When you grew up, as I did, on the Hudson River, in the vicinity of Pocantico Hills, the Rockefeller name loomed large. In addition to their own stately homes, the family was largely responsible for so many generous gestures in the area, from the charming Union Church with its Matisse and Chagall windows, to the amazing Stone Barns Center to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. Every year in grammar school we would visit the estate farm, excited to milk the cows and jump from the hayloft. When David Rockefeller died earlier this year, the legacy came to a certain closure. As the last surviving grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the Standard Oil magnate, David was known as a titan of industry and philanthropy as well as a mainstay on the social circuit. And now the homes in which he and wife Peggy raised their six children are all on the market.
The New York City townhouse on East 65th Street, with eight bedrooms, eight fireplaces and a garden, encompasses almost 10,000 square feet. Originally build in 1924, the Rockefellers purchased it in 1948, hiring architect Mott Schmidt, who also built for the Astors, Morgans and Vanderbilts, to renovate the interior.
It is, like all of the Rockefeller residences, classic and understated in style. At 40 feet wide, the rooms are generous and perfectly proportioned.
The dining room, above, overlooks the garden and the enormous living room, below, extends the full width of the house.
On over four floors, not including the basement,
gracious living spaces reference the traditional warmth the Rockefellers favored.
all photos above courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens
Then, over the summer, David and Peggy’s Maine estate, Ringing Point, near Acadia National Park (David’s father donated over 11,000 acres to the park and built the now famous carriage roads) on Mount Desert Island was put up for sale.
Overlooking Seal and Great Harbors on 14.5 acres, it includes the main house, below, designed by Peggy in 1972,
a separate study where David wrote his memoirs, below, and a guest house.
The property includes beautifully landscaped grounds
photos of Ringing Point above courtesy of The Knowles Company
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, David and Peggy Rockefeller’s Pocantico Hills estate, Hudson Pines, also hit the market. Originally built by family favorite Mott Schmidt in 1938 for sister Abby Rockefeller, the house was purchased by David and Peggy in 1946.
On 75 acres, overlooking the Hudson, it is a bucolic paradise.
The Rockefeller family property once encompassed 0ver 3,400 acres in and around Pocantico Hills. With most of the land now donated to the state, the inner 250 acres, known as the Park, includes Hudson Pines and other family residences as well as Kykuit, John D. Rockefeller’s estate, now open to the public and well worth a visit.
Hudson Pine’s Georgian style main house, at 11,000 square feet, includes 11 bedrooms and 15 baths. With beautiful pre-war details, the house is decorated in the Rockefeller’s preferred understated traditional style with hints of their personal interests in the details. Note the beetle pillows, referencing David’s lifelong interest in the insects. His collection of over 150 specimens will be donated to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.
And while the house is a beautifully proportioned ode to Mott Schmidt’s talents, and could be updated with spectacular results, it is the setting, property and additional amenities that are so incomparable. A large playhouse for all ages, three bedroom gate house, carriage house, greenhouses,
six-stall barn and private helipad are all part of the estate.
There are specimen gardens, broad lawns and stunning woodlands.
To learn more about Rockefeller gardens (specifically Kykuit and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, on Mount Desert Island, Maine), there is The Rockefeller Family Gardens: An American Legacy by photographer Larry Lederman.
Below, Aristide Maillol’s “Bather Putting Up Her Hair” is beautifully framed by conical hedges at Kykuit
And in Maine, ancient Korean tomb figures line the Spirit Path.
two photos above by Larry Lederman
And while the homes are for sale, the impressive art collection is not – yet! With the proceeds to benefit over a dozen charities, look for what is anticipated to be one of the great sales in recent years coming to Christie’s next spring. Including more than 2,000 items, a series of auctions will include everything from Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern works of art, American paintings, decorative arts and furniture to English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics as well as Chinese export porcelain and silver. As passionate and knowledgeable collectors, they lived with what they loved. As David Rockefeller explained before his death, “Eventually all these objects which have brought so much pleasure to Peggy and me will go out into the world and will again be available to other caretakers who, hopefully, will derive the same satisfaction and joy from them as we have.”