Merestead

September 6, 2020 – Mount Kisco, NY

Difficulty: Easy

Length: Approximately 3 miles

Max elevation: 720 ft. – total elevation gain: approximately 371 ft.

Route type: Circuit

Map: Merestead Trail Map

Trailhead parking: 455 Byram Lake Road, Mount Kisco, NY 10549

Restrooms: None available


Overview:

Merestead is a Westchester County park, that is located in the Town of Bedford and Mount Kisco. It is comprised of a Georgian Revival mansion, designed by Delano and Aldrich and built in 1907. There are twelve additional out buildings on the 130-acre property, including an historic farmhouse (1850), carriage house and barn. The estate grounds includes woodlands and rolling hills that overlook the surrounding valley.

Merestead

Merestead

Access to the trail system is located across the street from the main driveway to the property. Follow the signs to the parking lot. Their website states that the grounds and trails are open seven days a week, 8am to dusk. The sign below reads differently.

Merestead

Merestead


History:

Merestead, Scottish for farmland, is the former estate of William Sloane (1873-1922), who was President of the W&J Sloane Furniture Company and his daughter Margaret Sloane Patterson (1910-2000).

On December 6, 1905, William Sloane purchased the deeds to two pieces of property, the Joseph Sarles estate and the E.V. Weeks estate on Byram Lake Road in Mount Kisco to be his legal residence. Merestead was a country estate designed for a gracious, and elegant lifestyle. Built at a time when automobiles were replacing the horse.

It includes a neo-Georgian mansion completed in 1907. It was designed by Delano and Aldrich and is a ​2-1⁄2-story, rectangular mansion with open porches on the ends and a ​1-1⁄2-story service wing. Also on the 130-acre property are 12 other contributing buildings.

Merestead mansion - 1981

Merestead mansion – 1981

In 1967 and 1973, the Pattersons deeded portions of their original estate, including a parcel given to the Nature Conservancy and another which led to the creation of the nearby Marsh Sanctuary. 

In 1982, the Pattersons deeded the property to Westchester County for use as a park, and upon Mrs. Patterson’s death in August of 2000, Westchester took full possession of the property.

In 2019, The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved $2.05 million in funding to repair and preserve Merestead.

Merestead mansion - 2020

Merestead mansion – 2020

Merestead mansion - 2020

Merestead mansion – 2020

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.


Trails Overview:

The more than 3 miles of trails meander through woodlands, open fields and gardens that offer attractive scenery. Some of the trails are original to the property and were utilized by the Patterson family during the early part of the century and follow along old farm roads. Thanks to the efforts of park staff and the County’s Youth Conservation Corps, these old trails were rehabilitated and several new trails were developed during the summer of 2003.

Blue Trail - Merestead

Blue Trail – Merestead

Red Trail - Merestead

Red Trail – Merestead

Hill to Meadow Trail - Merestead

Hill to Meadow Trail – Merestead

Garden Trail - Merestead

Garden Trail – Merestead

Farm Road - Merestead

Farm Road – Merestead

Farm Road - Merestead

Farm Road – Merestead  

Highlights along the trails include bridges that are remnants of 100-year-old farm bridges, restored fieldstone root cellars, the masonry milk spring, the old pet cemetery, and two Chinese lantern statuaries that lead the way to a magnificent vista of the Hudson Highlands. With its high terrain and varying habitats, Merestead is also an ideal site for watching local resident birds and migrating species throughout the year.

root cellar - Merestead

root cellar – Merestead

old pet cemetery - Merestead

old pet cemetery – Merestead

Chinese lantern statuary - Merestead

Chinese lantern statuary – Merestead

Hudson Highlands view - Merestead

Hudson Highlands view – Merestead

The trails at Merestead connect to the adjacent Marsh Sanctuary and the Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary.


Buildings:

The estate buildings and the entire original estate lands have remained virtually unchanged since the early twentieth century. Below are some of the buildings that are listed National Register of Historic Places. 

  • Mansion, 1906-1907

The mansion is the centerpiece of the estate. It was designed in the neo-Georgian style by the noted architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich and was completed in 1907. It is currently undergoing renovations.

Merestead mansion – 2020

Merestead mansion – 2020

  • Garden House, circa 1907

A single story frame garden pavilion with a hipped roof is located a short distance south of the mansion at the opposite side of the croquet court. Surrounded by gardens and a small rectangular pool, it has engaged columns and a paneled wainscot.

Garden House - Merestead

Garden House – Merestead

  • Carriage House, circa 1907

South of the mansion on the south side of Byram Lake Road stands a single story carriage house. The structure consists of a rectangular block with two flanking, projecting pavilions at the main (north) facade. The building is sheathed in stucco and covered by a hipped, slate roof which has several dormers, a chimney, and a rooftop octagonal cupola with a dome. Door openings are located at the center of the north facade beneath a large semi-circular fanlight which projects above the eaves of the roof.

Carriage House - Merestead

Carriage House – Merestead

Carriage House - Merestead

Carriage House – Merestead

  • Garage, circa 1907

A modest, three-bay, hipped roof garage is located immediately west of the carriage house. It includes three segmentally arched openings at the main facade, each opening filled with a pair of wooden garage doors, glazed in the upper halves. The roof is covered with slate.

Garage - Merestead

Garage – Merestead

  • Tenant Farmhouse, mid-19th century

A two-story mid-nineteenth century frame farmhouse built prior to the development of Merestead is located southeast of the mansion on the north side of Byram Lake Road. It forms the nucleus of the extant farm complex purchased by William Sloane to augment his Merestead estate. Originally built as a simple, vernacular structure at an undetermined date, it was modified around 1907 by the addition of dormer windows and a central pediment with lunette in order to make the house more architecturally compatible with the new buildings erected on the estate. The house is rectangular in form and features a full width (five-bay) front porch, a small, two-story east side extension, and gable roofs. An entrance with sidelights occurs at the center of the first story on the main facade which is flanked by two-over-two windows with shutters. The structure is sheathed with clapboard siding.

Tenant Farmhouse - Merestead

Tenant Farmhouse – Merestead

  • Cow Barn, circa 1907

North of the tenant farmhouse stands a large frame cow barn with a jerkin head gable roof. The barn is constructed above a raised stone foundation with primary entry gained through sliding barn doors at the center of the east side. A ramp with stone retaining walls leads directly to this entrance from the farmyard. The walls of the barn above the foundation are sheathed in clapboard siding and the roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Octagonal ventilation cupolas rise at each end of the roof ridge, which is itself ventilated by a low, full-length monitor.

Cow Barn - Merestead

Cow Barn – Merestead

The design of Merestead is the product of Delano & Aldrich (William A. Delano 1874-1960, Chester Holmes Aldrich 1871-1940), a New York architectural partnership established in 1903.

Please note: There are more buildings and structures not listed or pictured here that may be of interest.


Review:

A very pleasant walk through the woods, fields and rolling hills of a once grand estate. The property can be traversed in several hours at a leisurely pace, taking in all it has to offer. The old buildings and root cellars make  the trek through the grounds worthwhile. A nice day trip for families.

Pros:

Historical features, scenic landscape, mansion.

Cons:

Ongoing construction around the mansion.

Take a hike!


Sources:


3 thoughts on “Merestead

  1. I maintain the trails at Merestead so was very interested to read your review which I thought excellent in both historical content and the detailed description of the buildings and the area. I’m glad you enjoyed your hike at Merestead. In case you didn’t know, while Merestead connects to Marsh, as you correctly pointed out, you can also go from Merestead to the Butler Sanctuary by means of a horse trail which my husband and I cleared. Thanks again for providing such comprehensive and edifying information about this small park.

    Liked by 1 person

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