Worth a Visit: Olanna

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yesterday's New York Times included an article about preserving the "viewsheds" in the Hudson River Valley, and mentioned in particular Olanna, the home of Frederic Church, a celebrated Hudson River School painter. I had the good fortune to visit Olanna two years ago, and I would encourage anyone visiting Hudson, NY or the neighborign towns to make the journey, as well. In addition to the tremendous views mentioned in the article, the hosue itself is stunning.

You are not allowed to take photos of the interior (though here are a few of the exterior), but it remains much as it had in Frederic Church's day. The interiors are inspired by Chruch's travels, particularly in the Middle East. During our visit the docent told us that Church's unusual Persian-style home influenced Mark Twain in the design of his Hartford, CT home (also worth a visit, if you are ever in the area!). One thing that left an impression on me was the room where Church painted. A handsome  room with high ceilings and a view out into the valley, I was shocked to see that he had painted over an antique Persian rug! The rug is covered with paint spots and splatters from his work. Who needs a drop cloth?

I was curious to read that Olanna has recently undergone some improvements, and I will plan to make another visit this summer to see this inspiring home again.



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