Wednesday, August 21, 1996


Notes on Clermont, the Livingston's mansion

The Hudson River Valley is a whole world of American pre- and post-revolutionary American history. Towards Albany, it is made up of the original Dutch grants to Killiam van Rensellaer, encompassing 500,000 acres of the present Rensellaer and Columbia Counties, an some 160,000 acres granted to Lord Livingston by Queen Anne in 17xx, in Columbia and Dutchess Counties.

The Livingstons, seven generations of them (1728-1962) have the Clermont historic site in Germantown to attest to their presence. The 13,000 acres were inherited by Robert R. Livingston (1688-1755) from the founder Robert (1654-1728), the first Lord of the Manor, who had 10 children and property beyond the original grant from the dowry in marrying a Rensellaer, xxx. The founder orifinally aquired the grant by buying two 100acre properties from the Indians, then asked the Crown for a grant for the above, plus the lands "connecting them." His son, the Judge of the Admiralty and Supreme courts of the Province, Robert R. Livingston (1718-1775) married Margaret Beekman and added her heritage, immense acreage in Dutchess and Ulster Counties, to the estate. their son the famous Chancellor (highest legal officer of the state) R.R.Livingston (1746-1813), was one of the five drafters of the Declaration of Independence, the first US Minister of Foreigh Affairs (Secretary of State), swore in President Washington in 1889, and was President Jefferson's Minister to France (1801-1804), where he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of this country.

The British burned down the original Georgian family home, Clermont ("clear mountain"), built and enlarged between 1730 and 1750. His mother Margaret Beekman Livingston, lived through the British arson of the familt home, rebuilt it in 1779-1782 and created the gardens,

Chancellor Livingston built a nwe elaborate mansion, which burnt down in 1909, and developed Clermont as an agricultural showplace, experimenting in breeding sheep and increasing crop yields. He was Robert Fulton's partner in developing the steamboat Clermont, which revolutionized navigation.

The Chancellor willed Clermont estae to his elder daughter. Her son????
Edward P. Livingston (1779-1843) expanded the gardens,in the 1820s.The wife of the last heir John Henry Livingston (1848-1927) who remodeled the old house as a Colonial revival, Alice Delafield Clarkson L. (died 1964), added four formal gardens, the South Spring Garden in 1909 (now ground cover and flowering shrubs), the Italianate Walled Garden, influenced by the family's Florentine gardens (1923-26), has spruce and mixed borders of perennials, dotted with statuary and wrought iron gates. The English Wilderness Garden intersected by a stream, has a pond. Her Cutting (Upper) garden on the site of the estate's old vegetable garden, with irises, peonies and rosebushes, is adjoined by a playhouse, a greenhouse and a potting shed, now in need of restoration.

In 1962 the state acquired by deed most of Clermont from Alice Livingston and restoration of the gardens on the 485 acre historic site began. Daughter Honoria Livingston McVitty gave 71 acres more in 1991. Clermont was declaed a US National Historic Landmark in 1973.

Stuart's Washington, the dashing Jax by Sully(what?)

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