Visits to the estate begin at historic Philipsburg Manor, on Rt. 9 in Sleepy Hollow.
Operated and maintained by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
From the NY Thruway, take Exit 9 and go two miles north on Route 9; via I-95, the Hutchinson River of the Merrit Parkways, take I-287 West to 87 North, to Exit 9 (last exit before bridge) and go two miles north on Route 9. The Visitor Center is also accessible via Metro North Railroad (Tarrytown Station) from Grand Central Station.
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) had 4 daughters and 1 son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960). The son in turn had 1 daughter, Abby ("Babs"), and five sons: John D. III (1906-78), Nelson Aldrich (1908-79), Laurance Spelman (1910-?), Winthrop (1912-73) and David (1915-?).
David Rockefeller, one of the five grandsons, wrote his memoirs. Rockefeller, David. 2002. David Rockefeller: Memoirs. New York: Random House. The information below is taken from that book.
early 1890s -- John D. Rockefeller started buying property in Pocantico close to his brother William's estate on the Hudson River. . . . Eventually the family accumulated about 3,400 acres that surrounded and included almost all of the little village of Pocantico Hills, where most of the residents worked for the family and lived in houses owned by Grandfather. p. 28
There was a small railway station just outside the Kykuit entrance gate that served a spur of the New York Central, the Putnam Division. p. 29
1901 -- the wooden house of the Rockefellers burned down. The family moved down the hill to the smaller Kent House.
1912 -- with lots of prodding from his son, the billionaire built Kykuit ("lookout" in Dutch), designed by architects Delano and Aldrich, interiors by Ogden Codman, and grounds by landscape architect William Welles Bosworth.
David Rockefeller and his wife lived in Abeyton Lodge in "the Park," down the hill from Kykuit. 28
John D. Rockefeller Jr. initiated among others the Palisades Interstate Park, the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park and Riverside Church. 50
"As a boy I would occasionally walk up the hill to Kykuit from my parents' home, Abeyton Lodge, a distance of about a quarter mile, for breakfast or lunch with Grandfather." 8
"I also visited Grandfather at his homes in Florida and Lakewood, New Jersey. Grandfather loved golf and built private courses at Pocantico and Lakewood" 8
"On weekends we took the children to Pocantico Hills, first to the Stevens House inside the wall of the estate, but within a short time to Abeyton Lodge." 138
1937 -- death of John D. Rockefeller.
Kykuit was divided into three parts. The Kykuit mansion and immediate 250 acre area, which they called "the Park"; a 2,000 acre "open space"; and the individually owned properties: John Rockefeller's Fieldwood Farm; Nelson Rockefeller's Hunting Lodge; David Rockefeller's Hudson Pines; and Laurance Rockefeller's five distinct parcels, including Rockwood Hall on the Hudson River (now part of the Rockefeller Preserve).
1938 -- sister Babs had a redbrick Georgian House designed by Mott Schmitt for her just outside the Pocantico Estate. Later she sold this house to her brother David Rockefeller. His family named the place Hudson Pines. It had 40 acres of land, a caretaker's house, a stable, flower and vegetable gardens and some barns. 138
1946 -- around this time the 5 Rockefeller brothers start their many yearly meetings to talk over common projects and interests.
1951 -- John D. Rockefeller Jr forms the Hills Realty Company and folds the entire Kykuit estate into it.
1952 -- John D. Rockefeller Jr. sells all the Hills Realty Company stock for Kykuit to his 5 sons.
1960 -- John D. Rockefeller Jr. dies.
Nelson Rockefeller uses Kykuit to entertain during his governorship.
1976 -- Nelson Rockefeller pushes for and gets National Historical Landmark designation for Kykuit (bestowed by President Gerald Ford).
House and Garden Tours
There is a house and garden tour. And there is a separate Garden and Sculpture Tour (offered weekdays except Tuesday at 3 p.m. and weekends at 3:15 p.m.). Kykuit has formal gardens, including the Morning and Brook gardens, the Italian garden, the Adam and Eve Fountain area, and several terraced areas. In the gardens is Governor Nelson Rockefeller's collection of 20th-century sculpture featuring works by Henry Moore, Gaston Lachaise, Aristide Maillol, Alexander Calder, and others.
Kudzu Kate Peyser told us that there is kudzu along one of the gates.