When you go on holiday with a historian it's rather inevitable that you go and "do some history stuff"....
And so we did, we stayed in an Air B&B just outside of Woodstock, so were in prime position for all the lovely stuff there is to see and do along the Hudson valley.
Whilst Jill was in a workshop hitting bits of metal with a hammer, I took myself off to visit Wilderstein Historic Site. This was probably the most quirky of all the places I went to, parts are stunning, others are in urgent need of restoration. Alas, I was stopped from taking any photos whilst inside, which is a pity because there was some stunning stained glass. Even more annoyingly it would seem that plenty of other people were allowed to take plenty of photos...
The last owner of Wilderstein was Daisy Suckley, who was a distant cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and gave him his famous black Scottie Fala. It was a guided tour, with a somewhat odd tour guide, who knew lots about the life of Daisy, but very little about the house itself, which was sad. I was probably one of this annoying visitors who asked awkward questions, and answered the questions other people were asking...
The next day, it was slightly further down the Hudson to visit FDR's country home.
The most notable thing about both of these "grand houses" was the lack of grandness! In the UK we're used to the historic houses that we visit, being huge, with enormous numbers of rooms. When the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stayed here I suspect they found it rather charming, none of the rooms are large, and there are surprisingly few of them.
We expected our visit to take a few hours, were there all day practically from opening time, until the place closed. The museum that's located in the Presidential library building is outstanding, packed full of information, but presented in a way that keeps you interested. I knew bits and pieces about this part of American history, but had only scratched the surface.
Can't help but feel we could do with someone with the strength of character of both FDR and his wife Eleanor. We hoped to make it up to her country house, but ran out of time, but she really was an amazing woman, so it's on the list for our next visit.
At the end of the day while Jill and I sat eating an orange, and having a drink before getting in the car we were kept amused by the number of people taking selfies of themselves with both Roosevelts, I suspect they might have found it rather delightful!
A day filled with history was topped off with a bit of history of another sort...
A burger in a proper American Diner.
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