Vanderbilt Lane Historic District
The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District is located on Vanderbilt Lane in a residential section of the town of Hyde Park, Dutchess County, New York. The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District is bounded on the west by U.S. Route 9, on the north and east by private property, on the south by St. James Church and on the southeast by a modern subdivision. The general character of the neighborhood is a mixture of residential buildings and open and wooded lots. The terrain is relatively flat with grassy lawns, small bushes and hedges and trees of varying height. There are five contributing buildings (two dwellings, one coach house, a creamery and a portion of the barn complex), one contributing structure (a stone well) and three contributing objects (a stone wall, two fire hydrants and a cast-iron fence with a gate) located within this district of approximately 10 acres. The buildings within The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District have undergone few alterations since their initial construction between 1830 and 1901, the setting of The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District has remained virtually unchanged. The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District, once part of the nearby larger Vanderbilt Estate, now a National Historic Site, represents the acreage associated with the district when this portion of the estate was subdivided in the 1940's.
The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District consists of a number of surviving buildings from the Vanderbilt Estate farm complex. The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District includes the farm superintendent's residence, the herdsman's house, creamery, coach house, remnants of a massive barn and stable complex, clock tower remnants and a well house. The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District is located along the north and south sides of Vanderbilt Lane. All of the buildings included within The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District are of frame construction with wooden shingle or clapboard sidings, the exception being the creamery, which is constructed of stone. The north side of the lane from U.S. Route 9 to the barn complex is lined by a contributing three-foot high, fieldstone wall with bluestone coping.
The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District retains the feeling and sense of a nineteenth-century agricultural complex associated with the Vanderbilt Estate. The buildings were, and remain today, small-scaled frame and stone construction, located in an uncrowded setting. The farm complex was an integral part of the estate. The complex has since been subdivided and the buildings are now under separate ownership.
The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District is historically significant as the center of the working farm and stable area for the opulent estate of Frederick W. Vanderbilt. The major portion of the estate, located west of the district across U.S. Route 9, has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The surviving buildings from the farm complex are architecturally significant as distinctive components of a turn of the century barn and stable complex related to a large estate. The buildings are particularly important because so few of the great Hudson River estate's agricultural buildings survived the breakup and development of the large riverfront holdings. Of all of the river front estates in Hyde Park, only the Vanderbilt and Dinsmore barn complexes survive with any level of integrity.
The area of Dutchess County known as Hyde Park was made up of three early land grants: the "water-lots" section of the "nine Partners Patent" of 1697, the Pawling Patent of 1696, and the Fauconnier Patent of 1705. The Pawling Patent was subdivided ca.1698. As early as 1730, a part of the Fauconnier Patent was known as Hyde Park. Very little settlement occurred in the area prior to the mid-eighteenth century. A number of large estates were established in Hyde Park as early as 1760, including the John Bard Estate and the George Rymph farm. Dr. Bard's use of his estate as a retreat and retirement home helped to set the pattern of large, elegant estates along the Hudson River in Hyde Park.
When Frederick Vanderbilt purchased the Walter Langdon Estate (formerly the Drs. Bard and Hosack Estates) in 1895, the barn buildings were in a state of extreme decay, Vanderbilt hired E.S. Foster in 1898 to repair the buildings. An 1894 map of the eastern portion of the then Langdon Estate shows that the duck pond, spring well, U-shaped barn complex, herdsman's house and a building on the site of the coach house were in the same configuration as at present. In June 1901, a contract was awarded the firm of Cregan and Collins for the construction of a large barn complex to replace the Langdon barn. No architect was listed. However, it is believed that the designers of the Vanderbilt Mansion and nearby Wales and Howard mansions, McKim, Mead and White, were responsible for the design of the barn complex. The creamery, superintendent's house and a new barn were built during this period.
The barn was built on the foundation of an older structure in the Shingle style. The superintendent of the farm's house was also built in this style. Features associated with the Shingle style include windows grouped in pairs or bands, projecting bays, wood shingle siding, conical towers, rusticated stone (on the southern ends of the U-shaped barn complex), cross gable roofs and round-headed or variant tripartite windows. The barn complex features decorative detailing, including turned posts, pilasters and denticulated cornices. The dominant theme of the styling is in the surface texture of the buildings, especially the use of fieldstone with brick corners and window surrounds in the south ends of the barn complex.
The barn complex contained a horse barn and an oxen and bullpen in the west section. Hay was stored in the large central section. The eastern section contained a cow stable, an arched passageway, a machinery room and an office and recreation room in the southern end.
The creamery is the most architecturally distinctive building within the complex. Its picturesque, asymmetrical quality sets it apart from the other buildings in the complex. The small size of the building is emphasized by the massiveness of the porch supports and the decorative timbering around the ice loft. The interior features glazed brick walls and a vaulted ceiling. The interior and exterior craftsmanship of this small building reflect the level of sophistication that went into the design of the complex. A steam furnace in the basement of the creamery piped heat across the lane to the barn to warm the cows in the winter.
The herdsman's house remained from the Landgon Estate. The late Federal style house retains its clapboard-siding, Federal period trim and doors, pine flooring and stone fireplaces in the cellar.
The coach house, originally a part of the nearby Sexton Estate, originally stood directly south of the superintendent's house. Vanderbilt purchased the Sexton Estate and had the coach house moved, in two sections, to its present location. Vanderbilt used the building for his thoroughbred Belgium horses.
Frederick Vanderbilt (grandson of Cornelius) was director of the New York Central Railroad for over 61 years. He was also the owner of a number of other railroads and one of the wealthiest men of his era. The Vanderbilts spent spring and fall at their Hyde Park Estate, winter in New York City and summer at one of their other estates. The Vanderbilt Lane Historic District was an integral part of the estate. Butter, milk and cream were shipped by rail to the Vanderbilt's New York City home during the winter and the estate was well known for its prize livestock and produce. The west portion of the Vanderbilt Estate has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The remaining farm buildings, clustered along Vanderbilt Lane are highly intact components of an estate farm complex in the town of Hyde Park.
Hasbrouck, Frank, ed. The History of Dutchess County, New York. Poughkeepsie, New York: S.A. Matthieu. 1909.