US 9, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY
Locust Grove is located on US Route 9 South between Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery and the Marriot Courtyard Inn. The entrance is directly across from Beechwood Avenue at the traffic light.
From the south, take US 9 north. Turn left at Beechwood Avenue light.
From the north, take US 9 south. Turn right at Beechwood Avenue light.
The grounds are open 8:00 am to dusk, weather permitting.
The house is open daily for walk-in tours and group tours (by appointment only), from May 1 to Thanksgiving, between 10 am and 3 pm. Garden Tours may be scheduled by appointment.
The Fee schedule (per person) is as follows:
Adults: $5.00; Seniors (age 65): $4.00; Individual with AAA Card: $4.00; Student (age 6-18): $2.00; Group Tour (10 or more): $4.00
1688 - James II of England granted Lt. Col. Phillip Schuyler a large patent whose boundaries encompassed the present Locust Grove estate.
1751- Henry Livingston purchased a portion of the former Schuyler patent and began to clear and farm the land.
1771 - Henry Livingston, Jr. purchased the farm from his father and settled there with his family, naming the estate "Locust Grove."
1791 - Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He was the son of Jedidiah Morse, a pastor who was as well known for his geography as Noah Webster, a friend of the family, was known for his dictionaries. He was educated at Yale College, an indifferent student, but he was interested in the subject of electricity and painting miniature portraits. He later studied painting in England.
1825 -- settles in New York City and becomes one of the most respected painters of his time. He was a founder and first president of the National Academy of Design.
1825 -- Morse's first wife, Lucretia, dies.
Morse was unsuccessful in his campaigns to become mayor of New York or a Congressman.
1830 - Two years after Henry Livingston Jr.'s death, his heirs sold his farm to John and Isabella Montgomery, a wealthy couple from New York City. The Montgomerys relocated farming operations to the lower grounds and built a new house (the core of the present house) on the bluff overlooking the Hudson River.
1832 -- while returning on the ship Sully from another period of art study in Europe, Morse heard a conversation about the newly discovered electromagnet and conceived of the idea of an electric telegraph. He mistakenly thought that the idea of such a telegraph was new.
1835 -- he probably had his first telegraph model working in the New York University building where he taught art.
1837 -- Morse acquired two partners to help him develop his telegraph. One was Leonard Gale, a quiet professor of science at New York University who advised him, for example, on how to increase voltage by increasing the number of turns around the electromagnet. The other was Alfred Vail, a morose young man who made available both his mechanical skills and his family's New Jersey iron works to help construct better telegraph models. (See the entry for Speedwell in Morristown, New Jersey, the New Jersey highlands, on this website.)
1837 -- Morse applies for a patent for his new telegraph.
1838 -- transmits ten words per minute at an exhibition of his telegraph in New York. Uses his Morse code. He later exhibits his telegraph before businessmen and committees of Congress, hoping to acquire his needed funds. He meets considerable skepticism that any message could really be sent from city to city over wire.
1843 -- Morse secures funds from Congress to construct the first telegraph line in the U. S. from Baltimore to Washington D.C.
1844 -- the first inter-city electromagnetic telegraph line in the world sends Morse's Biblical quotation message on the line to Baltimore: "What Hath God Wrought!" Morse becomes a hero.
1846 -- private companies, using Morse's patent, build telegraph lines from Washington reaching to Boston and Buffalo, and farther.
1847 -- Morse purchases the Locust Grove estate from the Montgomerys and moves to Poughkeepsie with his three children.
1848 -- Morse marries a second time, this time to his 26 year old cousin, Sarah Elizabeth Griswold, who was considerably deaf and dumb.
1851 - Samuel F. B. Morse works with well-known architect Alexander Jackson Davis to remodel and enlarge the Montgomery's house into an Italianate villa. Morse and Davis add two wings to the north and south, creating an octagon, as well as the porte-cochère and billiards room to the East, and the four-story tower structure facing west toward the river. For the rest of his life, Morse continued to alter and improve the landscape around his home. He also becomes a generous giver of funds to colleges, including Yale and Vassar, benevolent societies and poor artists.
1872 -- Morse dies in New York City at the age of 81. His family spends a few more years at Locust Grove but eventually moves away and rents the estate.
1896 - William and Martha Young, a wealthy Poughkeepsie couple with two children, rent Locust Grove as a summer home.
1901 - William Young purchases Locust Grove from Samuel Morse's heirs. The Youngs realize its historic importance and preserve it essentially as it had been in Morse's time. The Young family adds the large dining room wing at the north end, bringing the house to its present form.
1963 -- Locust Grove becomes the first estate in the valley to be designated a National Historic Landmark.
1975 - Annette Innis Young, William and Martha's daughter, dies after spending 80 of her 90 years living at Locust Grove. In her will, she establishes a trust to preserve the estate and its contents for the "education, visitation, and enlightenment of the public."
1979 - Locust Grove opens to the public, offering guided tours, lectures, and special events.
1998 - To better serve its rapidly growing audience, the Morse Historic Site begins construction of a new visitors' center.
Source: From the Locust Grove website: (http://www.morsehistoricsite.org/morse/morse.html
They in turn used: Mabee, Carleton. The American Leonardo, a Life of Samuel F. B. Morse.
small lake, coves, and wooded areas
There are over 3 miles of walking trails that lead to sunny coves along the river, a cool waterfall, and stands of oak, tulip, and locust trees that date to Morse's time. It is part of a greenbelt, including the Rural Cemetery and Springside.
The main house is surrounded by 150 acres containing shrubbery, trees and flowers. Nearby Springside, Vassar-founder Matthew Vassar's estate, was landscaped by Andrew Jackson Downing, whose ideas Morse tried to incorporate into Locust Grove.
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Carya spp. (hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus sp. (ash)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Pinus rigida (pitch pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Anemone sp. (anemone)
Aquilegia canadensis (columbine)
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Hepatica americana (round-leaved hepatica)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Viola pubescens (yellow forest violet)
Viola sororia (common blue violet)