I had done part of this walk before. Starting from Garrison Metro North Station (on weekends the parking is free) I followed the first part of the trail and then turned right, passing over the railway lines to explore Arden Point.. I knew that a trail also carried on straight ahead, but it was a hot day and I was tired so I decided to return to the car. This time I was going to skip the Arden Point part and go straight ahead and see what I could find. I was expecting to discover a fairly pleasant, if ordinary walk through the woods overlooking the Hudson. While I certainly got that I was surprised to come across a lot more: impressive buildings; a wooden gazebo; an historic overlook; crosses in the woods and more. Unknown to me I’d come across the former home of Hamilton Fish, 26th US Secretary of Stare (under Ulysses S. Grant); US Senator from NY; and 16th Governor of New York.

According to The Gilded Age Era website:

In 1861 Governor Hamilton Fish bought a large plot of land in Garrison New York and constructed a large imposing estate at a cost of $30,000 for him and his family. The home, which he named “Glenclyffe”, was considerably large for $30,000 and had 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 3 servant’s rooms, a library, drawing room, dining room, billiard room, den, morning room and a boudoir. The property had a large green house, stables, expansive gardens, gate house and spectacular views of the Hudson.

After leaving the Grant Cabinet, Fish settled down at “Glenclyffe” until his death in 1893, afterward it passed to his son Stuyvesant Fish and his wife Marion “Mamie”. Mamie felt that she could not live in such a small home (almost 16,000 square ft was what she considered small), so Mamie had a large addition built to the left of the house that doubled the size of the original house making it a total of 32,000 square ft. The new addition included a new kitchen, service pantry, servant’s rooms, expanded dining room, sun room and morning room. Mamie also had the back of the house expanded so she could expand the drawing room and stair hall. Where the old kitchen and servants rooms were Mamie had constructed a large ballroom with decorative oak paneling. Every single room except the library was redone and the den was moved upstairs. The new home now had 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 15 servant’s rooms and stables able to accommodate 25 carriages.

Subsequently the property was acquired by the Capuchin Order. A magnificent new building called The Monastery of Mary Immaculate and the former Fish mansion was converted into a nunnery and school and now lies empty.

Eventually the property was acquired by the Open Space Institute and is now the Garrison Institute.

The above picture shows the original mansion, now virtually unrecognizable as a result of the extensive renovations.

Leave a Reply