4. Wyndcliffe, Rhinebeck

Wyndcliffe Mansion exterior.

Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones commissioned the Norman-style mansion at Wyndcliffe. It was designed by George Veitch and built in 1853 in the Hudson Valley town of Rhinebeck. Originally an extravagant estate on 80 sprawling acres, the home has since become one of the region’s most famous ruins. It is believed that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” originates from the lavish lifestyle of Elizabeth and the attempts of her contemporaries to match it. Elizabeth’s mansion featured high arches and a three-floor central atrium topped with stained glass that was likely made by Tiffany.

One person who did not admire the mansion was Elizabeth’s niece, American novelist Edith Wharton. In recollections of her summers spent at Wyndcliffe, Wharton wrote, “I can still remember hating everything at Rhinecliff, which, as I saw, on rediscovering it some years later, was an expensive but dour specimen of Hudson River Gothic.” The Joneses sold the home to the Finck family who called it “Linden Grove” for the many Linden trees on the property. The Fincks were the last family to own the mansion for a significant period of time. It has been abandoned since the 1950s and since then has been steadily decaying and falling apart. A demolition permit requested by the owner in 2016 was approved but never acted upon, so there is still a glimmer of hope for this once-grand estate. As of December 2022, the current owners, brothers John and Mark Barboni, have submitted an application to the town for work that will stabilize the ruins.