THE DR. OLIVER BRONSON HOUSE

Last weekend while continuing to ready The Gilded Owl gallery for a summer opening, I attended the first weekend of annual fundraising for The Dr. Oliver Bronson House in Hudson, New York.  On a stunningly beautiful day, while sipping rosé with Elizabeth Moore, Gary Purnhagen, Carl and Julie Muehleisen we toured this extraordinary house built in 1812 for Samuel Plumb, a wealthy Hudson merchant in the tow-boat business.  Extensively redesigned for Dr. Oliver Bronson from 1799-1875 by architect Alexander Jackson Davis. The original Neo-Classical landscape design was clarified in 1839 when A.J. Davis eliminated outbuildings and fencing reworking the approach to the house and refitting the east facade to take advantage of the picturesque theories of Hudson River School artists and intellectuals.

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detail of doors to sitting room
detail of doors to sitting room
the spectacular three-story elliptical staircase
the spectacular three-story elliptical staircase
exterior of the sunroom facing the Hudson valley
exterior of the sunroom facing the Hudson valley

Davis also extended the second floor roof eaves and added ornamental brackets an egg-and-dart vergeboard and an elaborate trelliswork veranda with a concave metal roof to give a more Romantic character to the house.  Capitalizing on the views of Mt. Merino to the southwest and the Catskills in the distance, the redesign of the house made great use of it’s dramatic setting high above the Hudson River.  One of the crowning highlights of the interior is the remarkable three story elliptical staircase.

The Dr Oliver Bronson House in 1839
The Dr Oliver Bronson House in 1839
fretwork and moldings to be restored
fretwork and moldings to be restored
view from one of the second floor bedrooms
view from one of the second floor bedrooms
rear elevation at sundown
rear elevation at sundown

This year three artists works were shown in the beautifully proportioned rooms throughout this Federal-style masterpiece.  On the ground floor in the front parlor and opposite sitting room, Valerie Hammonds wonderful and haunting wax drawings and sculptures perfectly inhabited these elegant spaces as if they always belonged there.  The first room contains Pensee, a work in wax, silk and wire from 2010 placed on a stand with one bamboo side chair and a large drawing entitled Touch in pigment, colored pencil and wax on paper from 2011.  As you continue to the rear of the house Constellation, a blue wax hand with glass beads and pins is placed upon another stand with a thick glass top in the gorgeous bay window facing the lawn.

Valerie hammond's pensee wax sculpture in the foreground and touch wax drawing behind
Valerie hammond’s pensee wax sculpture in the foreground and touch wax drawing behind
Valerie Hammond's Constellation sculpture
Valerie Hammond’s Constellation sculpture
transition 2, 2008 wax, silk and wire
transition 2, 2008 wax, silk and wire

Kiki Smith’s wonderful large scale ink drawings on Nepal paper with gold and silver leaf and her sister Seton Smith’s photographs filled the rooms of the second and third floors.

An ink work on Nepal paper with silver leaf by Kiki Smith
An ink work on Nepal paper with silver leaf by Kiki Smith
One of the rear bedrooms facing the mountains with afternoon sunlight
One of the rear bedrooms facing the mountains with afternoon sunlight
detail of cracked and peeling paint
detail of cracked and peeling paint
gary purnhagen and kiki smith with guests
gary purnhagen and kiki smith with guests

Historic Hudson’s commitment to The Dr. Oliver Bronson House and it’s extensive renovation began in 1997 and continues to generate support for this National Historic Landmark. Historic Hudson’s Path Through History Weekends continue June 14th and 15th.  Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to a worthy part of New York history and a peak inside one of the most important Federal style houses. You can also contribute by clicking the link below.

www.househudsonvalley.com

www.historichudson.org

www.valeriehammond.com

www.kikismith.com

www.setonsmith.com

 

with elizabeth moore in the sitting room
with elizabeth moore in the sitting room

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