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“Every Art Lover Should See The Thomas Cole Site”

Thomas Cole National Historic Site
Ranked #1 of 10 things to do in Catskill
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Thomas Cole (1801-1848) founded the Hudson River School as one of America's premier landscape painters. Cedar Grove, his home in the historic Catskill region, was named a National Historic Site in 1999 and is open to the public today. Visitors can tour the grounds, see rotating exhibitions of Hudson River School art, and learn about the life of Thomas Cole.
Reviewed 10 July 2014

If you are interested in American art, you have to see Cedar Grove.

After years of being ignored or dismissed, the remarkable achievements of Thomas Cole as the originator of America's first art movement are finally being recognized. An artist of tremendous energy and vision, he packed far more than a lifetime of painting into his 48 short years. Many of those years were spent living and painting at Cedar Grove in Catskill, NY. His home Cedar Grove, with a commanding view of the Catskill Mts. he loved, provides instructive clues to his thinking and his creative process. This originals studiio complete with easels and painting equipment is resorded to its original state.

As a professional landscape painter myself, I learned a lot from the guided tour of the home and studio. The grounds and settting are absolutely lovely. It's a must see.

Phiilip Koch, Professor of Fine Art
Maryland Institute College of Art

2  Thank Philip K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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104 - 108 of 130 reviews

Reviewed 10 July 2014

There's something very special about the place where America's first art movement was born -- thanks in great part to a thoughtful restoration that's underway. I like to take friends and family (my four nieces in particular) here when they are in town. With each visit there's a noticeable improvement, but through it all the setting and the views can be as inspiring as they are serene.

If possible, go when you can catch one of their on-going lectures ---- or join a hike to tour scenes made famous by Thomas Cole nearly 200 years ago (which are in amazingly in tact today!).

1  Thank TMWUSA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 July 2014

Thomas Cole's home in Catskill is a central place in America's first art movement. It was one of the country's earliest national historic landmarks, and has developed into a vibrant part of the local art community. I love to stand on the porch from which Cole, Church and other great American artists gazed on the Catskills. There is even a Claude looking glass on the porch--to frame the view as the 19th century landscape painters did! This place gets better with each passiing year, and is a must-see part of the Hudson Valley cultural landscape.

1  Thank Dotinhudson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2014

Having, several years ago, greatly enjoyed Olana, the home of Frederick Church, we were eager to see the home of his mentor and the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting, Thomas Cole. We were disappointed. If you can only get to one of these homes, do, please, treat yourself to Olana.

While the photos on the publicity for the site make it appear an idyllic setting, it sits in a tight little lot, surrounded by noisy streets and private residences. While it is the space he lived in, it is far from an accurate depiction of his living. Floors once covered with the patterned and colored 18th century equivalent of wall-to-wall carpet are instead coated with a thick layer of 20th century enamel; walls once papered with the bold, patterned paper of the day (and Cole’s father was a wall paper designer!) are painted bland, dull modern colors. The sense is that one is in the house of a pauper, not the home of a respected, renowned artist, wealthy for his day. One is in the space, but not the true milieu, of the artist. It is a pity they have not completed more true restoration.

Ticket information states that tour groups are limited to 12 due to the size of the rooms. My husband and I had our tickets early for the 10 AM tour, and a second couple arrived after us. Shortly before the tour start time a group of 13 young art students and their teachers arrived. It appeared they had been expected, and were quickly added on to our tour. Not only did it make for cramped squeezing in rooms, all the students came armed with phones or I-pads and an eagerness to photograph everything in site, making for lots of standing around unable to look closely at art or objects whilst students crowded in to get their shot. Since the tour guide forgot to review house rules before entering, we had to endure repeated reminders to turn off flash equipment, silence clicking noises, etc. Better planning to schedule a special tour solely for the students might have made it a more enjoyable experience for all.

Do visit to stand on the porch and see the view painted several times over by Cole those many years ago, but you might skip the tour and move on to the nearby sites he once painted.

3  Thank Wombat27_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Betsy218, Owner at Thomas Cole National Historic Site, responded to this reviewResponded 10 July 2014

We were so very disturbed to see that your experience was not as expected. Thank you for letting us know so that we can work to improve our operation. Just this year we started allowing photography inside, due to popular demand. However, with any new policy there will be kinks to work out. I checked with the tour guide from that day and she confirmed that she had never seen so much enthusiastic photography on a tour! We are so sorry that this interfered with your enjoyment. Regarding the decor of the house, you are absolutely correct that the original carpets and wallpapers are not yet restored. We are a work in process and each year we restore more areas of the historic site. At this very moment, we are about to put the finishing touches on our "Furnishings and Finishes Plan", the result of over four years of research. In the coming years, you will see room after room transformed by meticulously recreated carpets and wallpapers from Cole's era. It will be very exciting. In the mean time, we have filled the rooms with Thomas Cole's paintings, which has been a frequent request from our visitors in past years. We find that most visitors are so entranced by the paintings that they do not notice the lack of wallpaper. Thanks again for your feedback.

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Reviewed 5 May 2014

Called Cedar Grove, this place has a special feel. The house itself was interesting but the studio has a palpable feel of history. The views from the front porch still show fabulous views of the mountains and the valley.
There are 2 pictures on the front porch that Thomas painted years apart that highlight how he saw the "progress" of a nation with the railroad coming through & too many trees being cleared. Imagine if he saw it today; although there is still a lot of the great view. U just look above the development and can still see pristine . His former 200 acres is now only 5. The house is a great glimpse into his life, many of the objects in the house are from the Cole family and others are true tot he period. Then u get to spend time in the gallery, small room but loaded with paintings. There is an interesting 15 minutes film on Thomas' life. A true pioneer in the arts who died way too young. They are rebuilding the "new studio" in the same footprint as the original and will soon open the 3rd floor. This is a special spot indeed.

Thank SFLollyPopCouple
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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