The 2017 Country House Conference took place Saturday Nov. 4th with resounding success.  It was with great pleasure that the Country House Conference was welcomed by the hospitable staff of Staatsburgh State Historic Site.  Our host site, Staatsburgh State Historic Site (a.k.a. Mills Mansion) is one of the great treasures of the Hudson Valley.   The 65 room Beaux-Arts main house is a 1895 remodel of an older 1832 Greek Revival house by noted architect Stanford White.  The estate began in 1792 as the country residence of Gov. Morgan Lewis and his wife Gertrude Livingston.  The estate was redeveloped in the 1890s under the direction of Lewis's great-granddaughter Ruth Livingston Mills and her husband Ogden Mills.  In 1938, Staatsburgh was donated to the people of New York by Ruth Livingston Mills' daughter, Gladys Mills Phipps as a memorial to her parents.


The conference comprised of four lectures, a discussion panel, luncheon and house tour.  Commencing at 9 A.M. and finishing at 5 P.M., the conference was a sold out event! This was the first visit to Staatsburgh for a number of those in attendance.  We must give particularly thanks to Pam Malcolm (Historic Site Director), Don Fraser (Historic Site Educator) Maria Reynolds (Historic Site Assistant), Marilyn Holst (Historic Site Interpreter) as well as all the entire staff and volunteers who made the day possible.  We encourage all who are interested in contributing to the continued preservation of Staatsburgh to visit  





It is also with great thanks to the speakers who are as follows:

Obercreek Farm with Alison Spear AIA

Alison  Spear brought to life the modern travails of restoring a much beloved family home.  Ms. Spear graced the audience with the story of restoring Obercreek, the family home of her husband Alex Reese since the mid-nineteenth century.  Ms. Spear's own expertise gave guests insight into the delicate balance of preserving both ones history as well as the tangible built environment, while still creating a place one can truly call home.  Ms. Spear, is an award winning architect and interior designer and currently principal of  her own practice.


Foxhollow Farm with David Byars

David Byars presented a nostalgic vision of one early twentieth century family's idyllic life at there vision of a country house.  Utilizing a vast photo album collection and letters preserved by Deborah Dows, Mr. Byars explored the early years of Fox Hollow Farm, a grand Hudson River estate created for Tracy Dows and his wife Alice Olin.  Mr. Byars is currently the Deputy Managing Editor at Vogue and  is the author of  "Our Time at Foxhollow Farm: A Hudson Valley Family Remembered".

Gilded Age Country Estates with Gary Lawrance

Gary Lawrance presented an overview of Gilded Age period country estates, focusing on those which had been constructed in New York.  A peak of country house living, Gilded Age mansions provide most Americans with "quintessential" country house glamour and opulence.  Mr. Lawrance delved into his vast collection of historic photos and plans to recreate a lost world of robber-barons, banker and pseudo-aristocrats who developed an entirely new understanding of wealth and gracious living.  Mr. Lawrance is a noted architect,  historian and principal of Lawrance Architectural Presentations.

Hyde Hall with Randy Lamb 

Hyde Hall is a stunning neoclassical estate located at Glimmerglass State Park near Cooperstown, NY.  The main house was designed by early NY architect Philip Hooker for British émigré George Clarke.  Constructed between 1817 and 1834, Hyde Hall was one of the largest private residences built in the United States before the Civil War.  A comprehensive history of the colorful Clarke family, the hall and preservation of the property was provided by Randy Lamb.  Mr. Lamb is a museum educator and public education programmer for the central New York Region and current site manager of Hyde Hall near Cooperstown, NY.

Discussion Panel

An open discussion was led by organizer TR Hamilton with guest panelists, Susan De Vries, Jeremiah Rusconi and Kathryn Whitman.  Susan De Vries is a New York based preservationist and designer with a focus on early 19th century social and architectural history.  Jeremiah Rusconi is a Hudson, NY based preservationist and design consultant whose portfolio includes work on the Jacob Rutsen van Rensselaer House and the William H. Ludlow House.  Kathryn Whitman is a Staatsburg, NY based architect, previously with the firm of Platt Byard Dovell White and whose projects have included the restoration of Astor Courts. Ms. Whitman also serves on the board of the Friends of Mills Mansion.


  Photos By: TR Revella-Hamilton