by Shannon Butler
If you missed this week’s Local history presentation, Hyde Park in the Gilded Age, have no fear. We thought we would share with you some history on some of the interesting mansions that were discussed. We will first take a look at a grand house that happens to still be standing. Archibald Rogers was a man who lived his life in a mix of grand comfort and rough backwoods adventure. Somehow he managed to combine it all at his grand estate in Hyde Park, Crumwold.
Archibald Rogers had spent his early years growing up in Hyde Park, his grandmother took care of him for the most part and they lived in a house on Main Street that still stands today. After Archibald had studied at Yale he married Anne Coleman and it was her family’s money from the iron industry that helped the Rogers family build one of the grandest houses along the Hudson. First, Rogers needed to purchase enough land to pull off his vision. He no doubt had been planning such a property since his childhood, when he once roamed the grounds of Elias Butler’s estate, D.S. Miller’s land, and others, located just south of the village. Beginning in 1883, Rogers bought up property after property and tore down the houses that originally stood there. In total, he acquired over 900 acres of land (what now makes up a good chunk of Hyde Park).
He hired one of the most talented architects of the day, Richard Morris Hunt, to design for him a lavish house in the Chateauesque style. Together, Hunt and Rogers inspected practically every stone and piece of timber for the house. Rogers referred to it as “Just a big house. It was built with a view for a bit of elbow room” (it has a bit more than just elbow room). The house is built along the edge of a bluff that pitches down suddenly towards the Hudson (as is the case with most of these grand houses along the east side of the river). The contractor for the project was Charles I. Round, the same that built the Adriance Library and the original Vassar Hospital. It took several years and over $300,000 to complete the project, the Poughkeepsie Journal announced that the family would move into the house on May 1st 1889. The finished home had 74 rooms (this of course includes servants rooms and smaller work spaces), and 8 baths. A fine library was filled with books, the walls of the main hall were covered with animal heads from Archibald’s various hunting trips. Fine art covered the walls of the den and dining room.
Of course Archibald and Anne filled the house with the laughter of their seven children. They held lavish parties, boat races, and fox hunts. They also gave generously to the area including the gift of Hyde Park’s lovely old Town Hall that was worth about $25,000. Archibald Rogers died in 1928 from injuries that he sustained a year before, when he crashed his car near Butler’s bridge (the southern end of his estate) while trying to prevent his beloved dog from jumping out of the car after a squirrel. Anne died in 1934 and the estate closed up as the children had all moved on. By 1936, rumors were flying around that former King of England, Edward VIII might move into the house (he abdicated the throne to be with his love, a divorced American, Mrs. Wallace Simpson.) but that never happened. Instead, the Military Police who protected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved in.
It was FDR himself who said in 1941, “I hope that the Rogers place can eventually become an experimental demonstration place for suburban housing, gardening, etc.” After the war, a man by the name of Daniel Trotsky purchased the mansion for $75,000. He turned it into the Roosevelt School for Jewish Boys. The project didn’t last much more than a couple of years and by 1952, the Eymard seminary took over the main mansion. In 1948, Trotsky sold the 900 acres and about 13 outbuildings to John Watson Golden and his partners who then began building most of the houses that make up the village around the old mansion. The mansion itself switched hands a few times and now is the home of what’s known as the Millennial Kingdom Family Church, it is not open to the public.
Hyde Park in The Gilded Age by Carney Rhinevault and Shannon Butler
Colonel Archibald Rogers and the Crumwold Estate by Carney Rhinevault
Library of Congress
Hyde Park Historian Blog