Site #2 Olana State Historic Site
Introduction by Kevin J. Avery, Senior Research Scholar, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
"Almost an hour this side of Albany is the Center of the world—I own it." The boaster was Frederic Edwin Church, perhaps the most renowned of second-generation Hudson River School painters, and the "Center of the world" was the summit of the Sienghenburgh, in Hudson, New York, which became the site of his exotic home, Olana. Well before he designed and built the spectacle of his house, Church had fixed on the spectacle from the hill. It embraced the Hudson River and its valley, overlooking, to the west, the Catskill home of his late teacher, the Hudson River School founder, Thomas Cole, and the indelible Catskill Mountain range beyond. There Cole and he had rambled and sketched together in Church's youth as a landscape painter. Though he would eventually travel the world over and make vast paintings of South American volcanoes and cloud forests, northern icebergs and auroras, and the ancient cities of the Orient, Church returned again and again, in every season, to the view southwest of his estate—especially when he began to build and, with his family, live in his castle. Seen from the vicinity of the house's south entrance (called the "Ombra"), the Hudson River broadens into a "lake" (which Church opted visually to repeat, in digging the pond at the foot of his hill) and the Catskill foothills taper off into the Shawangunk Mountains beyond. Despite the small size of Church's oil sketches and studies of the view from Olana, they remain among the most memorable images in his work.
Plan Your Trip
Visit their Website
Admissions $15 per person. Visitors age 12 and under are FREE
Meets few ADA standards and has significant barriers. Most visitors with disabilities will need assistance
Hours vary by season: olana.org/plan-your-visit/
Map & Directions
Driving Directions: We recommend Google Map . Site coordinates: 42.217251 Lat., -73.827202 Long.
Location Notes: From Trail Site 1 (the Thomas Cole Site), turn right out of the parking lot and immediately bear right onto Route 23 East. Go over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and bear right onto Route 9G South. Olana is on the left one mile south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. For detailed directions from other points of origin, please visit the Olana website.
Photo / Painting Credits
Frederic Edwin Church. Catskill Mountains from the Home of the Artist. Oil on canvas, 1871, 22 1/8 in x 36 3/8 in. Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, OL.1983.13.
Frederic Edwin Church. Sunset from Olana. Oil on off-white academy board, July 2, 1870, 11 1/16 in x 16 1/8 in. Olana State Historic Site, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, OL.1976.8.
Beth Schneck. Southern View Panorama from Olana. , 2013. Beth Schneck Photography.
Carri Manchester. The Main House at Olana. Photograph, undated. Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, NY. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Andy Wainwright. The Moorish-inspired Front Hall at Olana. Photograph, 10 Jun 2003. Photograph © Andy Wainright.