By Amanda Guido
Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie is truly a window to the past. Whether you are a history buff or not so much, there is something for everyone here. This 200-acre estate is home to a 40-room Italianate style villa designed in 1851 for artist and inventor, Samuel Morse. Aside from inventing the telegraph and Morse code, Morse was a very talented artist. His collection is held on site as a permanent exhibition of both his portrait work and inventions. Aside from this gallery, there are some magnificent views of the Hudson and walking paths for every skill level.
I started my morning at the Locust Grove Visitor’s Center where friendly staff greeted me and gave me some instructions for my visit. The first stop was watching an informative video about the mansion and grounds. Every building has a story, and this building tells a magnificent tale of its inhabitants through the architecture, grounds, and furniture collection.
When walking over to the mansion, I stopped at the garden. The highlight was three beautiful archways covered in light pink roses. There were many rows of breathtakingly beautiful, blooming flowers. The Heritage Vegetable Garden was not quite in season yet, but there is a very wide variety of produce grown on the estate. These gardens are definitely a must-see during your time at Locust Grove.
When I finally made my way over to the house, our tour guide, Judi, met the group and gave us some background information about the villa. Morse was actually influenced by his trip to Italy to make this a Tuscan-style villa. He built the Tuscan Tower onto the building and masterfully framed the Hudson to create the perfect view. Although this house’s claim to fame is Samuel Morse, there is so much more to it.
The Young family purchased the house after Morse’s death. Martha Young was an antique collector in the early 1900’s, so the pieces in her collection date back to the early 1800’s and beyond. All of the rooms are cleverly set up and perfectly preserved in a way that captures the presence of its inhabitants. This is thanks to historic preservationist, Annette Young, who cataloged and documented all 15,000 items in her mother’s collection and set up a trust to preserve the house for future generations.
A highlight of the tour was getting to see an original Edison phonograph in the billiards room. Each room was spectacular in its own way, and it was a window into history. Being in this home really does make you feel like you are being transported into a previous century. My tour guide was an encyclopedia of knowledge who expertly interpreted each room and antique.
There are some great events coming up this summer at Locust Grove as well. On Thursday, August 9th, Sunset Sensations Wine and Food Fest takes place with culinary creations - the featured chef is Billy Turner of Gourmet to Go - paired with fine wines. The sunset over the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains are your backdrop. Every third Thursday monthly thru October, enjoy another Sunset Sensations, with a different chef each month.
Samuel Morse spent 25 summers at this Dutchess County retreat. Come and get away for the day or the weekend Samuel Morse style on the beautiful Hudson River. Walk the stunning grounds or come at 10:15am, 11:30am, 12:45pm, 2pm, or 3:15pm for a 90 minute guided tour. The tour fee for adults is $11 and $6 for children. The gardens, grounds, and trails are completely free and open every day from 8am to dusk. This is a must-see in Dutchess this summer!
Locust Grove Website: http://www.lgny.org/
Address: 2683 South Road, Poughkeepsie (Route 9)
Phone: (845) 454-4500