Hyde Hall’s Origins
Hyde Hall was conceived and constructed by George Clarke (1768-1835), an Englishman whose great grandfather and namesake was prominent in the colonial government of New York. As Secretary and later Lieutenant Governor of the province between 1703 and 1743, the elder Clarke amassed 120,000 acres in the Hudson and Mohawk valleys and a sizeable fortune when he returned to England in 1745. That land was the inspiration for young George Clarke to create a new life in the United States.
1806 Settles in Albany to oversee his vast inheritance
C. 1813 Marries Ann Low Cary Cooper, widow of Richard Cooper, elder brother of James Fenimore Cooper. Richard Cooper had been Clarke’s land manager.
1817 Purchases several hundred acres adjoining his wife’s family property, with a spectacular view down the lake to Cooperstown
A 17-Year Process
Clarke cleared and leveled a site on the side of a hill he named Mount Wellington in honor of Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who had been a schoolmate of his at Eton. He commissioned plans for a small country villa from Philip Hooker, the leading architect of Albany, and construction began in 1817.
Within months “The Builder’s” vision evolved into a large country house with family, guest and staff quarters set in surrounding parkland entered through a gatehouse and supported by an entire farm complex. The name Hyde Hall was chosen in honor of the Clarke family’s ancient seat, Hyde Hall in England.
1819-20 Family quarters completed
Early 1820s Adds a large wing for extra bedrooms and staff areas
1824 Clarke inherits his father’s English estates and a Jamaica sugar plantation, affording him the means to complete a large formal entrance block with rooms for entertaining and an addition to the kitchen
1834 The mansion complex completed
1835 George Clarke dies at Hyde Hall