morgan Lewis. Lewis was married to Gertrude Livingston of Clermont. Lewis was quartermaster general of the northern Continental Army during the American Revolution. In 1804, he became the third governor of New York. During the War of 1812, he served as quartermaster general of the United States Army.

In 1895, Mr. and Mrs. Mills commissioned the prestigious New York City architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White to remodel and enlarge their Staatsburg home. At its completion in 1896, the house was transformed into a Beaux Arts mansion of sixty-five rooms and fourteen bathrooms. Its exterior was embellished with balustrades, pilasters, floral swags and a massive portico. The rooms were furnished with elaborately carved and gilded furniture, fine oriental rugs, silk fabrics and a collection of art objects from Europe, ancient Greece and the Far East. The completed mansion retained many architectural features of the earlier Livingston home, and so preserved its memory. Pride in family heritage was also demonstrated in the prominent display of portraits of Mrs. Mills's ancestors. It is this combination of a taste for European grandeur with a reverence for American heritage that makes Staatsburg a quintessential American Renaissance building.

 

The Millses used their Staatsburg residence primarily in the fall, as a setting for numerous house parties, balls and dinners. On the estate grounds and the Hudson River, the family and their guests enjoyed golf, tennis, horseback riding, yachting, ice skating, and ice boating. From midwinter through the summer, the Millses resided and entertained at their other homes in New York City, Paris, Newport, and Millbrae, California.

Ruth Livingston Mills died in 1920. Upon Ogden Mills's death in 1929, the house passed to the couple's son, Ogden Livingston Mills. Active in Republican politics, Ogden L. Mills served as Secretary of the Treasury during the Hoover administration. After his death in 1937, the house reverted to his sister Gladys Mills Phipps. The following year Mrs. Phipps gave the mansion and 192 acres to the State of New York as a memorial to her parents.

Staatsburg is a New York State Historic Site located within the boundaries of Mills-Norris State Park. In 1938, the house and 192 acres were given to the State of New York by Gladys Mills Phipps, daughter of Ruth and Ogden Mills. Tours of the mansion are offered from mid April thru Labor Day on Wednesdays thru Saturdays from 10 to 5, Labor Day thru October on Wednesdays thru Sundays from 12 to 5, with special programs and hours at Christmas.

 

Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park was donated to the state in 1934 by sister of Mrs. Norrie. In 1933 a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was established at the park. CCC projects in the park include construction of the road system, parking lots, the railroad underpass and the Norrie Inn (now the DCC Environmental Museum).

Visiting Staatsburg

Staatsburg is open from the beginning of April through Labor Day on Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10am until 5pm, Sundays noon to 5pm. It is open Labor Day until the last Sunday in October on Wednesdays to Sundays noon until 5pm.

Hours and exact opening dates may vary from season to season. Phone ahead for current hours and information regarding fees.

The mansion is open by Guided Tours only. Last tour starts at 4:30pm daily.

The park and grounds are open daily until dusk.

Restoration In Progress

Visitors to Staatsburg will notice that the restoration of the mansion and its environs to their turn-of-the-century appearance is underway. Ongoing work on the estate wall is directed at restoring the wall's structural integrity and original appearance. A landscape report funded by the Friends of Mills Mansion will provide guidance for future work on other areas of the estate grounds.

Restoration of the exterior of the mansion will require the removal of the gray gunite finish and the replacement of the deteriorated cornice and many precast decorative elements. When completed, the mansion's exterior will be faced with white stucco, as it was originally.

Ongoing interior restoration work will include the repainting of walls, the cleaning of marble and wooden surfaces, the conservation of the mansion's collections, and the reproduction of the site's extraordinary turn-of-the-century furnishing fabrics. Recognizing the importance of these fabrics to the overall interpretation of the site, the Friends have taken a leadership role in identifying and securing the funds necessary for the reproduction and have established a special Textile Reproduction Fund.

Restoration efforts at Staatsburg are expected to continue for many years. Site staff is knowledgeable about ongoing work and will be happy to answer visitor's questions. Financial support for restoration work is provided by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Friends of Mills Mansion. Donations to support restoration work may be sent to the Friends of Mills Mansion.

Friends of Mills Mansion

The Friends of Mills Mansion was organized in 1988 to support the educational and preservation goals of Mills Mansion. Funds raised by the Friends have been used to purchase reproduction fabrics and trims, acquire objects for the Butler's Pantry, produce school curriculum materials, purchase research materials and support the work of landscape and curatorial consultants.

Membership in the Friends of Mills Mansion is open to all interested in the preservation of the site. Information regarding membership may be obtained by writing:

Friends of Mills Mansion
PO Box 416
Staatsburg, NY 12580

Specifics on visiting Staatsburg were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
 
 
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