330 Morton Road, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Located south of Rhinecliff (which is below the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge) on Route 85, off of Route 9. It is located near the intersection of Mill Road and Morton Road.
Tour the mansion and walk around the grounds or down to Cove Point on Suckley Cove.
1852 -- Thomas Holy Suckley, wealthy export trade and real estate investor
and descendant of the Beekman and Livingston families, buys the property. At the
time the property was being used as a sheep meadow for the adjacent Wildercliff
Thomas Suckley and his wife Catherine Murray Bowne build an Italian villa mansion and name the estate "Wilderstein" (mock German for "wild man's stone") in reference to a nearby Indian petroglyph.
1888 -- son Robert Bowne Suckley and his wife, Elizabeth (Bessie) Philips Montgomery remodel and enlarge the original villa. (Poughkeepsie architect Arnout Cannon transforms it into a Queen Anne style country house.) The famous New York City decorator, Joseph Burr Tiffany, designs the interior. Calvert Vaux designs the landscape.
1891 -- Margaret Lynch Suckley, last family member to live in the house, born at Wilderstein. She later goes to college at Bryn Mawr for two years.
1912 -- Robert Suckley truly shaken at the news of the drowning of neighbor Jack Astor on the Titanic.
1921 -- Robert Suckley dies.
1930s and 40s -- Margaret serves as archivist for the FDR Library. She works with Franklin on his papers and often keeps him company at Hyde Park and in Washington. Sometimes he would come to Wilderstein for tea. (Philip, 2001:126)
He called her "Daisy." It was she who gave Roosevelt his famous Scottie dog named Fala who accompanied the President when he came to Wilderstein for tea. Fala sired two puppies born to Button (Heather of Wilderstein), Daisy's dog. The True Story of Fala, written by Margaret Suckley, described Fala's life as the presidential dog.
1945 -- Margaret was with FDR when he was fatally stricken at Warm Springs, Georgia.
1953 -- Elizabeth (Bessie) Suckley dies.
1983 -- Margaret donates the house and 35 acre grounds to Wilderstein Preservation, a not-for-profit corporation, but she reserves life occupancy.
1991 -- she dies in her 100th year.
Friends cleaning her cluttered bedroom found a suitcase with her diaries and the letters which she and Roosevelt exchanged. They have been edited Geoffrey C. Ward in his book Closest Companion.
There is no charge to walk the grounds and trails.
Calvert Vaux's planting map for 1891:
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut)
Aesculus sp. (dwarf horse chestnut)
Betula sp. (birch)
Cercis canadensis (redbud)
Cornus spp. (dogwood)
Fagus sp. (purple beech)
Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple)
Salix sp. (willow)
Tilia sp. (linden)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Berberis sp. (barberry)
Chaenomeles sp. (quinces)
Deutzia sp. (deutzia)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Philadelphus sp. (mock orange)
Pieris japonica (andromeda)
Spiraea sp. (spiraea)
Stewartia sp. (stuartia)
Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry)
Viburnum sp. (viburnum)