Arago: 15-cent Lyndhurst

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15-cent Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst, a nineteenth- century Gothic Revival mansion, sits high atop a grassy knoll overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York. The mansion is this style's premier example still standing in the United States. Alexander Jackson Davis designed the building for former mayor of New York City, William Paulding, Jr. (1770-1854). Originally called the 'Knoll,' it was constructed in 1838. The home immediately drew much attention, and critics soon dubbed it 'Paulding's Folly' because they found its jutting turrets and asymmetrical shape unattractive. However, as the perception of wealth and the allure of property changed with the growing nation, so too did perceptions of the mansion.

After Paulding's death in 1854, George Merritt (1807-1873), a merchant and inventor of a revolutionary railcar spring, purchased the house from Paulding's heirs. In 1864, George Merritt called upon Alexander Jackson Davis once again to add an extension to the house, nearly doubling it in size. A dominant four-storied tower, a new north wing, dining room, and servants' quarters all meshed seamlessly with the exterior's irregular shape. Merritt also commissioned Ferdinand Mangold to re-design the landscape and construct the nation's first steel-framed conservatory. The grounds of the Lyndhurst property are a particularly extraordinary example of nineteenth-century landscape, including rolling lawns, accented shrubs and specimen trees, and a long, winding entrance drive. It was Merritt who renamed the home "Lyndenhurst," after the linden trees planted throughout the property.

Jay Gould (1836-1892), railroad developer and owner of Western Union Telegraph, Union Pacific Railroad, and New York Elevated Railway, purchased the house in 1880. Gould used Lyndhurst, his shortened version of the name, as a summer home and country retreat until his death in 1892. His daughter Anna (1878-1961), Duchess of Talleyrand-Perigord, donated Lyndhurst to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961.

Walter D. Richards designed the 15-cent Lyndhurst stamp of the 1980 American Architecture Series. The stamps of this series were among the last American commemorative stamps produced on a Giori printing press.

Reference:

"A Short History of Lyndhurst." Lyndhurst. http://www.lyndhurst.org/history.html


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