Monday, February 18, 2013

"Sunnyside," Washington Irving's Home; Terrytown, NY

 Back in October, I made one last stop before leaving Sleepy Hollow. While the running around and taking the last few photos I wanted to was the last thing I officially did in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, before heading back home and across the state, I stopped at Washington Irving's home, "Sunnyside" in Terrytown.

 I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't seen a photo of the house or grounds before heading there. I only knew it lay further down the Hudson than anywhere else I'd been in Terrytown during the weekend. You park-- or at least on the Columbus Day weekend-- in a parking lot of what I believe were corporate offices of Kraft Foods, and take a shuttle bus a few miles down the road, and turn onto a narrower, winding road surrounded by trees and near woods, and a few very large houses. Very large houses.

 You come at the end to a parking lot next to what I can only describe as an antique looking-garden, and a small house. There is a declining hill and several buildings, and the sizable house that is Sunnyside at the base of the slope, right on the Hudson. For twenty dollars you can make it onto the grounds, and take a tour of the house.

 In Sleepy Hollow the day before, another tourist had mentioned that Sunnyside seemed to be more geared toward children-- but I still wanted to go, see what it was like, and walk the grounds that were home to the talent who wrote the legend of the Horseman.

 Sunnyside does have a lot to offer children and families. The sprawling grounds offer room for all sorts of activities, and the crew that manages Sunnyside takes full advantage that fact. There is story-telling (which I sadly missed), crafts, a playground, even outdoor cutouts you can stick your face through and have your photo taken as Ichabod, the Horseman or Rip Van Winkle. Which I may or may not have partaken in. There was scarecrow making for the children-- something that I would loved to have done, regradless of my age. But this activity was apparently only for the little ones. Sadly.

 Washington Irving's house is neither extremely large or small. The grounds, even with children running around shouting in the distance, are cool and calming, and as you walk to the front door alongside the Hudson River, you know this is an ideal place for a writer to be. Work, live. You understand. I took several photos outside the house, but none inside; they were not allowed. The tour is quick, taking you in small groups to Irving's library and workspace, dining room, hallways and kitchen. In each room is a person dressed as a member of the household staff, and they speak of how Sunnyside was a fully functioning home and estate, with the Irving family, a staff or servants and raised livestock.

 After the tour you leave the kitchen you come out into the courtyard-- where there is a rather ominous looking small structure: Irving's ice house. Designed by the writer himself to look like a "Gothic chapel" the ice house was a necessary function the household depended on to store ice in for the home, for refrigeration purposes. Without knowing the function of the ice house, the place is quite odd looking-- a small and unusual elegant shack of sorts, with large saws on the wall.

 After walking around Sunnyside for a while, I came to the refreshment stand next to the gift shop. Where I may have had pie and hot apple cider, the last official event of my Sleepy Hollow weekend.

 I hope to go back to Sleepy Hollow, someday. What I wasn't able to do as tickets were sold out the entire time I was there and well before, was see The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze, an attraction the woman at the Sunnyside refreshment stands attested to the worthiness of. "Blaze" takes place at the Van Courtlant Manor, and consists of more than 5,000 individually carved jack o'lanterns put together in a variety of displays. I would like to see that. And I would like to go back to the cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, and explore. More, take photos. Of course. Yes, I think I will go back there someday.

You can see my complete Photo Album for my "Sunnyside" visit here:
Sunnyside, Washington Irving's Home; Tarrytown, NY

And you can read all the posts from my Sleepy Hollow Weekend 2012 here. 

 One last note to leave the writing of Sleepy Hollow on, for now. Here is a photo of myself I couldn't resist taking the first night, the first time I saw the Horseman's bridge, the Old Dutch Church and the cemetery.

All Photos Copyright Bryan Ball Photography, All Rights Reserved. 

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