Hyde Hall

Hyde Hall Garden Notes

George Clarke was well versed in gardening and landscape architecture and held an extensive library of literary and trade sources on the topics.  The gardens at Hyde Hall were re-developed several times, beginning with items for practical use and then turning to a mix that included more ornamental plants and flowers.  Clarke also invested in apple orchards on the estate and experimented with other types of fruit trees as well.

The Hyde Hall gardens were located on the grounds on what is currently the parking pavilion for Glimmerglass State Park, just below the location of the family vault.  There was a garden house in this area and a fountain in the center.   The archived receipts show that the Clarkes  purchased decorative plants and flowers, fruit trees, and a number of items presumably used as supply for household meals.

A few drawings of the Garden Plans are below:

Plan of Garden CLR 37sm Revised Garden Plan CLR p 40sm


Below are receipts from orders made in the early 1800’s, many of which are from the G. Thorburn Seed Company in New York City.  Grant Thorburn  became a seedsman in 1805. He struggled through discouragements, failures, and even (in 1808) bankruptcy, and ultimately made his seed business one of the greatest in the world.  You can read his ‘Life and Writings of Grant Thorburn’ work from the New York Public Library here.

For more about the gardens at Hyde Hall, see Executive Director, Jonathan Maney’s article in the Fall 2014 Newsletter “New York’s Oldest English Landscape Garden”.

Doc 4 A Garden seedsm


Doc 5 A 20 Apple_6 Plum_15 Pecan treessm

Document 1 A Bill for Garden Seeds-1sm

Document 2 A Garden Seeds_Thorburn NYsm

Source: Hyde Hall Cultural Landscape Report, 2011, William Neil Marzella.

Traditional Woven Coverlet Symposium 2015 at Historic Hyde Hall

Cherry Valley, NY:  Rabbit Goody and Thistle Hill Weavers are delighted to announce that a special Symposium on Traditional Woven Coverlets will take place May 1-3, 2015, at Hyde Hall in Springfield, NY. Anyone with an interest in coverlets is encouraged to attend. Participants are especially encouraged to bring their own coverlets and images to share and discuss.

“This is a unique opportunity to explore an exciting and important range of woven coverlets not typically available for examination” says organizer Rabbit Goody. “We benefit from shared discussion, and it is always exciting to see what participants bring to share.” The Symposium brings together historians, collectors, curators, and enthusiasts for a lively exchange of ideas and information. Goody will also bring a selection of coverlets from her own extraordinary collection to share with the group.

CategoryCoverletWhat about that lion border? Is this an unusual design or color combination? This Symposium is designed to contribute new understandings of the woven coverlet in America. Goody, a leading expert in the study and manufacture of 18th and 19th century textiles, will lead discussions on the definition of the genre, regional styles and influences, and what we might identify as common to all coverlets.

Participants will also have the opportunity to see the recently installed reproduction carpets at Hyde Hall, and tour this magnificent 50-plus room regency mansion located at the north end of Otsego Lake. One of the finest representations of romantic classicism in America, Hyde Hall is one of the “two or three greatest houses in America,” according to Brendan Gill, architecture critic for the New Yorker. Designed by Philip Hooker and built by George Clarke between 1817 and 1835, Hyde Hall is a National Historic Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, and is a New York State Historic Site. The stone mansion sits inside Glimmerglass State Park, a lake front park with 42 campsites, beach, showers, boating, and picnicking facilities on Otsego Lake (1 Mill Road, Springfield, NY 13333).

Rabbit Goody is owner of Thistle Hill Weavers in Cherry Valley, NY. For more than 20 years, Thistle Hill Weavers has been weaving luxurious custom fabrics, carpet, and trim for designers, home owners, museums, and the film industry. Goody specializes in creating accurate historic reproductions, working from surviving examples, documented patterns, and period weavers’ drafts.

The Symposium begins 10:00am Friday May 1 and concludes at 4:00pm Sunday May 3. Registration is $155 and includes lunch all three days and special tours of Hyde Hall. For registration information and questions, see our website (www.thistlehillweavers.com) or contact Rabbit Goody 101 Chestnut Ridge Road, Cherry Valley, NY 13320. Call 518-284-2729 or email rabbitgoodythw@gmail.com.


New Carpet

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

In the fascinating process of choosing designs and colors for not one, but three new carpets for the Great Rooms at Hyde Hall*, we are consulting with a number of well-known experts on period carpets, among them Rabbit Goody of Thistle Hill Weavers, David Luckham of Living Looms, and Dave Hunt of the Vermont Custom Rug Company

Carpet SamplesSamples of period carpet designs provided by David Luckham

In a recent visit to Hyde Hall, Mr. Luckham pointed out that our choice of Drawing Room carpet will depend upon the other two carpets in the Great House—the ones for the Entrance Hall and the Dining Room. “These carpets should not be overly “matched,” he said, “but they should coordinate.”  He said that in the period, a certain contrast was desired—enough to make the transition from room to room interesting but not visually jarring or discordant.

carpet design 3


carpet design 1
Two possible designs from The Grosvenor Wilton Company Ltd., provided by Dave Hunt

Imagine the two carpets above in coordinating colorways and adjacent rooms! The success of this approach depends upon a careful balance of differences and similarities in design and colors.

carpet laid out Grosvenor Wilton sample on floor, showing scale and general appearance in place

George Clarke, as an Englishman of his background and education, understood this implicitly and would most certainly have achieved a correct balance of this kind at Hyde Hall.

* Thanks to several very generous donors

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mysteries

“You too could help solve a mystery!”

The late Robert Stack used this tag line when he introduced that pioneer reality TV show, Unsolved Mysteries.

At Hyde Hall, we are constantly reviewing and learning new aspects about this fascinating homestead and the five generations of the family who built it and lived here for nearly a century and a half.

This past year our in-house “History Detectives” have been re-discovering a wealth of artifacts ranging from lost wardrobe pieces, the silver plated front door pull cover, the original mahogany coat racks, and the front hall stove pipe. Information about our vast collections is becoming more accessible as old bills are scanned and matched with pieces from corner cabinets to dishware.

Besides artifacts, we have been exploring the many connections between the Clarkes and the notable figures with whom they interacted. While members of the family may not have been famous, they were well acquainted with significant historical figures such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (attorneys for George “the Builder”), Samuel Morse, Juliette Gordon Low, both President Roosevelts, and assorted Rockefellers – and they witnessed great events from the building of the Erie Canal to the sinking of the Titanic.

Yet for every new clue or discovery, another mystery crops up. Here’s where we present some of our latest mysteries to see if any of you might help us with that “missing link” – a photo or document, a witness or a newspaper account – that will add to the impressive heritage of Hyde Hall.

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