Here’s some great information compiled by Lanaii Kline and published in the July 2008 STFA newsletter:
Wilderstein and the Stoutenburgh Connection
Printed July 15, 2008
STFA Annual Newsletter
by Lanaii Kline
Thomas Suckley and his wife, Catherine Bowne, were wealthy residents of New York City who wanted a retreat from the city. In 1852, they purchased a 35-acre sheep pasture that was part of Mary Rutherford Garrettson’s Wildercliff estate on the Hudson River. They built an Italianate-style home, which they called Cedars, designed by John Warren Ritch. Later Thomas renamed the home Wilderstein, meaning wild stone, to commemorate an American Indian petroglyph found on the property.
The Suckley family occupied Wilderstein for three generations. Margaret Suckley was the last of the family to reside here dying in 1991 at the age of 99. Margaret was a close companion of President Franklin Roosevelt who called her Daisy. She presented him with the famous presidential dog, Fala. Daisy was in Georgia with Roosevelt at the time of his death in 1945. After she died, friends found a suitcase with letters from Franklin Roosevelt. Geoffrey C. Ward compiled the letters into a book, Closest Companion. (See preview below.)
Upon Thomas Suckley’s death, his son Robert who resided in Orange, NJ, inherited Wilderstein. In 1888, Robert and his wife, Elizabeth Montgomery, remodeled and greatly expanded the home. The exterior was redesigned in the Queen Anne style. Electricity and plumbing were added as well as a burglar alarm. Wilderstein was one of the first homes in the Hudson Valley with electricity and one of the first homes with an alarm system.
Unfortunately the security system in 2002 was not adequate enough to prevent a burglary. Blane Nordahl stole a silver tea & coffee service and a Tiffany lamp. He was caught in 2004 but the items were not recovered.
Robert Suckley commissioned Joseph Burr Tiffany, a well-known New York City interior designer and cousin of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Joseph was the son of Joseph Capron Tiffany and Amanda Cuyler Stoutenburgh, Jacobus and Margaret (Teller) Stoutenburgh’s great, great grand daughter.
Tiffany selected the wall coverings, window treatments, light fixtures, etc. He redesigned the staircase and provided the stained glass windows in the house. The family brought the furnishings from the New Jersey home, which fit perfectly in Wilderstein.
Tiffany completely decorated the White and Gold Room with furniture ordered from Auguste Pottier and William Stymus, fine furniture makers of New York. He decorated this room in the style of Louis XVI. In addition, to interior decoration, Tiffany is also known for his custom designed piano cases for Steinway & Sons. These pianos are known as the Tiffany Steinways.
The Suckleys hired Poughkeepsie architect, Arnout Cannon to design the additions and Calvert Vaux to create the gardens. Vaux was the landscape architect responsible for the design of Central Park in New York City. The gardens at Wilderstein are done in the American Romantic Style.
- Two Hudson River Estates Robbed, Elizabeth Brennan, Preservation Magazine, Wash. DC, 2002
- Wilderstein An Enticing Time Warp, Thomas Weaver, Catskill Mountain Foundation, Hunters, NY, 2002
Wilderstein and the Suckleys: A Hudson River Legacy by Cynthia Owen Philip
Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Relationship Between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley
Check Out the Preview Below