What to do on a sunny day with chance of showers in Cooperstown, New York? I had a number of options - Fenimore Art Museum, Farmer's Museum, Architecture Walking Tour. Instead, I chose to wander down Main Street and discovered the fantastic book store, Willis Monie Books. I spent about an hour there and came away staggering under a load of books. While there, I decided that the 1:00 tour at Hyde Hall should be the next thing on my agenda. Hyde Hall was the home of George Clark (1768-1835) a wealthy English landowner, who married the widow of James Fenimore Cooper's oldest brother. George Clark bought some land on Lake Otsego in 1817 which was located beside his new wife's property. He commissioned a grand house with wings that faced a central courtyard. The construction of the mansion lasted from 1817-1834 and was considered the largest private home of that time. Since this seems to be the summer of grand homes, I was curious to visit this National Landmark.
First of all, I must mention that our guide Linda, was excellent. She had only been a docent for two weeks, but she was very knowledgable about everything to do with Hyde Hall and then some. I learned a few things, which was great!
Hyde Hall, Cooperstown, New York.
I asked if there were any plans for landscaping. Linda explained that for safety reasons, shrubbery and trees were not ever planted. She also told us that the crunchy stones on the driveway announced guests or intruders.
The front entry.
Hyde Hall has had massive amounts of water damage over the years. And so, when one enters the front hall, the very strong odor of mildew is present. I was surprised at this, but, as the tour continued, I began to understand why. Notice, there is no grand sweeping stairway visible.
Many of the furnishings of the mansion are original to the house. They had been sold at auction and stalwart volunteers are hunting them down and purchasing them back.
View from the parlor, across the front entry to the dining room.
Dining room, to the right of the entry.
Original furnishings in a smaller room off of the parlor.
The room as it is interpreted today.
Beneath this window is a small door.The sash would slide up and farmers entered to pay their rent to Mr. Clark. Below this window is a trap door, which leads to the basement where Mr. Clark kept his safe.
View from a side wing of the house to Otsego Lake.
Original plaster mold.
Work is contiually in progress here. This plaster mold is used for ceiling decoration.
The hidden stairway behind the wall of the front entry. It is quite beautiful and a shame it is not in full view. Maybe to prevent heat from rising to the third level as an economical measure.
This piece of furniture is original to the house and held the leaves to the dining room table.
Tickets for the Hyde Hall tour are $12. I would not bring children to this tour. There was a boy about 8 years old and he was quite bored. He sat on the furnishings and the docent very kindly reminded him not to sit on these original pieces. However, I was delighted by the tour and could have asked questions for hours. Very informative and very helpful. Interesting furniture and lighting. Many of the rooms are incomplete. It is a fascinating work in progress.