Description - Olana is today one of the only intact 19th century studio houses in the United States. It was created by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the most renowned American artists of the Hudson River School. Church designed his house both as a work of art and as a home for his family. The interior rooms are intact and are furnished with an eclectic mixture reflecting high style "art" and inherited furniture, objects indicative of Church's interest in the history of civilization, and paintings by the artists and his friends. The site is open for touring April through October.
Copyright: New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Olana State Historic Site
- Olana is the Persian-style home and picturesque landscape created by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the most renowned American artists of the Hudson River School. Begun in 1870, the stone, brick and polychromed, stenciled castle-like structure took two years to build and four years to decorate. Church designed his house both as a work of art and as a home for his family. His architectural approach paralleled the way that he planned a work of art: pencil sketches followed by more finished color sketches. Finally, instead of painting this work of art, he built it. The interior rooms are intact and are furnished with an eclectic mixture reflecting high style "art" and inherited furniture, objects indicative of Church's interest in the history of civilization, and paintings by the artists and his friends.
The informal and natural appearing landscaped grounds were also designed by the artist as a "living landscape" painting. Over a 40-year period, he transformed 250 acres of treeless farm fields into an artistic composition encompassing a lake, park, the grounds immediately surrounding the house, farm, an extensive road system, and superlative views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River.
Olana remained in the Church family until 1964 when plans were made to sell the carefully preserved property at auction. Olana Preservation, formed by art historian David Huntington, purchased the property in 1966 and transferred ownership to the State of New York later that year. Olana is today one of the only intact 19th century studio houses in the United States.
Recreation - Olana State Historic Site offers picnicking, scenic views, guided tours, self-guided tours, a visitor center / museum, hiking trails (cross-country in winter), manicured gardens, a gift shop, educational services and audio-visual programs. Groups should make pre arrangements. Many of the facilities are handicapped accessible. The historic site is open April - May 31 and mid-October - October 31, Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The last tour begins at 4 p.m. The visitor center and museum shop are open April through October, daily at 9:30 a.m. June 1 - mid-October the site is open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The last tour begins at 5 p.m. For visitor comfort and to preserve original finishes, the daily number of tickets is limited. While reservations for individuals are not required, if you are traveling from a distance, they are recommended. Group tour reservations (12 or more) are required and accepted Wednesday-Friday mornings. Admission: $3.00 adults, $2.00 NYS senior citizens, $1.00 children ages 5-12. Children under 5 are admitted free.
Climate - The historic site has a varied climate with average January temperatures ranging from above 22 degrees down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (above -6 degrees Celsius). Summer temperatures average around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). Precipitation in the region ranges from 40 to more than 44 inches of rain and snowmelt.
Olana State Historic Site is located off SR 9G, several miles south of Hudson and the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.