Hyde Hall

THE HAUNTING OF HYDE HALL BEGINS

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Springfield, New York—Many people have passed through Hyde Hall over the years—five generations of the Clarke family and their friends and servants—each with their own history of love and loss.  Some of them never left, or so say the legends that have grown up over the last 150 years around the venerable pile of stone that took George Clarke almost 20 years to finish.  The 2015 edition of The Haunting of Hyde Hall spotlights three family members and one family friend whose lives ended tragically.

The first vignette focuses on a tragic summer afternoon, when a young man suffered the unbearable rejection of his love.  On the afternoon of July 31, 1884, a cousin of the Clarkes, Theresa White was being rowed home by her friend and would-be beau, Edward Steers.  Steers was a handsome, vibrant young man summering in Cooperstown who, according to some accounts, proposed to Ms. White after debarking their rowboat.  Subsequent events are still being debated!

The second vignette dramatizes the fate of young George Clarke who joined the Air Force during WII, while his sister Susan flew supply missions stateside.  This year’s Haunting of Hyde Hall spotlights their fiery deaths, along with the ghostly radio transmission heard by a craftsman 40 years later that transcended time and seemed to originate in George’s plane!

The final vignette features Jane “Jennie” Cooper Worthington, whose portrait now graces Hyde Hall’s palatial dining room.  Jennie married John Worthington at age 20, and died of consumption less than six months later.  Her heartbroken husband, who knew of her illness when he urged their marriage, had the portrait commissioned posthumously and hung in Greencrest, the house he built on River Street for his second wife.  Stories rapidly circulated about the new wife’s distress at seeing Jennie’s life-size portrait prominently displayed in the main stair hall of her home.  When the second wife tried to remove the portrait, pots and pans in the kitchen rattled and flew about, doors slammed shut, and peace could only be restored when the painting was returned to its place of dominance and honor.

This popular series of evening tours is offered July 7th, 14th, and 28th, and August 4th and 11th, at 6:00pm and 7:00pm.  Tours are limited in number, so reservations are recommended.  The cost is $15 per person; call 607.547.5098 for reservations.

Hyde Hall (hydehall.org.mylampsite.com), a National Historic Landmark and New York State Historic Site, was built between 1817 and 1834 as the centerpiece of a 60,000-acre estate inherited by George Clarke, a British-born landowner.  It was inhabited by direct descendants of the Clarke until the 1940s.  It is open for guided tours from May through September, and visitors of all ages will enjoy its beautiful grounds overlooking Otsego Lake and touring its rich collection of furniture, paintings, and decorative arts.  It is located on the grounds of Glimmerglass State Park in Springfield, New York, eight miles north of Cooperstown.

A Banner Weekend for Volunteers!

Hyde Hall’s success depends upon the hard work and goodwill of our amazing volunteers and staff.

 

On Saturday, June 13, we provided a water station for 350 runners in the Race The Lake Marathon and Half-Marathon at our Mill Road entrance, located at Mile 17 of the marathon and Mile 4 of the half-marathon.  Leigh Graham, Julia Dudley, Andrea Bell, John Bower, Jill Maney, Jarka Szabo, and Jane Prior were our stalwart water and Gatorade bearers, while Douglas Kent and Jonathan Maney lustily cheered the runners and walkers on.  In the afternoon, Hyde Hall’s Board of Directors, also dedicated volunteers, held their Annual Meeting in the Administration building, electing two new board members to four-year terms.  Finally, a full house of 69 attended our first musical program of 2015, Moonshine Revelers and Shades of Night. The program and reception were supported by Pam Wightman, who created beautiful cheese platters, and Jill Maney and Samantha Jicha, who poured beverages, stacked chairs, and repositioned Hyde Hall’s furniture after the event’s conclusion.

Hyde Hall deeply appreciates the assistance of volunteers in all its many activities; won’t you join the fun by emailing karenclements@hydehall.org.mylampsite.com and offering your talents?

Paper Treasures

The documentation about Hyde Hall and the Clarke family is an incredibly valuable resource for our work at Hyde Hall.  It guides our restoration efforts and allows us to provide historically accurate information.  Additionally, we are fortunate to have input from Clarke family members to help guide our interpretation of materials along with first hand insights.

Documents

 

“George Clarke (b.1768) had a habit of preserving every document he ever produced or received. In his will, he not only provides for the care of his family and the disposition of his real and personal estate, but also for the disposition of his papers.

“. . . I desire and direct that all titles, deeds, maps, charts, contracts, leases, writings, memorandums whatsoever relating to my estates in the United States of America be kept together in a safe and appropriate manner at my said mansion house of Hyde Hall, but so that any person or persons interested therein may upon reasonable request have access thereto for the purpose of inspecting examining or copying the same or any part thereof if it be necessary or suitable or convenient for them so to do.”

His children carried out his intent; they preserved not only their forebear’s papers, but also their own. Although it is of course impossible to reconstruct totally the original extent of the papers and to note which documents were preserved and which were destroyed, the breadth and depth of documentation of many aspects of the life of the family is remarkable for a collection of this age and extent. “

George Clarke family papers, #2800.
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library
Barry L. Wold
July 1977

The Clarkes of Hyde Hall: A Short History

george-b1676George Clarke (b.1676)
A lawyer by training, Clarke was appointed Secretary of the Province of New York in 1703 and married Anne Hyde, daughter of Colonial Governor Edward Hyde of North Carolina, in 1714. From that point forward, the Hyde name figured prominently in the Clarke lineage. The Hydes were distantly related to Queen Anne and other members of the English royal family, and had owned manorial land in Cheshire and Lancaster since the 13th century. During his tenure as a colonial official, Clarke amassed numerous tracts of land totaling about 120,000 acres through the patent system. In 1736 he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Province of New York. Clarke returned to England in 1745, but these properties were held by the Clarke family in absentia for over 60 years.



george-b1768George Clarke (b.1768)
A great-grandson of Lieutenant Governor George Clarke, he left England and moved to Albany, New York, in 1806 to administer his family’s American property. In 1817 he purchased 340 acres in Springfield, New York, and began the construction of Hyde Hall. Philip Hooker, the noted Albany architect, drew plans based on Clarke’s conceptual vision. The mansion and its English-style Picturesque park setting were mostly completed by the time of Clarke’s death in 1835.

 

 



george-b1822

George Clarke, Jr. (b.1822)
When he inherited his father’s estate, George, Jr. was one of the wealthiest young men in New York, if not America, and one of the country’s largest landowners. Like his father, he experimented in advanced agriculture at Hyde Hall with extensive fruit orchards and later switched to hops as various diseases damaged fruit production in New York state. He experienced financial problems caused by the depression in the 1870s, the fluctuating price of hops, competition from Wisconsin hops growers and the unpredictability of the crop due to weather. He is distinguished as an entrepreneur in 19th-century agricultural methods.


 

george-b1858George Hyde Clarke (b.1858)
After graduating from Columbia University in 1880, he moved into Hyde Hall to maintain the house and manage the local farms. He married Mary Gale Carter in 1885. During the bankruptcy proceedings of George Clarke, Jr. in 1887, Mary Gale Clarke purchased Hyde Hall and several farms totaling about 2000 acres, to continue the country life of the two previous generations with support through farm rentals and producing food for consumption at Hyde Hall. Mary Gale was a great friend of Juliet Gordon Low and it was the country life that Low experienced at Hyde Hall that helped inspire her to found the Girl Scouts of America in 1912.

 


george-b1889

George Hyde Clarke, Jr. (b.1889)
Because of his father’s premature death in 1914, he gave up his plans for a career in railroads to assist his mother in running Hyde Hall and the adjoining farms, which were operated on a share basis. Under his care, the agricultural development and country life continued for his family. Clarke married his first wife, Emily Borie Ryerson, who was a Titanic survivor, in 1914. They had seven children. His second wife was Dorothy Sinclair Rennard Benjamin, whom he married in 1933. Clarke continued the family tradition of respecting and preserving Hyde Hall and its contents as the house began to receive significant national recognition. Edward Root published a monograph on Philip Hooker in 1929. Hyde Hall was featured in Great Georgian Houses of America in 1933 and again in Richard Pratt’s A Treasury of Early American Homes in 1949.


thomas-b1936

Thomas Hyde Clarke (b.1936)
On inheriting the estate in 1955, he worked to carry out his father’s wishes to keep Hyde Hall in the Clarke family. Despite his efforts, in 1963 the mansion and 600 surrounding acres passed to New York State as the result of an eminent domain proceeding to create Glimmerglass State Park.

 
 
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