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On my return trip from upstate New York, I finally got the chance to visit the Olana State Historic Site. Perched high into the hill side, beyond my entry from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, was Olana - named after a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia (modern-day Armenia)

The day was clear, crisp, and the Autumn foliage at its prime.

I was on my way to see the home of Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting. This 250 acre estate overlooks views of the Hudson River, the Catskill, Taconic and Berkshire Mountain ranges, as well as New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

Olana is one of the few intact artists' home, studio and estate complexes in the United States; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Its now owned and operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation with support from the Olana Partnership.

En route to Olana, taken from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Olana Historic Site

Looking at the house with my back to the south

Beyond this estate, Churchs legacy includes having painted an abundance of extraordinary detailed oil landscapes, which afforded him the opportunity to build the type of wealth it took to create this estate and maintain all its acerage- each of his commissioned works sold for approx. $10,000 in the 1800's.

Frederic Church, The Icebergs

This painting, "The Icebergs", 1861 is located in the cloak room

Olana Historic Site

North side of the estate

Frederic and his wife Isabel abandoned preliminary plans from Richard Morris Hunt delineating a manor house in the French style. (Hunt was an American architect of the nineteenth century and a preeminent figure in the history of American architecture. Check him out, he was a major figure)

Olana Hudson River View

Looking west from the porch which was added to the home with his studio

Olana Historic Site

Taken from the porch

Instead, Church worked closely with architect Calvert Vaux (a British-American architect and landscape designer. He is best known as the co-designer, along with his protégé and junior partner Frederick Law Olmsted, of what would become New York's Central Park) to realize a more personal vision.

Okkk, someone has brilliantly talented friends!

Olana architecture

Patterning as seen from the front door, east side of the house

The stone, brick, and polychrome stenciled villa at Olana is an unusual mixture of Victorian structural elements and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs from different times and places. Moorish elements mix with contrasting Italianate themes. Frederic and Isabel Church were impressed by the architecture they had seen on their travels in Beirut, Jerusalem and Damascus in 1868.

Olana architecture

Organically cut brick- work. Church's inspiration is derived from Persian architecture

The furnishings Frederic and Isabel acquired over the course of their lives remain in the house. Hung are paintings by Frederic Church as well as artwork by his mentor Thomas Cole (an American artist known for his landscape and history paintings. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century.)

Olana Bedroom

This wallpaper is inspired by French textiles, and the bedding is original. All the home's content showcases patterning

The eclectic assortment of furniture and decorative arts includes carpets, metalwork, ceramics and costumes from the Middle East, folk art and fine art from Mexico, and high-style American and Oriental furniture. The main residence at Olana has been described as a prime example of the Aesthetic Movement in America.

If you're coming from Long Island the ride is about two hours and forty-five minutes...

Olana remains Church's greatest masterpiece.


narrative of the medium

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