Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside, is still standing, just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York. The original house and the surrounding property were once owned by 18th-century colonialist Wolfert Acker, about whom Irving wrote his sketch Wolfert’s Roost (the name of the house). The house is now owned and operated as a historic site by Historic Hudson Valley and is open to the public for tours.
you can see the Hudson River behind the house there on the left side. It was very close to the river. Unfortunately, the railroad built tracks very close to the river and behind his house shortly after he bought the home, and this was a great dissappointment to him. when touring the house several trains went by and it was a sad disturbance to the glorious environment and peaceful area by the river.
Irving purchased the property on June 7, 1835 for $1,800; he would later, through the years, add to the property to expand the estate. Irving requested that his friend and neighbor, English-born painter George Harvey, become his aesthetic collaborator and foreman in the house’s subsequent remodeling and enlargement, and the landscaping of the grounds in Romantic style, which included creating a pond Irving called “The Little Mediterranean”, with a waterfall that led to a babbling serpentine brook.
The result, a “cottage” which shows Dutch Colonial Revival, Scottish Gothic and Tudor Revival influences, with its wisteria-covered, stepped-gable entrance, is instantly recognizable, and was widely known even at the time, appearing in Harper’s Weekly and in guidebooks to the area. in 1847, he added to the cottage the “Spanish Tower”, influenced by Spanish monastic architecture and the Alhambra in Granada.
One thing that amazed me was Irving had skylights installed in his home – who would have imagined skylights in the 1800’s??? marvelous. Also he had little windows in the walls to pass things back and forth – another modern thinking design.
Sunnyside is now operated as a museum by Historic Hudson Valley, which charges an admission fee. It contains a large collection of Irving’s original furnishings and accessories. In particular, all furniture and most accessories in his writer’s study are original. The study, dining room, parlor, kitchen, as well as most bedrooms, are open to the public and contain much of their original furnishings, or replacements which were owned by the Irving family.
Sunnyside was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962