This week I ventured back to the Gothic vampire days of “Dark Shadows” thanks to some paranormal tweeps in Twitterdom. It was a TV show I had not thought about in too many years but it was always a favorite. The vampires of Dark Shadows were not the pretty boy variety of today’s “Twilight” generation. Instead they were the dark, sordid kind who lived in real gothic mansions which had mysterious rooms and parallel universes. Dark Shadows offered a trip into another dimension on a two-dimensional screen.
Much of the popular, dark soap opera was filmed in and around New York City and one such location brings us to a Frugal Friday day trip just outside of New York in Tarrytown. Lyndhurst, on the banks of the beautiful Hudson River, was the location for many of the exterior shots used on Dark Shadows in the late 1960s. Lyndhurst is one of the last, great American mansions built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture and therefore the perfect location for tales of gothic vampires and assorted other freaks.
The mansion was built in 1838 by architect Andrew Jackson Davis for former New York City Mayor William Paulding. The house was named “The Knoll” by its first occupant but many folks of the day called it “Paulding’s Folly” because its fanciful turrets and asymmetrical outline were unlike most homes constructed at that time. They thought Paulding really had bats in his belfry for building such a strange home. Yet, fascination with the mansion continued for decades and the structure was eventually doubled in size and served as home to New York merchant George Merritt and railroad Tycoon Jay Gould before being turned over to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Today, you can wander the 67-acre estate, tour the mansion and host a catered affair in the newly constructed carriage house. When I was young I was fascinated by one of the upper bedrooms which had the most beautiful gold-leaf stars painted on a blue sky for its ceiling. Then there was the parlor which offered magnificent places to daydream, leading to the outdoor patio. The mansion also boasted a separate bowling alley and recreation building, which has now been restored and is open to the public.
Lyndhurst is definitely worth a wander outside of the Big Apple and is but one of the gems offered in the historic Hudson Valley of 19th and 20th century mansions.