Wethersfield Estate

Gardens, museums, grand homes on large estates can do such wonders for the soul for those looking to get away from the day to day doldrums and wrap themselves in a bit of beauty, history, nature and glamour. The Wethersfield Estate offers visitors such privileges on its 1,200 acre-estatein New York where people can tour a beautiful home (now a museum), lush gardens, a traditional Carriage House anddairy farm – all with panoramic views of the Catskills and the Berkshires as the backdrop, says Brad Reifler.

The Wethersfield Estate offers its guests many opportunities to leisurely stroll through its lovely grounds to explore the garden, the museum, the dairy farm and the Carriage House.

The history of the Wethersfield Estate stretches back to the 1930s when conservationist Chauncey D. Stillman (1907 – 1989), a man with incredible vision that was clearly ahead of his time, purchased the two adjacent Dutchess County dairy farms of 600 acres in 1937 and continued to purchase the surrounding properties until he died in 1989. The farm had by then grown to 1,200 acres and has a ground home, gardens, carriage house and of course the working farm.

Visitors will find the farm to be on beautiful grounds surrounded by soft rolling hills and lovely trees dotting the landscape. But the farm was more than just beauty. According to the Wethersfield website, Wethersfield was one of the first farms in the US “…to practice soil and water conservation. Twelve ponds were constructed for irrigation and the prevention of soil erosion. Early conservation practices included crop rotation, contour strips and biodynamic farming.”

The Wethersfield gardens were also the brainchild of the astute and nature-loving Stillman who was inspired by theItalian Renaissance and its use of water, sculpture, topiary and terraces in his initial designs, explains Brad Reifler. As the gardens expanded over the years, Stillman (working handin hand with renownedarchitect Evelyn N. Pohler) added in elements from English gardening and classical styles, according to officials at the Wethersfield estate. Visitors will come across many surprises in addition to a variety of flora and fauna including an intimate Inner Garden as well as dolphin-shaped fountains that spout into a long narrow canal. The Arborvitae Alleewith a Naid Fountain, the Peacock Walk and the Belevdarer are some of the wondrous sites visitors will encounter, according to Wethersfield Estate experts.

In addition to the farm and gardens, the Wethersfield Georgian-style colonial brick residence, designed by architect Bancel LaFarge in 1939, is now a museum, offering framed portraits of the gardens and surrounding areas. In addition, the museum also features Stillman’s collection of antiques, sculptures and paintings.

Guests may also tour the Carriage House, which Stillman built in 1937. Among his many talents, Stillman was also an accomplished equestrian and wanted to provide facilities for fox hunting and recreation, says Brad Reifler.