• Kofi Deb

The Art of Olana State Historic Site

One of my favorite New York landscape artists, Frederic Church (1826-1900), made the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York his home. He created Olana, the beautiful house which has been turned into a State Historic Site in Hudson, NY, open to the public year-round, with views of the majestic Catskill Mountains that Church was so fond of painting.

Church was a world traveler, and he was inspired by the colors and shapes he saw in his travels when he created his home. Today, many of those colors and shapes are seen in the walls, doors, windows and alcoves in the home he created for his family.

He also wanted to create a space where his children could play and his family could enjoy the views daily, so there was plenty of outdoor spaces made available to be used during good weather.

One of the charming aspects of the home is the use of the trees found on the property to create sitting spaces and fences in a unique way. Today, the sitting areas are maintained for the visitors, and create a welcome respite after hiking around the property.

Something not available this time of year is the beautiful gardens that flourish the summer, which Mrs. Church planted and maintained, and is a haven for New York’s birds, bees and butterflies. I have been to Olana during the summer, and enjoyed seeing the flora and fauna and the wildlife the enjoys the garden spaces that Mrs. Church created.

A trip Olana is definitely a must-do for anyone planning a trip to New York. Only about an hour north of New York City, this is a trip worth making outside the City limits, especially to see the mountains New York State has to offer. Frederic Church created more than art in painting, he created a home that is art in and of itself.

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