The Hudson Valley region of New York state is dotted with extravagant mansions of times gone by. Luckily, there are still many fine examples of this opulent architecture that still exist, but there are many luxurious estates that have been lost. Here, we revisit some of the most grand estates of the Hudson Valley and explore the stories of why these homes were forgotten.
1. Fowler Place, Fishkill
In the 19th century, octagon-shaped houses were all the rage. This quirky architectural trend is credited to Orson Squire Fowler. Fowler was a phrenologist, lecturer, architect, and editor who penned The Octagon House: A Home for All in 1853, a book that extolled the many health benefits of living in an octagon-shaped home. He argued that the shape allowed more natural air and light to flow through the home and that it had cooling and heating advantages as well.
Fowler built his own octagon house in Fishkill and it became an attraction that drew spectators from far and wide. The 8-side home boasted 60 rooms and sat on 130 acres of property. Amenities of the home included indoor plumbing, hot water furnaces, speaking tubes, and dumb waiters. In 1860, the home was purchased by saddlery merchant Edward Griffin Kidder for $18,000. After Griffin, the curious home had many different owners before being converted into a boarding house. It was condemned in 1897 and demolished. The Hudson Valley does still have an existing octagon house in the town of Irvington.