Tag Archives: Olana State Historic Site

Olana Civil War Event: Rally ‘Round the Flag

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The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers will present a free concert of music popular during the Civil War along with letters and commentary from and about the war. The music starts at 2 PM on the East Lawn at Olana State Historic Site on Saturday, August 13, 2011. There is a $5 per car fee at the entrance to the park; bring your own blankets and chairs; the concert is from 2 – 4 PM.

The 77th New York has appeared many times at Olana, each time to an enthusiastic response. This year, their performance is part of the Sesquicentennial observances of the Civil War taking place throughout the country. The 77th New York will provide a look at the war from a musical perspective. Dressed in authentic reproductions of historic uniforms and costumes, the 77th New York provides a musical and narrative story of both sides in the painful and bloody conflict

The Civil War is of importance to Olana because of its relevance to Frederic Church, his art, and his family. While Church did not fight in the Civil War, he supported it financially; some of his greatest works, like Icebergs and Cotopaxi, were produced during this time. He and his family, like so many in this country, suffered the deaths of dear friends in the conflict. Long time friend and author Theodore Winthrop was lost in one of the first battles of the war; later friend and fellow Connecticut artist John Jameson died at the infamous Andersonville prison camp.

Currently, an exhibit, Rally ‘round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War, is featured in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery. The exhibit explores the Civil War connection to the artist and the country; it also provides a look at the paintings and a career cut short by the conflict, the works of Church’s young friend and artist, John Jamison.

Olana Third Thursdays Curator Tours

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The Olana Partnership and the Olana State Historic Site have announced the remaining Third Thursdays Curator Tour Series. The Curator Tour Series provides an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes opportunity to experience Olana under the guide of its curatorial staff. Tours will showcase Olana’s latest exhibition in the Evelyn & Maurice Sharp Gallery and include a component that focuses on Olana’s artist-designed landscape.

These tours are held on the Third Thursday of each month from 5:30-7pm. Each tour will feature its own unique theme and explore many of the various influences that impacted Frederic Church and his design of Olana.

Sara Griffen, President of The Olana Partnership explains that the tour series evolved out of an interest from the community to have more one-on-one time with our curatorial staff: “We have inaugurated this series in response to frequent requests that we offer more in-depth tours, whereby visitors can study the landscape, objects, and architecture in a more leisurely fashion – we hope this provides a new opportunity for the public to enjoy the riches of this magnificent site.”

The series also features wine tastings from some of the regions that had the deepest influence on Frederic Church and his work.

The remaining 2011 tour schedule is as follows:

August 18: Creating a Composition: Frederic Church applied his artistic talent to so much more than his monumental paintings. Olana can be seen as a three-dimensional artistic composition – a living landscape painting he spent decades perfecting. Olana’s curators will lead visitors through the property sharing the many artistic compositions created by Church, from the careful artistic arrangement of objects in the home’s interiors, to the painterly scenes he created outdoors through his own landscaping efforts.

September 15: Influences on Design: The development of the Persian-inspired house grew out of the artist’s experiences in the Near East and the inspirations found in the many books and photographs that he collected during his travels. The artist was also impacted by contemporary trends in American architecture and landscape design. Both these influences permeate the work he continued outside his home in the development of the outbuildings and the landscape. The curators will explain how these sources combined with Church’s own intensely personal artistic expression at Olana.

Space is limited. Tickets are $40 for members of The Olana Partnership, $50 for non-members. To reserve, please call (518) 828-1872 x 103 by the preceding Wednesday. Tours are subject to cancellation without minimum registration. The Behind-the-Scenes Curator Tour is also available for private functions upon special request and availability.

Olana State Historic Site is located at 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534.

Olana Presenting The Life of Emily Dickinson

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The Olana Partnership will present “To See a Summer Sky,” a one-woman theatrical performance based on the life of Emily Dickinson. Excerpted from William Luce’s play “The Belle of Amherst,” on Saturday, July 2 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. The performance will take place at Cosy Cottage, the first home of Hudson River School painter Frederic E. Church located in the historic farm complex at Olana State Historic Site.

The production, performed by Triple Shadow actress Mari Andrejco as Emily Dickinson, and directed by Beth Skinner, focuses on Dickinson’s quiet life of transcendent reflection. Dickinson’s poems were inspired by a circumscribed world of home, garden, and village of Amherst. Andrejco says the play is “created for family audiences and allows them to learn about Emily Dickinson as if they were living at that time period (1830-1886).”

Triple Shadow creates visual theater challenging artistic boundaries, revealing the interconnectedness between human cultures and nature. The collaborative process is intercultural and interdisciplinary, affecting audiences in sensory and subconscious ways creating new perceptions of time and memory.

Mari Andrejco trained with Sanford Meiser at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. She has performed in Europe, Mexico, Egypt, and the United States. Andrejco has done stage acting, television, and video including appearing as Queen Elizabeth I and Susan B. Anthony for PBS. She has worked with Shakespeare and Company, Triple Shadow, and the Pleiades Company and has taught at the Institute for Arts in Education in the Albany schools.

Beth Skinner has premiered ten productions at La Mama E.T.C. in New York City with support from the theater programs of National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as grants from NEA Opera and NEA Presenting Program. The company has toured in Egypt, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Canada, and Indonesia and collaborated with artists from Japan, China, Korea, Hungary, Romania, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia.

The performance will take place at Olana State Historic Site 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY.

Cost of the play is $5.00 per person for non-members and free for members of The Olana Partnership. A $5.00 entry fee per vehicle will be charged (fee is waived for members of The Olana Partnership). This fee may be credited toward a house tour as long as house tour tickets are available. Please bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating. For more information contact Sarah Hasbrook, Education Coordinator for The Olana Partnership, at shasbrook@olana.org or call (518) 828-1872 x 109.

This program is made possible in part through support provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency; the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation; the Educational Foundation of America; the John Wilmerding Educational Initiative, and the members of The Olana Partnership.

Hudson Valley Farm Photo Exhibit at Olana

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Olana has announced the opening of a new exhibition by photographer Brandt Bolding entitled FARM: Agricultural Life of the Hudson Valley. The exhibit in the recently restored Coachman’s House Gallery at Olana State Historic Site.

In 1860, Frederic Church purchased approximately 126 acres of farmland and immediately set out to build a new “farm house” for his family. The artist expanded his land holdings over the next ten years and ultimately moved his family to the larger stone-and-brick house he built near the summit of the hill, but he continued to work on and operate a farm at Olana for the rest of his life. Church was proud of his farming accomplishments, writing friends and family of the success of his orchards, vegetables, and livestock.

The FARM exhibit coincides with extensive farm restoration work about to begin in Olana’s historic farm complex. The Olana Partnership and Olana State Historic Site have secured two major grants to focus on restoring Frederic Church’s farm. Over the next several years, meadow and orchard restoration projects will return the neglected farm to potentially active agricultural use. “According to a report of the American Farmland Trust, every hour we lose 125 acres of farm and ranch land in the U.S.,” reports Olana Partnership President Sara Griffen. “By focusing on the restoration of Olana’s farm we hope to play a small role in ensuring the agricultural future of Columbia County.”

Photographer Brandt Bolding states, “through extensive travels photographing and documenting the farms of northeastern America I am attempting to bring awareness of just a small part of what is at stake. Nowhere is this more of a concern than in the Mid-Hudson Valley…where citizens, and civic organizations large and small rally to preserve the irreplaceable beauty of our landscape from less than circumspect development.”

The photos included in the exhibition will be printed by the photographer in a limited edition of twelve and are available for purchase in the Olana Museum Store. The exhibit will be open every day through October 30, 2011 at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York.

About Brandt Bolding:

Brandt Bolding’s photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and have appeared in newspapers, journals, and publications by various preservation organizations in New York State. His work on agricultural life will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY, later this year. Two of his photographs appeared in the book entitled Old Homes of New England: Historic Houses in Clapboard, Shingle, and Stone published by Rizzoli in April 2010.

Photo: Level Acres Cornfield, Route 82, Columbia County. Courtesy Brandt Bolding Photography.

Olana Offers Children’s Summer Programs

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The Olana Partnership has announced two summer programs for children that will be offered in July and August. Each of the week-long programs offers a distinct experience for children ages 7-14 and parents can register their child for either one or both offerings.

Panorama – Olana’s new summer program for children will be held at the Wagon House Education Center from Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The week-long adventure will explore art, history, and nature through the prism of artist Frederic Church. Children will learn about artist techniques and Olana’s working farm in the 19th century; they will paint in the beautiful Olana landscape and create historic crafts for children. Professional authors and illustrators will enhance the experience of participants through hands-on activities. On the final day of the program, a museum will be set up in the Wagon House to display the children’s artwork.

River School – Olana’s summer dramatic arts program will be held at the Wagon House Education Center from Monday, August 8 through Friday, August 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children will create their own play from soup-to-nuts in this non-competitive program that explores all aspects of story and dramatic arts through the fun and magic of live theater. During this week-long “full process” experience, participants will create original scripts, design and construct sets and props, and stage a performance for family and friends at the end of the week. The theme of the play will derive from exploration of a painting by Hudson River School landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church. While using their imaginations in the inspiring Olana landscape, participants will work on public speaking and expression. Parents of past participants have summed up their children’s experience in River School as an “educational, dramatic arts exposure,” where children gained “confidence, and public speaking experience, and a sense of mastery and achievement.”

Registration forms for children ages 7-14 can be downloaded from Olana’s website. For more information on these programs, please contact Sarah Hasbrook, education coordinator for The Olana Partnership, at shasbrook@olana.org or (518) 828-1872 ext. 109.

Olana’s Wagon House Education Center offers public programs for children, families and the community. The Education Center is located at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York. After entering the site, take your first right after the lake and continue down to the Farm Complex parking lot.

Wagon House Education Center programming is made possible in part through support provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency; the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation; the Educational Foundation of America; the John Wilmerding Educational Initiative, and the members of The Olana Partnership.

Olana Hosts Artists’ Handmade Houses Book Event

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The Olana Partnership and Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios will offer a book talk and signing with author Michael Gotkin and photographer Don Freeman to celebrate the publication of Artists’ Handmade Houses on Saturday, June 18 at 4:00 p.m. on the East Lawn at Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, New York. This event is free and open to the public (a vehicle use fee applies). Light refreshments will be served. Please call (518) 828-1872 ext. 103 or e-mail rsvp@olana.org to reserve.

Artists’ Handmade Houses is a collection of private domains handcrafted by the finest artists and craftsmen in America. This diverse selection of artists includes familiar names such as George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Frederic Church, and Russel Wright, as well as those deserving wider recognition. Constructed between the late-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, these homes were designed and built by artists as expressions of their art and craft. A few of the featured homes have been awarded National Historic Landmark status and several are open to the public, while others have sadly fallen into disrepair or are in the hands of new owners. In some cases, the photographs in this book represent the last record of the house as created by the artist.

Michael Gotkin’s text places each house in the context of its owner’s life and career, providing anecdotes and insights about its development over time and its place in the oeuvre of the artist. With brief histories about each artist and house, and spectacular new photography by Don Freeman, Artists’ Handmade Houses offers a rare glimpse into the personal living and work spaces of some of the greatest American artists and craftsmen.

Don Freeman’s photographs appear regularly in the pages of World of Interiors, Vogue, House Beautiful, and Vanity Fair, among other magazines. Michael Gotkin works as a landscape architect and city planner in New York City, where he is also an advocate for the preservation of postwar design. He has organized design exhibitions with the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Municipal Art Society of New York.

The hardcover book published by Abrams retails for $60.00 and has 240 pages, with 230 color photographs. Copies of Artists’ Handmade Houses will be available for sale at the event and online.

Olana Civil War Exhibition, Reception

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This year marks the sesquicentennial of the fall of Fort Sumter, and the start of the Civil War. Olana’s exhibition: Rally ’round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War on view in the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery at Olana is one of the first exhibitions in the multi-year, regional and national commemoration of the conflict.

The exhibition opens May 26 and runs through October 30, 2011, and features Frederic Church’s most patriotic work, Our Banner in the Sky, a sensational sunrise resembling a Union flag, as well as numerous oil and pencil sketches related to the war and rarely on view. The exhibition is also the first retrospective of the very talented and little known artist John S. Jameson (1842-1864). A free public lecture by Dr. Kevin J. Avery, Frederic Church scholar and senior research fellow at The Metropolitan Museum of Art will kick-off the exhibition season on May 22, 2011 at 2 p.m. in the Wagon House Education Center at Olana.

Fort Sumter was bombarded by the newly formed Confederate States of America on April 11 and 12, 1865, launching the American Civil War. At the time, Church was preparing to debut his latest masterpiece at Goupil’s Gallery in New York City. His reaction was not to cancel the unveiling, but instead to re-title his painting of icebergs, The North, showing his support for the northern cause. Church also pledged the exhibition fees to the Union’s Patriotic Fund – a fund to aid the families of Union soldiers. Less than a month later, in a further act of nationalism Church painted a sunrise as a Union flag, Our Banner in the Sky, in response to the patriotic fever that swept the North. Church’s salute to the flag was published as a chromolithograph by Goupil & Co. and quickly became popular.

The renaming of his great picture, now known as The Icebergs, The North, and the creation of Our Banner in the Sky only represent Church’s initial reaction to the conflict. During the next five years, as the Civil War raged on, Church produced some of his most important works. And many reflected the turbulence of the war. The wonderful artistic source material for these epic paintings remains at Olana, and will be on view in the exhibition. The powerful and surging Under Niagara, 1862 (unlocated) was done from the lively oil sketch, Study for Under Niagara, 1858, in Olana’s collection. The study, which will be on display in the exhibition, represents the inspiration for the masterpiece and an important link to the lost canvas. To create his most devastating war-time vision of the exploding volcano Cotopaxi, 1862 (The Detroit Institute of Arts), Church referenced sketches from his trips to South American in 1853 and 1857.

The pencil drawings of Cotopaxi, featured in the exhibition, were done on location and illustrate Church’s amazing ability to capture the ever changing eruption. As the war turned in favor of the Union, Church returned to the subject of the frozen north, inspired in part by a sketch on display by Isaac Hayes of Church’s Peak, a mountain the explorer named to honor the artist. This watercolor, and Church’s own oil sketch Aurora Borealis (also in the exhibition) informed his large celestial tour de force Aurora Borealis, of 1865 (American Museum of Art, Smithsonian). And after the war, the end of the conflict and the return of hope are reflected by the passing storm and rainbow in Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866 (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), worked out in a small compositional pencil sketch on view in the exhibition.

A number of Church’s paintings were displayed to support the Union, at Sanitary Fairs – public exhibitions held throughout the northeast to benefit wounded soldiers. The best-known was the Metropolitan Sanitary Fair which took place in New York City in spring 1864. Church’s epic canvas The Heart of the Andes was a feature of the exhibition. Church had sold the masterpiece to William Blodgett, but for himself, Church kept Study for Heart of the Andes, featured in the exhibition, as a reminder of the painting that brought him world renowned.

Church was not immune from the tragedy that the war brought to so many American citizens on both sides of the conflict. He lost a good friend and watched the careers and aspirations of others derailed by the war. Church’s friend Theodore Winthrop, after whom the artist’s named his son, was an emerging poet and travel writer and was one of the first Union casualties of the war, falling at the Battle of Big Bethel in June 1861. Arctic explorer and physician Dr. Isaac Hayes was called away from his primary passion to witness first hand the horrors of the war while commanding an army hospital. John S. Jameson was a young landscape painter described in Church’s own words as having an enormous talent and potential, whose life was tragically cut short when he died on August 31, 1864, at the age of twenty-two, only months after enlisting in the Union army.

A Hartford native, Jameson was both an exceptional artist and musician. Church recognized the extraordinary artistic potential of Jameson, commenting to the young man’s mother, “Of all the younger artists whose personal acquaintance I have made, and whose works and characteristics of mind and heart came to my observation, no one has interested me so much, as your son or held out better grounded hopes of future high excellence.”

Jameson completed very few canvases during his brief life cut short by imprisonment and death in Andersonville Prison. Olana has gathered the six identified paintings by Jameson and for the first time these works are shown together: Landscape in the Olana collection and five works from private collections.

Jameson’s poignant story represents only one of countless young men, on both sides of the battlefield, who gave their lives in the conflict. It is hoped that this initial gathering of Jameson’s works, together for the first time in any exhibition, will provide an opportunity for discovery and artistic comparison, and garner appreciation for this heretofore lesser-known gifted Hudson River School painter.

The stories of Jameson, Winthrop and Hayes serve as a personal counterpoint to the more professional and public support Church would give through his art.

To launch the exhibition, noted Church scholar Dr. Kevin J. Avery will lecture on Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War at the Olana Wagon House Education Center on Sunday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. There is a $5.00 per car fee charged to enter the site on weekends. Members of The Olana Partnership have free access to the site. Please call 518-828-1872, ext. 103 to reserve a seat.

Dr. Avery will discuss the ways in which the Civil War impacted the artist both personally and professionally. Avery will examine Church’s major works from the era of the war and the beginning of reconstruction as barometers of the failures and successes of the Union army and the hopes for the Nation. During this time, Church was at the height of his career and these paintings are his most important canvases.

Kevin J. Avery is a senior research scholar at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and an adjunct professor at Hunter College, City University of New York. A short essay by Dr. Avery will be available in a fold-out pamphlet in the exhibition gallery.

Evelyn Trebilcock, Olana Curator and Valerie Balint, Olana Associate Curator, serve as the exhibition curators. This is the third annual exhibition in Olana’s Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery.

The exhibition is made possible by support from Questroyal Fine Art, the Lois H. and Charles A. Miller Jr. Foundation, TD Bank, The New York State Council on the Arts Museum Program, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Brock Ganeles, David and Laura Grey, Henry and Sharon Martin, Chas A. Miller III, Richard T. Sharp, Susan Winokur and Paul Leach.

Olana is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson, NY 12534. The grounds are open every day from 8:00 a.m. until sunset; guided house tours (reservations recommended) are available Tuesday through Sunday and holiday Mondays, May through October, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and include access to the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery; the last tour starts promptly at 4:00 p.m. Telephone: (518) 828-0135 for reservations and to confirm hours.

Illustration: Frederic Church, Our Banner in the Sky, 1861. Courtesy Olana.

Olana to Host Irish History Themed Tours

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Events such as the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s led to a major influx of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Like many other families in this area, the Churches hired numerous Irish immigrants for their staff at Olana during the years Frederic Church lived on this property (1860-1900).

Two of the longest-serving employees were the Churches’ coachman and head cook, Michael and Jane McKenna – a brother and sister – both of whom were employed here for over a quarter-century. Olana will present special Irish-themed tours Friday-Sunday, March 11-13 & 18-20, at 10 and 11AM, 12, 1, 2 & 3PM.

Photo: Frederic Church’s coachman Michael McKenna is shown here with one of the Church’s horses. Collection Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP.

Olana Partnership Elects New Chair, Board Members

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The Olana Partnership has elected Richard Sharp as Chair of the Board of Trustees at its annual meeting in New York City on January 29, 2011.

Mr. Sharp has been an active member of the Board since 2005, and was a driving force behind the creation of the Evelyn and Maurice Sharp Gallery which opened two years ago at Olana. He is an avid collector of nineteenth century American art and has frequently donated and loaned works in his collection to public museums. Mr. Sharp is a senior partner in the litigation department of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP, a leading international law firm. He received his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, from Brown University in 1970. He studied at Oxford University and the Hague Academy of International Law in 1970-1971, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979.

Mr. Sharp stated, “Olana is unique in combining extraordinary landscape design, architecture and collections. One of my top priorities is to renew our ties to the local community, while increasing our visibility nationally and internationally.” Mr. Sharp also seeks to foster close collaboration among the many Hudson Valley historic sites.

The Partnership also welcomed three new board members at the annual meeting: Stephen Clearman, Rebecca Desman, and Stephanie Zhang.

Stephen Clearman bought Kinderhook Farm in 2003 in Columbia County where he and his partner have established themselves as leading local producers of sustainably-raised beef cattle and sheep. Mr. Clearman started Geocapital Partners in 1984, where he managed a series of institutional venture capital partnerships. In 2002, he started Kinderhook Partners, which invests in small and little unknown publicly traded companies. His interest in Olana coincides with his interest in art and collecting, including Hudson River School paintings.

Mr. Clearman received an M.S. from Columbia University in 1974 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978.

Rebecca Desman is director at Deutsche Bank (DB) and has been an integral part of the growth of DB’s U.S. sales platform in flow credit and derivatives. Rebecca graduated from Princeton University in 2001, where she received her B.A. in Political Science. She plays an active role in undergraduate and diversity recruiting at DB and sits on the Global Markets Women’s Network Advisory Committee. While working at DB, Ms. Desman earned her M.S. in Non-Profit and Fundraising Management at Columbia University. After completing her masters, she joined two major clients of DB and helped set up The Darfur Project, which provided relief supplies for refugees. She is particularly involved in and motivated by global women’s issues and is active in several global charities. She is an avid appreciator and collector of art.

Stephanie Zhang is executive director in the Technology Division of Morgan Stanley and has 19 years of experience working in the financial services industry in New York and Asia. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley, Ms. Zhang worked in EJV Partners to help build out their data center operations. Since 2001, she has focused on building a set of technical solutions and processes in the area of Identity and Access Management for the global Morgan Stanley enterprise.

Ms. Zhang has travelled extensively in Asia, Europe and the Americas. She enjoys the diversity of New York City and takes advantage of its many cultural opportunities; her hobbies include jewelry-making, painting, photography, modern dance, and performance art. She holds a B.A in Computer Science and Statistics from the University of Wisconsin/Madison.

Olana’s Annual Holiday Bonfire

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This Sunday, December 5th marks Olana’s 6th Annual Holiday Bonfire, with caroling by The Merry Minstrels. Explore the house at your own pace, with guides stationed in each room to answer your questions. Afterward enjoy a winter sunset, the company of neighbors and the warmth of the bonfire while enjoying the sounds of traditional Victorian caroling of The Merry Minstrels.

House tours 10AM-4PM (last tour starts at 3), Caroling from 2-4PM, Bonfire from 3-4PM. Call 518-828-0135 for info.

Photo courtesy Olana State Historic Site, NYS OPRHP.