Olana State Historic Site is an artists' home-, studio- and estate and a designated landmark in the Hudson Valley. Once the home of artist Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), one of the major figures in the Hudson River School of landscape painting, the estate is one of the few remaining properties still standing and is open to the public. Named after a fortress-treasure house in ancient Greater Persia and boasting beautiful views of the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding mountains, including the Taconic Range and the Catskill Mountains, the Olana estate features an eclectic villa at its center, designed and built in a variety of styles.
Owned and operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the main building of Olana was designed by renowned architect Calvert Vaux and is an architectural masterpiece with a unique blend of Persian, Moorish and Victorian styles. Built from stone and brick, the house rests on the top of a long slope overlooking the valley and consists of asymmetrical towers and block masonry punctuated by whimsical windows and porches. The exteriors feature Middle Eastern motifs in colored wood, brick, slate, and ceramic tiles, as well as beautiful stenciling, while the interiors of the house are intricately stenciled inside and out. The house features exotic furnishings, paintings, and objects gathered by Frederic Church on his many travels. The villa also features the last studios where Church worked, which were added to the villa between 1888 to 1890.
The villa at the Olana State Historic Site is home to an inspiring collection of furnishings, paintings, sculptures acquired by Frederic and Isabel Church, which was described as being “a museum of fine arts, rich in bronzes, paintings, sculptures and antique and artistic specimens from all over the world.” In addition to the artworks, the house is a work of art in itself with elegant interiors filled with interesting objects collected from around the world and falling into the genre of the early Aesthetic Movement. The collection includes dozens of carpets from all over the Middle East, two beautiful tiled fireplaces by 19th-century Persian ceramist, Ali Mohammed Isfahani, old master paintings, artifacts from Pre-Columbian civilizations, and the family’s original library, including a colorful collection of Mexican folk art and sombreros and fine china. These objects and others can be viewed in the studios attached to the main house.
Olana is surrounded by 250 acres of beautiful natural landscapes, which are viewed as one of Frederic Church’s great works of art. His large-scale horticultural cosmopolitan consists of rolling meadows, farm outbuildings, an ornamental farm and an artificial lake, dense woodlands and a network of carriage roads.
The Olana Partnership offers a variety of educational programs, authentic learning experiences, and community initiatives for all ages with the aim of inspiring the conservation and preservation of Olana’s picturesque site. Programs for schools and students include Land as a Canvas: Voices from the Land (PreK-1st Graders); The Art of 2-D to 3-D and Back Again: Art, Land, and Architecture (K-5); Islamic Design: Persian Influence and Geometry at Olana (4th-8th Graders); From Sketch to Study to Painting: Studying Frederic Church’s Method from Air to Studio (3rd Grade – High School); Transcendentalist Philosophy & Olana: Odes to Nature and Nature Writing (Grades 9-12); and Wayfinding Story at Olana: Mapping a New History with Artistic & Digital Platforms (Grades 9-12). The Olana Partnership also offers after-school programs and Saturday programs specifically designed for after school groups, civic organizations, and special interest clubs, including Girl Scouts of the USA & Boy Scouts of America, as well as high school art clubs.
Olana State Historic Site is located at 5720 State Route 9G in Hudson and is open for pre-booked tours on the weekends from Friday to Sunday. Admission to the house is by guided tour only, and types of trips include tours of the Main Floor and the Studio Wing (45-60 minutes), Historic Landscape Tours (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Guided and Self-Guided Driving Tours Guided Walking Tours.
5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534, Phone: 518-828-0135, website