Sunnyside

Magic dwells in Tarrytown – magic, mirth, and a smidgeon of mystery.

On the banks of the Hudson River stands a house called Sunnyside. Sunnyside is not a grand house, like neighboring Lyndhurst (see photo on right). Lyndhurst is a castle of a house, an outstanding example of American Gothic Revival architecture built by a man of substance and made grander still by those who came after.

Nor is Sunnyside a house that prompts thoughts of great wealth like Kykuit (see photo on left), the home a few miles up the road that oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller carved from a mountain top. His grandson, Nelson Rockefeller, filled the six-story mansion with modern art inside and out – Picassos and the like – before the family left the home to the National Trust.

Sunnyside is, instead, a humble, fairy tale sort of house.

In 1835, after an adventurous life in America and abroad, noted author Washington Irving bought a simple two-room Dutch cabin, built in 1656, and some acres of land surrounding it. His idea, he wrote, was to “make a little nookery somewhat in the Dutch style, quaint, but unpretending. It will be of stone.” And thus, Sunnyside was born.

Irving’s young fiancé had died of consumption and he never married. In his later years he lived at Sunnyside with his widowed brother and five nieces. He was a genial, hugely popular man who entertained renowned literary figures and United States Presidents alike within the walls of his humble cottage.

What is it that causes one house to stand apart from its neighbors?

Is it the stone, wood, and skill that creates the structure? Is it simply the setting? Or does some spiritual remnant of those who have lived within linger to bid us welcome?