Great Country Houses of the Hudson River Valley

The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in conjunction with Classical Excursions invites you to join an exclusive tour of the Great Country Houses of the Hudson River Valley. The tour will cover three centuries of some of the region’s finest architecture. Both sides of the river have a rich legacy of styles, given the valley’s proximity to New York City, it had been the recipient of wealth spent on the construction of great architecture.

From early modest Dutch dwellings, elegant Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival houses of the Colonial and New Republic periods, to Romantic Gothic Revival and Italianate houses of the Downing and Davis eras, Beaux Arts estates owned by those who retained the likes of McKim, Mead and White, and finally, some of the finest new classical architectural projects in America – they are all to be seen on this tour with experts, specialists, and homeowners leading the way.

To ensure the safety of our community, the ICAA is requiring that all participants of its travel programs receive the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot (aside from those eligible for a medical or religious accommodation).

This tour is arranged by Classical Excursions. Please note that a registration form and deposit must be submitted to Classical Excursions and a confirmation of receipt must be received from Classical Excursions in order to be considered registered for this program. Payment of the $500 donation to the ICAA prior to registration does not guarantee placement on the trip. To inquire about registration for this program, please contact Lani Summerville at [email protected] or 413-446-8728.

A fully tax-deductible donation of $500 per person is required to participate in this travel program. Please note that this donation is non-refundable except in the case that this travel program is cancelled by the organization. All travel program participants have the opportunity to receive a complimentary Individual level membership for one year to the ICAA.


Edgewater (c.1825), Barrytown, was owned by the late Richard H. Jenrette, financier and collector of some of the East Coast’s finest historic houses. He filled the Federal-and-Italianate-style house, which he purchased from the writer Gore Vidal in 1969, with museum quality and gorgeous period antiques. The home features beautiful views of the river from the Roman Doric two-story portico. There is also a stunning classical temple-style guesthouse built by Mr. Jenrette to be seen on the property.

Staats Hall

Pieter Estersohn, internationally renowned photographer of architecture and interiors and author of Life Along the Hudson, is the owner of Staats Hall, Red Hook, a Greek Revival country house dating from 1839 and surrounded by 136 acres. He chose this home after viewing more than a hundred residences. Several years of refurbishment reveals his insistence on incorporating elegant neoclassical furnishings, 19th century fixtures, and Doric architectural details that are synonymous with the age of the house. The house reveals its owner’s true understanding of classical harmony and balance.

James Ivory's Federal-Style home in c

James Ivory will welcome us at his Federal-style home in Columbia County, featured as the setting for ICAA’s documentary Design in Mind: On Location with James Ivory shown on PBS. The Academy Award-winning film director/producer of Merchant Ivory Productions will take the group on a tour of the 1805 house that he purchased in 1975 and which he has painstakingly restored ever since. “Merchant Ivory Productions,” says ICAA president Peter Lyden, “always displayed an informed engagement with traditional architecture, demonstrating a deep and historical approach to location shooting.”

Vanderbilt Mansion

Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, is an imposing 50-room Beaux Arts country place owned by Frederick William and Louise Vanderbilt and designed by McKim, Mead, and White in 1895. Corinthian columns support porticos on all four sides of the massive three-story mansion. A unified style of the original interior furnishings and applied decoration reflects a new classical taste carried out at that time by Ogden Codman, Jr. and George Glaenzer.


Staatsburgh is a mansion designed by Stanford White (1896) originally owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ogden Mills. Mills represented new California Gold Rush money and she, as Ruth Livingston, belonged to an old and distinguished Hudson River Valley family. The mansion, which resembles the White House, only larger, envelopes an earlier Livingston 1832 Greek Revival house. The still intact Mills interiors were designed and decorated by the Paris firm of Allard et fils. Edith Wharton used the mansion as the inspiration for the fictitious Bellomont country house in The House of Mirth.

Clove Brook Farm

Gifted ceramicist, designer of handmade lamps, plates and accessories, Christopher Spitzmiller spends time at Clove Brook Farm in rural Dutchess County when he isn’t creating in his New York City studio. Now a beautifully renovated farmhouse with glorious gardens of his own design, it was once a dilapidated Greek Revival house dating from the 1830s with an even older kitchen wing. The house is designed with a personal mix of old and new, personal collections and a special nod to mentor Albert Hadley, using many of his wallpapers and designs.


The tour includes a private visit of Olana (1860), which is outside Hudson and has been described as the little “center of the world” by its owner, artist Frederic Edwin Church, a key figure of the Hudson River School of painters. The grandiose Moorish villa sits majestically on a hill overlooking the river and Catskill Mountains and was the site from which the artist painted many of his breathtaking Hudson River landscapes. The house was inspired by architecture that Church saw in the Near East and reflects his highly original artistic sense.

Plumb Bronson House

The Plumb Bronson House, outside Hudson, is a recently designated national landmark under restoration by Historic Hudson, Inc. Built in 1812 in the Federal style, the premier architect Alexander Jackson Davis was hired in 1838 to extend the eaves and add decorative Italianate brackets and a veranda. These alterations are among the earliest examples of the style termed “Hudson River Bracketed,” later widely imitated. Further alterations in 1849 enhanced the romantic scheme.


The tour includes a special visit to Wethersfield, the house and gardens of the investor and philanthropist Chauncey Stillman, set on 10 acres of formal and outer gardens around the brick Georgian-style house.

What’s included

  • A stay at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa
  • A private tour of Staats Hall, the Greek Revival country home of internationally renowned photographer Pieter Estersohn.
  • Exclusive visit to Edgewater, Barrytown, which was owned by the late Richard Jenrette, collector of some of the East Coast's finest historic homes.
  • An exclusive tour of famed director James Ivory's Federal-style home in Columbia County.
  • A visit to Clove Brook Farm in Dutchess County, owned by gifted ceramicist Christopher Spitzmiller.
  • A stop at Vanderbilt Mansion, Hyde Park, originally designed by McKim, Mead, and White in 1895.
  • A tour of Staatsburgh mansion, originally designed by Stanford White, which was the inspiration for Edith Wharton's House of Mirth.
  • A private tour of Olana outside Hudson, a grandiose Moorish villa which overlooks the river and the Catskill Mountains.
  • A stop at the Plumb Bronson House, outside Hudson, a recently designated national landmark currently under restoration.
  • A visit to Wethersfield, the house and gardens of the investor and philanthropist Chauncey Stillman.

Vanderbilt Mansion (Wikimedia Commons)

Olana (Wikimedia Commons)

Staatsburgh (Wikimedia)


How do I register for an ICAA travel program?

If you would like to register, you may contact the travel operator organizing the program. Please note that a $500 donation per person to the ICAA is required in order to participate in each travel program.

What does the required $500 donation fund?

Your $500 donation helps to further the ICAA’s goal of advancing the practice and appreciation of the classical tradition in architecture and the allied arts by supporting its varied educational programs, including continuing education courses, college workshops, the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture, New Heights, and many more.

Am I required to pay a $500 donation for each travel program I register for?

Yes, a donation of $500 to the ICAA is required for each travel program you register for. The donation is required for each person attending a tour.

How do I make my $500 donation to the ICAA?

You can make your $500 donation to the ICAA online, or you can download, complete, and mail this form to the ICAA. You can alternatively fax a copy to 212-730-9649. You may also call 212-730-9646 x109 or email [email protected] to make a donation. Donations must be made separately from the registration fee.

Do I have to be a member of the ICAA to participate in an ICAA travel program?

No, membership is not required to attend an ICAA travel program. However, complimentary Individual membership to the ICAA is included with your $500 required donation.

I don’t see the full itinerary for the tour I am interested in. When will it be released?

For full itinerary and more information, contact [email protected], 860-926-4895. Due to the exclusive nature of our tours, some private locations or visits may be omitted from the ICAA's website.

What kinds of trips does the ICAA offer?

Over the past several years, the ICAA has travelled to destinations including Paris; Andalusia; Atlanta; Barbados; South Africa; Chicago; the Netherlands and Belgium; Scotland; the French Riviera; Morocco; the Italian Lake Region; Charlottesville; Naples; and New Delhi, among many other locations. The ICAA is always looking to diversify its travel offerings. If you have a suggestion or location you would like to see added, please email [email protected].