Historic Structures

Olana - Frederic Edwin Church House, Hudson New York

Date added: August 28, 2015 Categories: New York House Mansion

Olana was lived in by and designed in large part by Frederic Edwin Church, famous American painter of the Hudson River School. The mansion is a combination of Western and Near Eastern architecture. Church and his wife toured Europe and the Wear East. As a result of these visits, Church incorporated architectural versions of the two different parts of the world in his design for a new home. The styling of his house is largely Moorish. The design includes several Persian themes which Church called "personal Persian."

Architect Calvert Vaux had a supervisory role in the design; he also drew plans for the 37-room mansion. The vastly sculptured landscaping design was done by Frederick Law Olmsted.

At the time of Church's death in 1900, his estate was in an unfinished state. The artist liked to improve or change the visual effects of his place.

In 1860 Church moved to his property and lived in a small cottage. Construction of Olana was started in 1870 and finished in 1874. Following Church's death, his family continued to live in the estate until 1964, when the widow of Church's son died. New York State later bought the mansion and its land, and opened the mansion to the public in 1967. 143 acres of land was given to Columbia-Greene Community College for a new campus site.

The college's main building, which has since been built, features an interesting design that harmonizes with the nearby Olana. The colors of the exterior are similar, cream, rust and dark brown. Light green roof tiles and black frames for the doors and windows echo Olana. Edgar Tafel, a well-known architect and a Wright disciple, designed this building.

Click here to see Frederic Church Art