Underappreciated Historic Sites in Westchester

By Jennifer LaGrippo

Westchester has a somewhat bad reputation.

The suburban county is too often associated with snobs and materialistic morals; a shallow misinterpretation.

What many fail to realize is that Westchester is filled with fascinating history and natural beauty.

Looking past what seems like an array of malls, bars, salons, and car dealerships, there is so much to admire.

One of the many historic sites in Westchester is located about ten minutes from our very own Dobbs Ferry campus, in Tarrytown. Washington Irving’s Sunnyside estate is where the famous author resided for many years.

Irving designed the estate himself in 1835. The landscape of the riverside estate is amazing, with views of natural art. Irving even planted a vine for the sole purpose of wrapping around the house for dramatic effect.

Irving drew inspiration from his surroundings with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle were the results. Tarrytown and its neighboring towns were settings for some of the most famous pieces of American literature.

Irving remained at his Sunnyside residence writing until his death in 1859, when he died of a heart attack in his bedroom.

Sunnyside is currently open for guests to visit with guided tours of the house. The staff guides at Sunnyside wear traditional clothing of the 1800’s as they bring tourists and locals around to each room of the estate. Many of the original furnishings remain on location and serve as rare historical treasures.

Irving is buried a town over in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. He lies at rest among other remarkable Americans like Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Elizabeth Arden, and William Rockefeller. The cemetery also offers tours.

A ten minute drive or bus ride from campus is well worth the visit to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside for an authentic experience of a mid-19th century American figure.