Millbrook Country House
Table Of Contents
A distinctive Hudson Valley destination only ninety miles north of New York City, Millbrook Country House epitomizes a style of country living that is at once sophisticated and relaxed. The gracious grounds, gardens, and c. 1808 house, with four guest rooms, are ideally situated for full enjoyment of Millbrook’s cultural and sporting scenes.
Nearby are the beautiful gardens at Innisfree and Wethersfield, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Poughkeepsie’s historic Bardavon opera house, the Culinary Institute of America, Vassar College, Millbrook and Hotchkiss schools, stunning horse farms, Mashomack Polo Club, Tamarack Preserve, and the shooting and fly-fishing schools at Orvis-Sandanona. Within easy reach are the Hudson’s many historic stately houses, Bard College, DIA Beacon, Storm King, and, in summer, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at Boscobel.
At Millbrook Country House, where an American Colonial classic meets the interior embellishments of 18th-century Italy, you will be welcomed as a discerning guest whose comfort and enjoyment are always our primary concerns.
Meals & Services
Breakfast and Teatime
Included in each night's stay are an excellent multicourse breakfast and afternoon tea, both prepared by your hosts. (Giancarlo’s food credentials come from a lifetime of eating very well in Emilia-Romagna; Lorraine’s from her years as an editor at Gourmet magazine.) Breakfast is served anytime between 7 and 10am in our dining room, and tea between 4 and 5pm in our parlors; in fine weather both are often served outdoors in our gardens.
You’ll find no stodgy store-bought muffins or commercial cereals at Millbrook Country House. Breakfasts are prepared each morning by your hosts and typically include a light beginning of seasonal fruits--perhaps poached pears with a glaze of lemon syrup in winter, fresh berries gratin in summer.
This might be followed by individual herb omelets (the herbs from our garden, the eggs from a local farm) and cream scones or a warming challah bread pudding with caramel whiskey sauce. Whatever the morning’s menu, a selection of fine-quality loose teas and Giancarlo’s own blend of coffee (an American roast for flavor, Italian for structure) flow as freely as the congenial conversation among guests.
Millbrook Country House enjoys a particularly pretty position on the grounds of the former Philip Hart estate. Behind our circa 1808 house are flower and sculpture gardens and a level expanse of lawn that make an ideal venue for small, select gatherings.
For MCH guests (only) who would like to host outdoors events such as:
- Garden parties
- Cocktail receptions
- Graduation picnics
- Wedding breakfasts or luncheons
- Anniversary / birthday luncheons or dinners
- Wine tastings
We can offer our private garden as well as provide a short list of top-quality Millbrook - area caterers who would consult with you on every aspect of your plan, from menu to tent and table-settings.
In keeping with the quiet intimacy of MCH, invited guests for such garden gatherings cannot exceed 30. For more information, please contact us!
On Fridays, a three-course prix-fixe dinner, with aperitif and digestif, is offered for $45 per person. This should be arranged for at least three days in advance.
Menus are determined by seasonal availabilities and the culinary inspiration of your hosts, though medical dietary requirements are respected. We are also happy to recommend reliable local restaurants and make your reservations when desired.
MCH takes care in assuring a high standard of twice-daily housekeeping, including turn-down service at night, so that guests find their rooms restful and welcoming whenever they return to them.
We believe that life’s normal stresses are best relieved, and comfort encouraged, in surroundings that are both beautiful and harmonious.
Should you desire help in planning explorations of this lovely area, MCH has numerous books on such subjects as the Hudson's stately houses, DIA Beacon, Storm King sculpture garden, and Millbrook's own Innisfree. In addition we can help arrange for guided tours of various venues, including the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, set you off on nearby walking or hiking trails, or provide maps of favorite drives along the country lanes that connect Millbrook's many horse farms.
Grounds & Gardens
Millbrook Country House is set in 1.25 parklike acres on the edge of the village. From the road, a high painted fence and the entry through it, flanked by carriage lights, are almost all one sees. Inside, the house looks over broad sweeps of lawn dotted with many mature trees, hemlocks, a massive maple, locusts, concolor firs, and a Norway spruce planted in the 1880s.
The landscape is lent color variety in spring by an ornamental cherry, forsythias, lilacs, and crab apples; in fall, by the brillant foliage of silver and sugar maples.
Set well away from the house, garden furniture arranged under two venerable maples ensures an extra measure of privacy for conversation, reading, and the close study of squirrels vying with birds at several feeders. Also on the rear lawn are benches from Villa Benassi and a stunning sculpture by Woodstock artist Anthony Krauss.
Nearer the back of the house is a picket-fenced flower and herb garden where guests love to wander. Here, in turn, daffodils, phlox, daisies, and lilies bloom alongside peonies, monkshood, and meadow rue. Tarragon, basil, rosemary, and other herbs for the kitchen occupy the central plot, and large terra-cotta jars from Tuscany anchor the garden's paths. Throughout typically mild summers, when dawdling becomes a prime activity, nasturtiums trail over the fence posts and morning glories, honeysuckle, and clematis climb a twig canopy set over a mahogany bench designed by Jennifer Stengle. (A graduate of Cornell's landscape architecture program, Jennifer also designed the original garden.)
Against the rear facade of the house, summer- and fall-blooming clematis grow on trellises, while ivy and impatiens spill from kitchen windowboxes. Beds of annuals are planted near the brick patio, where breakfasts are served in fine weather (and hovering hummingbirds and monarch butterflies. As temperatures dip, long-blooming star anemones, autumn joy sedum, and ornamental grasses fill out the final the growing season.
Anthony Krauss, a resident of Woodstock, New York, has been working for years in a highly personal style to create large installations combining woods, steel, and tinted Plexiglas. His innovative use of geometric forms, especially diagonal elements, results in exciting kinetic illusions, and his reflective surfaces mirror the changing seasons and ambient movement. (Early morning and sunset in our garden can be a veritable light show.) In 2001 Anthony received the Lorenzo de’ Medici prize at Florence’s international biennial show of contemporary art, only one of many accolades he has received throughout his career. He is a great believer in bringing young people into intimate contact with sculpture, has worked with elementary school children on special outdoors projects, taught at colleges and universities worldwide, and is collected by numerous individuals, corporations, and museums, from New York to India and Japan.
Parking is entirely on site, most of it at the end of the long gravel drive that curves around to the rear, where dry walls and stone paths lead up to the gardens.
Visitors and residents alike associate Millbrook with the charms of another age. It's a village to explore on foot, whether discovering its excellent small shops and restaurants or merely ambling along its tree-lined main street, with Tribute Garden at one end and the village green and band shell at the other.
Millbrook's high natural setting affords fine distant views as well as meandering closeups of its many stunning horse farms, which lend the area a particular beauty. July's Fitch's Corner Horse Trials and August's Millbrook Horse Trials - both featuring dressage, cross-country, and stadium jumping competitions as well as the Second Career Thoroughbred Program - have become emblematic of the horse culture here.
Millbrook is near a number of distinguished private secondary schools, beginning with its own Millbrook Prep School, which boasts its LEED-certified (for green design) Math & Science Center, performing and visual arts facility, and the Trevor Zoo, dedicated to endangered species.
Also nearby are Kildonan and Maplebrook schools in Amenia and Trinity Pawling School in Pawling, while The Hotchkiss School, Salisbury School, Indian Mountain School, and Kent School are only 30 to 45 minutes away in western Connecticut.
At the university level, nearby Vassar, Marist, and Bard colleges are important cultural resources for the entire Hudson Valley region. Vassar's Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and Powerhouse Theater are vital, active venues. Bard's Conservatory of Music makes possible year-round concerts and recitals, and the annual SummerScape of dance, opera, and orchestral music takes place at the school's Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank O. Gehry and inaugurated in May, 2003. Its Center for Curatorial Studies / Hessel Museum is another of Bard's important resources.
Millbrook is a renowned center for environmental inquiry. Rockefeller University's 1,200-acre field study campus is devoted to research in ethology and ecology (on subjects as diverse as the echolocation of bats and the breeding of songbirds). The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies brings together eminent scientists and students to form one of the largest ecological research programs in the world, addressing such problems as the quantity and quality of freshwater resources and the health of forests. Set aside within the institute's nearly 2,000 acres are several public hiking trails. Cary also offers the community a popular series of lectures, documentaries, and panel discussions covering many environmental issues.
Two very beautiful gardens on a grand scale anchor Millbrook: Wethersfield to the east and Innisfree to the west. The former, created on ten acres in the 1940s and 1950s from the dairy farm of philanthropist and environmentalist Chauncey Stillman (1907-89), is modeled on the formal Italian prototype. Once the private garden of Walter and Marion Beck, was designed in adherence to the precepts of an 8th-century Chinese painter, poet, and landscape designer. Both are havens of peace and beauty.
Three miles up Valley Farm Road from MCH is Millbrook Vineyards & Winery. The winery is on high ground, looking over its vines and, in the distance, the hills of the Hudson's western bank. Winemaker John Gaziano produces 10,000-12,000 bottles of Chardonary, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Tocai Friulano a year. The winery hosts musical events and art shows throughout the year, and is much in demand for wedding receptions.
For the sports-minded, the 400-acre Orvis Sandanona complex is a premiere venue for sporting-clays shooting and fly-fishing. Sandanona's Shooting School is open January-December. With two private ponds and a trout stream on the grounds, the Fly-Fishing School offers classes March-September.
Farther afield but still easily accessible from MCH are many historic and art-oriented sites:
To the South
The 500-acre sculpture park of Storm King. The Dia art center at Beacon. Rising from a 1920s printing factory, its 240,000 square feet of skylit exhibition space contain an important collection of large-scale contemporary sculptures and paintings, including many Warhols, from America and abroad.
Boscobel, a fine Federal house meticulously restored under the supervision of Berry Tracy when he was curator of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The period furnishings, including pieces by Duncan Phyfe, are prime examples of the artistry of New York cabinetmakers.
Outside are an apple orchard, formal rose garden, and views across the Hudson to West Point. In summer Boscobel is home to the highly regarded Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.
Millbrook is 8 miles from the Dover Plains railway station on the Harlem Line and 15 miles from the Pougkeepsie station (designed by the same firm responsible for New York’s glorious Grand Central Station) on the Hudson Line. Both trips are scenic and easy, and both lines arrive at and depart from Grand Central, in the heart of midtown. Please consult Metro-North for schedules and fares.
The toll-free Taconic State Parkway is only a few miles to the west of Millbrook, and the trip south to New York is scenic, on a road in good condition. The Taconic is a landmark byway that was built in the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s WPA program for infrastructure improvements, putting people back to work after the Depression. The speed limit is a strictly enforced 55 miles per hour, and at certain times of the year, drivers must be keenly aware of the local wildlife that can roam near and onto the road.
If you wish to travel directly into Manhattan, we recommend the inexpensive and carefree option of the train, described above.
To the North and West
The Hudson's pride of great stately houses, along the river's eastern bank. They include FDR's Springwood and Eleanor Roosevelt's Val-Kill; the Vanderbilt Mansion; Mills Mansion; Montgomery Place; Wilderstein; and Olana, home of Hudson Valley landscape painter Frederic Church, among others.
Vassar, Marist, and Bard colleges (see above) as well as the Culinary Institute of America and its complex of restaurants.
To the North and East
The many horse farms that have become synonymous with Millbrook and create a landscape of particular beauty. Private hunting clubs such as Mashomack Preserve at Pine Plains, where summertime polo matches also take place, and Tamarack Preserve near Amenia. World-class music, at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony near Lenox, MA; and at Music Mountain, renown for its weekend chamber series, in Falls Village, CT.
ParlorsEach of the downstairs parlors-one more formal, the other more clublike-has a working fireplace, original wideboard pine floors, and many original windowpanes gleaming from within period plaster mouldings. Obvious places to settle in for conversation, a quiet read, or that first cup of morning coffee, the parlors bring a mix of decorative elements-hand-woven silks, 17th-century art, oriental rugs, and modern leather couches by Frau-as well as people together.Guests may play a selection of cd's, from jazz or opera, on our Bose music system, and the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in both rooms are filled with history, travel, wine, and art books, as well as fiction, in several languages.
The closest New York State airports serving Dutchess County are Stewart International Airfield in Newburgh (about an hour away to the southwest), Albany's airport (1.5 hours' distance northward), and New York's LaGuardia and Kennedy airports (about 2 hours, in normal traffic, to the south).
By Train from NYC
Two Metro-North railway lines serve the Millbrook area (Poughkeepsie station) out of New York's Grand Central Station. If you take the Hudson Line, offering views of the river most of the journey up, you will get off at Poughkeepsie, 15 miles to Millbrook's west. Reasonable rental cars are available at Rent-a-Wreck, which will do its best to meet your train if requested in advance. The Harlem Line, which skirts along the CT border, will bring you to either Dover Plains or Wassaic (the last stop on this line). Dover Plains is 8 miles from Millbrook; Wassaic is closer to 10. Round-trip tickets on either line are $20 - $25, depending on time of day and age of traveler. Metro-North tickets may be used for both the Hudson and Harlem Lines.
From the North
Take the Taconic State Parkway south to the Poughkeepsie-Millbrook exit. Bear left at the fork in the ramp and merge onto US-44. Continue on Route 44, turning left, until you see a high wooden fence on your right and a sign for Millbrook Winery. This is our verge, and farther along on the right are our sign and entrance, at #3244. Across from our driveway entrance Valley Farm Rd. comes into US-44, so if you pass this road sign you were looking the wrong way and have gone past us!
From the South
Take the Taconic State Parkway north to the Poughkeepsie-Millbrook exit. Bear right at the fork in the ramp and merge onto US-44. Continue about 4 miles, including a sharp left, until you pass Orvis-Sandanona and eventually, on your right, see a high wooden fence and a sign for Millbrook Winery. This is our verge, and farther along on the right are our sign and entrance, at #3244. Across from our driveway entrance Valley Farm Rd. comes into US-44, so if you pass this road sign you were looking the wrong way and have gone past us!
From Sharon, which is 15 miles northeast of Millbrook, take US-343 to Amenia; the continuation of this road is US-44. Follow this all the way to MCH (do not turn into the village proper at the stone gatehouse, but just continue to #3244, on your left. We're the colonial house behind a high wooden fence, and our driveway entry is almost directly across from where Valley Farm Rd. abuts US-44.
Take US-44 going east, passing through Pleasant Valley, continuing under the Taconic overpass, and eventually turning a sharp left, still on US-44. After passing Orvis-Sandanona, go another mile or so and you'll see our high wooden fence, our oval sign, and our entrance at #3244.