May 24, 2007
For Release: Immediate
Improvements Part of Ongoing Rehabilitation Project
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash today announced the re-opening of Olana State Historic Site in Hudson following extensive rehabilitation to the 19th Century home of artist Frederic Edwin Church.
"When visitors return to Olana this season, they will experience the scenic, natural surroundings and dramatic features of Frederic Church's residence which inspired his world-renowned paintings more than a century ago," said Ash. "The installation of new state-of-the-art equipment underscores the commitment of New York State to protect this remarkable historic landmark, and we look forward to once again showcasing the unique collections and extraordinary landscapes of one of our most important cultural resources."
The improvement project at Olana included installation of new fire suppression and climate control systems to provide better protection of the paintings, furnishings, tapestries and other valuable items in the collection. In the event of fire, the fire suppression system will emit a fine mist of water that will dampen the fire without drowning the collections. The climate control system will keep the house at a constant temperature, protecting the collections from major spikes in temperatures and fluctuating humidity that occur during the changes in season.
The house was closed for the 2006 season to accommodate the renovations. In addition to stabilizing the popular Court Hall stencils, curators and conservators took advantage of the opportunity to work on furnishing, upholstery, textiles and carpets. New wall to wall carpet was installed in the Court Hall, several chairs have been conserved with new upholstery applied, and velour draperies hung on the studio windows.
Future plans at Olana include the rebuilding of the wagon shed as a year round center for education; stabilization of the main barn for use as public exhibit space and activities; replacement of overhead utilities; and additional restroom facilities. In addition, improvements will be made to the carriage barn and visitor center next to the main house including painting, gutters and minor repairs.
Olana is the Persian-style home and picturesque landscape created by Frederic E. Church (1826-1900), one of the most renowned American artists of the Hudson River School. Construction of the stone, brick and polychromed, stenciled castle-like structure began in 1870 with the assistance of architect Calvert Vaux. Church designed his house both as a work of art and as a home for his family. The informal natural appearing landscaped grounds were also designed by the artist as a "living landscape" as he designed his works of art on canvas. Over a 40-year period, he transformed 250 acres of farm fields and wood lots into an artistic composition encompassing a lake, park, the grounds immediately surrounding the house, farm, an extensive road system, and sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River.
Olana remained in the Church family until 1964 when plans were made to sell the property at auction. Olana Preservation, formed by art historian David Huntington, purchased the property in 1966 with assistance from the State of New York and transformed it into a state historic site. Olana is today one of the only intact 19th-century home, studio and full estate in the United States.
Olana State Historic Site is a designated National Historic Landmark and one of the most visited sites in New York State. The Olana Partnership, a private-not-for-profit corporation, works cooperatively with New York State to support the restoration, development and improvement of Olana. For more information about the historic site and its programs, visit www.nysparks.com and www.olana.org or call 518-828-0135.