There’s Nothing Like a Hudson River Gala to Get the Summer Started…

  |  May 31, 2016

Ferncliff Estate in Rhinebeck, NY

In 1903, John Jacob Astor added a lavish sporting pavilion, designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White, to the Ferncliff estate in Rhinebeck, NY. Tragically, John Jacob perished ten years later in the sinking of the Titanic. His son Vincent inherited the property, turned the ‘Casino’ into his residence, and built the “Tea House” where the former estate once stood.

Astor Tea House Exterior 4

Astor Tea House

Inspired by the Garden Pavilion at Versailles, the Tea House was constructed in 1948 as an architectural ‘folly’ – a place to take tea on the banks of the river. It included a central octagonal room in brick with arch-topped French doors and concrete pillars. Over time, the Tea House evolved into a private residence and was purchased by Robert Duffy in 2013.

Mr. Duffy, the co-founder and former president of fashion company Marc Jacobs, is also a collector and connoisseur of architecture and design, having renovated properties around the world. Since purchasing the Astor Tea House, he has carefully restored it with respect for its French-inspired design vernacular. The river view is once again visible, the stone walls that border the property have been repaired, historic paths through the grounds and gardens have been rediscovered and an octagonal pool house, reminiscent of the original Tea House design, now stands beside the new pool.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.28.10 PM

Astor Tea House Grounds

Mr. Duffy has offered his exquisite and historic home, the Astor Tea House, to the Winnakee Land Trust for a Gala Event to support its work.

Winnakee Land Trust is hosting its annual gala fundraiser on Saturday, June 4th from 7 to 11 pm under a tent at the historic Astor Tea House, this lovely and iconic private home off River Road in Rhinebeck overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. This elegant setting will play host to an evening featuring sunset cocktails, dinner and dancing to live music and a silent auction.


Winnakee’s annual Gala is a critical part of the Land Trust’s fundraising strategy. Every year since 2007, more than 200 supporters gather at iconic venues on in Northern Dutchess such as The Locusts, Rokeby and the Belvedere Mansion, with this year’s gala at the historic Astor Tea House. Time is short but you might consider attending. Not only will you be in the company of some of the most generous donors to a worthy cause, but you will have an opportunity to visit the grounds of this secluded, private, and historic property on the banks of the Hudson River.

For more info please see click here.


Winnakee Land Trust protects and preserves open spaces in the northern Dutchess County. From the base of operations in Rhinebeck, NY, the land trust works with landowners and municipalities to protect scenic views, farmland and natural resources and to establish trails and parklands. The Mid-Hudson region is under tremendous development pressure and Winnakee’s work in protecting communities’ unique character is more important than ever.

About Gregg Swanzey

Gregg Swanzey, a longtime advocate for the Hudson River and the Mid-Hudson Region, first moved to the Rondout neighborhood in Kingston with his family in 1986 fresh off several years as Captain of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Since then, he has crossed the Atlantic three times, served as Executive Director for a gubernatorially appointed Commission in Massachusetts, and traveled to far-flung places such as St. Petersburg, Russia; Reykjavik, Iceland; and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. After four years in City Hall as Director of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships for the City of Kingston, he has recently come aboard as Executive Director for the Winnakee Land Trust based in Rhinebeck in Northern Dutchess County. On any given day you might see him out jogging on one of several rail trails that converge in Kingston, kayaking the Hudson over to Rhinecliff, biking Uptown to the Farmer’s Market, climbing to the top of Burger Hill in Winnakee's Drayton Grant Park, or hanging out at home in a classic 1920's Dutch Colonial overlooking the Hudson with his wife, Emma. His two daughters live and work in New York City but are regularly up the River for the weekend.

Read more from Gregg Swanzey

Read On, Reader...