Cedar Grove, Home of Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole, one of the founding
members of America's first school of art,
the Hudson River School, arrived at the Catskill Mountain
wilderness in 1825 and painted the breathtakingly beautiful
landscapes he saw there. Many of these views remain remarkably
unchanged, and can be found within 15 miles of Cedar Grove.
He returned in subsequent years, eventually boarding at
Cedar Grove, a farm owned by the local merchant, John
A. Thomson. Initially, Cole was at Cedar Grove in the
summer, but in 1836 he found a permanent home at the property
when he married one of Mr. Thomson's nieces, Maria Bartow.
From the first, Cedar Grove and the Catskill Mountain
region nurtured Thomas Cole's artistry. In his “Essay
on American Scenery” (1835), Cole said the local
landscape had “varied, undulating, and exceedingly
beautiful outlines – [the Catskills] heave from
the valley of the Hudson like the subsiding billows of
the ocean after a storm.” In this setting, in his
“painting room” at Cedar Grove, Thomas Cole
created many of the Hudson River School masterpieces that
assured his fame.
Thomas Cole was born in 1801 at Bolton,
Lancashire in Northwestern England and emigrated with
his family to the United States in 1818. During the
early years Cole lived for short periods in Philadelphia,
Ohio, and Pittsburgh where he worked as an itinerant
portrait artist. Although primarily self-taught, Cole
worked with members of the Philadelphia Academy, and
his canvases were included in the Academy's exhibitions.
Cole discovered the haunting beauty
of the Catskill wilderness. His exhibition of small
paintings of landscapes came to the attention of prominent
figures on the New York City art scene including Asher
B. Durand, who became a life-long friend, and his fame
spread. While he was still in his twenties, Cole was
made a fellow of the National Academy.
You are invited to come and visit
Cole's home and studio in Catskill. A visit to Cedar
Grove provides entry to the world of the man who became
the father of American landscape painting and founder
of the Hudson River School of art. Visitors are invited
to gather in the Visitor Center where they may purchase
tickets and reserve a place for the guided tour of the
Main House and the Old Studio. Admission to the grounds
is free of charge, including the historic perennial
gardens, the 200-year-old Honey Locust tree, and the
west porch where one of the most perfect views of the
Catskill Mountain range can be enjoyed. A mountain-view
guide is situated on the western part of the porch to
enable you to identify the major peaks in the mountain
landscape. The guided tour leaves from the Visitor Center
with groups of about 12 visitors at a time, and enters
the 1815 Federal yellow-brick Main House which contains
the historic rooms where the Cole family lived, including
the West Parlor where Thomas Cole was married, and the
West Bedroom where his children were born and where
Cole breathed his last breath in 1848. The Main House
also includes gallery rooms, where exhibitions of art
from the Hudson River School and beyond are on display.
The tour continues into the "Old Studio" where
Cole painted many of his best known works, and where
Cole's original easel and art-making materials are on
view. At the conclusion of the tour, visitors may wish
to browse the museum shop where a variety of items related
to Thomas Cole and landscape painting are available
for purchase, and to read the educational panels and
displays before they depart.
Hours: The Main House and Studio are open by guided tour. From
the first Saturday in May through the last Sunday in
October, tours are offered Friday, Saturday & Sunday
10 am-4 pm. In addition, the house is open Memorial
Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Independence Day, 1-4
pm. Tours are offered at other times by appointment.
Tours of the Main House begin approximately every hour
on a first-come-first-served basis. Tours last about
40 minutes, and each tour is limited to approximately
12 people. Group tours are welcome 7 days a week by
advance appointment by calling 518-943-7465 or email
Admission: Admission to the Main House and Old Studio is by guided
tour. Tickets are $6 per person during regular open
hours. Please purchase tickets in the Visitor Center.
Admission to the grounds is free of charge.