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“Day Hotel With Refreshments on the Beach!”

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden
Ranked #347 of 1,080 things to do in New York City
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Attraction details
Owner description: Constructed in 1799 as a carriage house and converted into a day hotel in 1826, the Museum transports visitors back to a 19th-century country resort for New Yorkers escaping the crowded city below 14th Street. Enjoy a guided tour of eight period rooms, browse in the gift shop, and linger in the secret garden.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
1,427 reviews
665 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 907 helpful votes
“Day Hotel With Refreshments on the Beach!”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 October 2013

I was watching an old PBS documentary on NYC when the movie showed a photo of “The Abigail Adams Smith House Museum”. The makers of the movie went on to specify that the Abigail in question was the daughter of President John Adams. Intrigued, I decided to investigate this further: I pride myself on knowing a lot about history, especially NYC history and architecture. Since I could not find a listing for it, I researched it on the Web and found that it is now called “Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden”. This interested me even further: I live only about a dozen blocks from this place, which was located on 61st between York and First Ave.

On I went without delay and soon was knocking on a white Federalist front door. It turned out that the Colonial Dames of America owned and operated this property, together with Van Cortland’s manor in the Bronx. To my delight, I discovered several docents waiting to give a tour and we proceeded promptly. The house has eight furnished rooms and very interesting history: built as a Carriage House in 1799, it was constructed on a track of land belonging to a certain Colonel William Stephens Smith who was married to Abigail Adams. That’s all the relation to the President. It was not even built by the Colonel, just on his land. And as for Mrs. Adams Smith, she never visited this place. That’s probably the reason it was renamed. Anyway, the Carriage House changed hands in 1926, one year after the opening of the Erie Canal and was converted into a Day Hotel. Being so far North in the country (the City only extended to 14th street at the time), it was used as a place for Day trips and relaxation. It could be reached by the Steamboat or the Stagecoach and people came to relax in the country, sip lemonade (ladies) and whiskey (gentlemen) and swim in the clean waters of the East River! It was just one of several Day hotels located in the country north of the City. It lasted as such for seven years, then changed hands several time, stayed in the same family for three generations and eventually fell in disrepair until the Colonial Dames of America acquired it.

The house is full with interesting objects, like a miniature French pipe organ, jewelry made of hair, some exposed wooden beams dating from the original construction, just think: that’s 214 years ago! The interpretive tour takes you through all the rooms complete with Fainting Beds (!) and Turtle Soup on the table in the Dining Room. Squeezed between giant neighbors today, the house once had nice view on the river and plenty of grass and flowers surrounding it. Nowadays the charming little garden is a strange anachronism in the hustle and bustle of York. An interesting painting shows the Hotel at the time it was functioning as such.
Our guide told us the painting was found in a neighborhood house and the owners gave it to the museum! The guide was eager to please and had certain knowledge of the house, but not much of history, regrettably. The admission is modest and worth it, tours are available at any time they are open (check their website for open days, I believe it’s 6 days a week). Unfortunately, photography is not allowed and this is strictly enforced. I later found out this was one of the eight oldest buildings in Manhattan.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank Oliver S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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36 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
1 review
“Not your average tour”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 October 2013

Very interesting. I learned so many interesting tid bits and fun facts about New York during the 1820s-1830s. The guides are very knowledgeable and encourage you to ask questions. Even better is that you can show up at your leisure and the guides will show you around. You don't need to make an appointment before hand, just arrive before 3:15pm. Highly recommend it.

Visited October 2013
Thank austw05
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
181 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Well, if you're in the neighbourhood... Just don't take any pictures!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 September 2013

Great little find in Mid Town but is a better find if you're in the area, coming off the Cable Car to FDR Island for instance. You'll need less than an hour to get round so can be fitted in. Not sure of the price as I went for free on an offer which always biases my view ;)

Guides are plentiful and well versed with one in every room but you will get politely asked not to take photos as I did several times, sorry ladies.

Nice little piece of history with gardens settled in the middle of the concrete and glass. Gives you a great idea of life when the city stopped as far north as 14th St.

Worth a look.. Twee.

Visited September 2013
Thank Vegas_Fisherman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
27 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Good things come in small packages”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 September 2013

This is a small, 8 room museum. Originally a barn that was converted into a day hotel around 1826, the building is fully furnished as it may have been for travelers fleeing lower Manhattan to go north to the "country" for the day. I arrived at 11 AM, opening time, and a knowledgeable docent, Tina, immediately offered me a tour. Tours normally run 1 hour but since I was the only participant and able to ask many questions with no rushing, my tour lasted 1 1/2 hours. The tour starts with a 13 minute movie which describes the political and social atmosphere in the early 1800's and then talks about the original estate owners and the hotel. Following this, I viewed a large scale model depicting the location of estates and hotels along the Old Post Rd (which still exists in Connecticut and Massachusetts although no longer in New York). From here we toured each room. Although furniture is not original to the hotel, it is indicative of the period. Tina did a wonderful job of describing objects and furniture in the rooms as well as answering all of my questions. Her enthusiasm and knowledge were refreshing. The garden is small and not reflective of what existed in 1826. Admission to Mt. Vernon is relatively cheap: $7 - $8. There is a small gift shop which my schedule didn't provide time to explore. If you want something interesting to do/see prior to a matinee and have an interest in NY's history, this is a good choice.

Visited September 2013
Thank NJWanders
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East Haven, CT
Level Contributor
20 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“A bit of 18th century history in midtown”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 March 2013

This is a fascinating building - an 18th century carriage house on a small plot of land among skyscrapers and highrises. It was quite charming, incongruous and completely unexpected. While I wish our docent was more thorough and forthcoming in her knowledge of the period, she knew much about the building itself and the fact that it was used as a day spa for middle class people who lived below 14th Street and considered this area "the country". She did point out interesting paintings of the 23 acres that Abigail Adams and her husband owned in 1799.

Visited March 2013
Thank Coco S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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