Vision for The Point
- Widespread recognition that Calvert Vaux played a pivotal role in the development of Central Park and the American Picturesque movement that influenced development of parks, country estates and suburbs across 19th– and early 20th-century America;
- A fully restored Hoyt mansion with one or more resident partners compatible with historic interiors restored to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and willing to give CVPA access for regular public tours and special events;
- A restored landscape showing Vaux’s contributions to the development of American Picturesque design and accessible for regular tours;
- A restored barn complex with three or more compatible tenants including CVPA and Boston Architectural College (BAC) Field School that help support site operating costs;
- A CVPA organization with the capacity to manage and program the site and ensure sustainability for its restorations and building uses, as well as ongoing education about Calvert Vaux.
(Note: Both the Lydig and Blanche Livingston Hoyt family mansion and the overall site were historically known as The Point.)
Calvert Vaux biographer Francis Kowsky suggests that at The Point, Vaux worked out picturesque concepts he (Vaux) would use two years later in designing Central Park, where he played the under-recognized leadership role in the Park’s development. Marrying nature and architecture in the tradition of the English picturesque, Vaux ensured continued exploration and impact of ideas pursued by his partner Andrew Jackson Downing prior to that man’s untimely death in 1852. By bringing forward Downing’s work, Vaux played a foundational role in the development of the picturesque as America’s dominant aesthetic at Central Park, at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, in the American country estate and in the design of city parks and suburbs across the United States.
Christopher Nolan, Vice President for Landscape Design at Central Park Conservancy and New York City-appointed Park Manager for Central Park has noted,
Designed two years before architect Calvert Vaux persuaded Frederick Law Olmsted to partner with him on an entry to the competition for the design of New York City’s Central Park, Hoyt House and its promontory setting (known both individually and together as “The Point”), stand as a seminal example of the approach to picturesque design that Vaux, in partnership with Olmsted, would further develop and apply on a civic scale in Central Park. In this regard, the seeds for Central Park and for Vaux and Olmsted’s legacy – from the launching of the park movement, to the founding of the profession of landscape architecture, to the shaping of the American landscape for generations to come – were all planted at The Point.
The Point has languished unoccupied and deteriorating for more than half a century. Today the pace of deterioration is accelerating quickly. We recently stabilized a major feature, the South Portico, which was in imminent jeopardy of collapse, only to face immediately a new, threatening hole in the foundation. We are currently working to seal the building envelope against such compromises. We are also working to reopen the historic Hoyt Carriageway Bridge that provides access from The Point’s historic entry on Old Albany Post Road in Staatsburg. Consultant reports prepared in 2020 to document grant applications set the cost of restorations, site redevelopment and recruiting new tenants at more than $25 million. The Hudson Valley has many historic mansions and estates, and most of the uses for which The Point’s buildings could be redeployed could be realized with much less expensive renovations at other, less deteriorated properties. This makes it challenging to conceive a business model that will support such extensive restoration. We believe that the position held by both Vaux and The Point in the development of American Picturesque design and the opportunity to use the site to interpret Vaux’s role, gives the site, with its Vaux-designed Hoyt mansion and landscape, a unique value that can help make the extent of needed restoration feasible. Rather than depending on a single tenant or developer to cobble a business model capable of supporting the extensive restorations needed, Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance seeks a model with multiple tenants who have compatible missions who can help diversify funding sources for the project.