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For the Home of Dark Shadows: “Lyndhurst”

Jay Gould. 

That is a name that remains in my head for two reasons. The first is that he was a third owner of a home I recently visited called “Lyndhurst”.

The second is that he is also the villain behind why President Ulysses S. Grant’s popularity decreased later in his lifetime. 

Ironically on the day I visited Lyndhurst, I came home to write about my visit to President Grant’s tomb, which is why these two places will always be linked in my mind.

Describing Lyndhurst as a home is kind of like describing a Ferrari as a car. 

The home was originally built in 1838 for Mayor William Paulding and his family. At that time the home was half the size as it was on the day that I visited. Paulding and his family called their home “Knoll” at the time. 

The Gothic Revival style of the home was created by AJ Davis, an American architect who was like a nineteenth century version of Frank Lloyd Wright. These two visionary men did not have similar styles, but rather their similarity lies in the ways they created both exteriors and interiors for their clients. It is one of my favorite things about FLW and a reason I warmed up to AJ Davis immediately. That, and that the home is stunning. Luckily for us it also remains full of the Gould’s belongings, as they were the last family to own the home. 

After the Paulding family left, merchant George Merritt purchased the home in 1864 and hired AJ Davis once again, this time to build an add-on to the property. The expansion nearly doubled the size of the home. If you are looking at the house head on, the expansion is pretty much the entire right size of the home. It included a new porte-cochere, dining room, two bedrooms, as well as servants quarters.

It was at that time that the home was renamed “Lyndenhurst” after the Linden trees that were planted on the nearly five hundred acres that surrounded the home. Currently sixty-seven acres now belong to the home. 

The limestone that the house is made of came from the quarry located in Ossining, New York. You might know it by Sing Sing, like the prison with the same name. 

The last owner, was railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Gould purchased Lyndhurst in 1880. It was at that time when the home’s name was shortened to “Lyndhurst”. 

Gould lived here with his wife Helen and their six children. His daughter Helen would inherit the home after her father’s death in 1892. Ironically Gould is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, a place that remains on my 2019 to do list

For the Gould’s, Lyndhurst was only a summer home. It seems that was why so many of the family’s belongings remained intact. 

Helen married later in life and was a revolutionary woman. She had attended law school, taught women in the community skills like sewing, and even had a bowling alley constructed on the property. At that time it was the first of its kind in the country. 

Aside from the nineteen rooms in the home, which include an art gallery, library, parlor, dining room, kitchen, numerous bedrooms and bathrooms, there are also recreational activities like the aforementioned bowling alley, there is also a pool I am told is so large the lifeguard had to use a row boat to get from one side to another. Plus there is a garden AND a conservatory. 

After Helen’s death in 1938, her younger sister Anna, a divorcee from France took ownership of Lyndhurst. She too maintained the home as a country getaway but with a purpose. When World War II ended she allowed soldiers to convalesce here for some time. 

Anna died in 1961 and at that time her family’s beloved vacation home was given to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in her parents memory.

My visit took place the week after Thanksgiving and the home had just been decorated for the holidays. I love seeing beautiful homes made extraordinary during that time of year. 

My tour guide was very informative and we spent a majority of the time learning about the Gould family’s connection to the home. The tour group was small, including my party of three and one additional person who had been there before many years ago. 

I loved having this home all to ourselves. It provided a greater idea of what it might have been like roaming the halls if you lived there. Lets just say for me it would feel like a natural transition.

The rooms were all reasonably sized considering you are touring a mansion and a family’s second home. What made the greatest impression on me, were how many bathrooms there were! There seemed to be one every few feet. 

The decor was also rather understated, especially if you discard the Christmas decorations. But the room I adored the most was the dining room and that had a tree on it. So I guess it depends on your definition of what over the top means. 

On the way out we went to the former carriage house where the tour begins (there are also restrooms) and a gift shop are located. It was there I was reminded of why Lyndhurst was on my to do list to begin with; Lyndhurst is the site where the 1970s Dark Shadow movies were filmed! A fact I had forgotten altogether until I stepped inside the gift shop and saw what they were selling. Naturally I had some purchase to make.  

Imagine my shock and excitement! 

If you can’t then picture a kid in a candy store; same difference. 

Last time I was in this area was back in November 2017 when I took a tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A highlight of which was seeing the mausoleum of Barnabas Collins, a fictional character from Dark Shadows. It was during this blog where I mentioned my need to visit Lyndhurst Mansion because of its connection to my favorite old time television show. 

It is similar to the reason I stopped by The Griswold Inn in Essex, Connecticut. That property was used as the Collinsport Inn for the Dark Shadows TV series. 

Upon rereading my Sleep Hollow blog, I realized there is only one Dark Shadows adjacent property left I need to see; The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. That is the location of the fictional Collins family home, where the majority of the drama takes place. 

I suppose all that is left is planning a trip to Connecticut soon to that end, after adding that to my 2019/2020 to do list, which I believe I have just begun. 

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  1. Great day, great place to visit. Thanks Donna for planning it. Xo


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