A Garden from the Gilded Age
Welcome to the Frederick W. Vanderbilt Garden Association, Inc. A non-profit organization, we are dedicated to the rehabilitation and continuing beauty of the formal gardens of the F. W. Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, NY.
Built by a grandson of the infamous Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, the estate is a beautiful example of the lifestyle of the rich and famous during the early part of the 20th century, America's 'Gilded Age'. Its location on the banks of New York's beautiful Hudson River Valley also affords magnificent views of one of the most important places in American history.
A large, formal garden was common to most estates of the period. Frederick Vanderbilt, who was an avid gardener himself, established an Italian-style, terrace garden containing many varieties of roses, annuals and perennials. After his death in 1938, the estate was sold to the federal government thanks to the intervention of President Franklin Roosevelt. While the grounds, landscaping and buildings were preserved, there was no money to maintain the gardens. The ravages of time, weather and neglect took their toll. By the 1980's, the gardens were a faint memory.
Then, a few intrepid local volunteers proposed to try and re-establish some of the beds. In 1984, with the permission of the National Park Service, they joined together to plant some of the lost beds of annuals. Since then, the volunteers of the FWVGA have grown to over 100 and have contributed well over 207,000 hours raising money, researching garden history, planting, weeding and caring for the plants and fountains of the garden. Known for their green t-shirts and tireless devotion to their work, the FWVGA has brought life back to a garden once thought to be beyond repair.