The Grand Opening!

On Sunday May 1, the grand opening and official ribbon-cutting for the New Studio took place at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Pictured here, left to right: Anne Miller, Chairman of the Capital Campaign Committee; Lisa Fox Martin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, George Amadore, State Senator; Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director; and John Mesick, Architect.

Betsy JacksThe Grand Opening!

The Hudson River School Art Trail connects you with the places in nature that Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School artists made famous in their 19th-century landscape paintings. Cole founded this nation’s first major art movement, now known as the Hudson River School, and advocated for the preservation of the American landscape as a national treasure.

Today, you can visit these magnificent views thanks to extensive preservation efforts.

The Hudson River School Art Trail is a program of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in partnership Olana, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.



Guided Art Trail Experiences are offered seasonally. Check back in 2020 for more information.

What to Expect on Guided Art Trail Experiences:

Please note that the hikes range in difficulty. We suggest that you read each description carefully and choose accordingly. Below you will find links to the information you need for both the paddling and the hiking trips.

Click here for information about what to bring and wear on a hike.

Click here for information about what to bring and wear on a paddle.

All hikes are dog friendly – Please keep your dog on a leash at all times. No dogs allowed on the paddle.

 Paddle includes life vests for adults; children’s life vests are limited. Contact Catskill Mountain Wild for info.

Some hikes are kid friendly; contact Catskill Mountain Wild for info.

ALL participants must complete THIS WAIVER and bring it with them on the day of the hike.

Hikers can contact Catskill Mountain Wild with questions at 518-291-0972, or through


Arrange a Group Visit

*Due to COVID-19, we are currently unable to welcome large group visits to the site. Please check back in the Spring of 2021! Also see our Events webpage for current offerings.

Groups are welcome by advance appointment from May through October, Tuesday – Sunday. We offer two options for large groups: Explore at Your Own Pace Visits and Guided Tour Visits (each defined below). Please email us for more information and to book your tour as early as possible to secure your date of choice (booking information below).

*Groups of 12 or fewer people are welcome to visit the Main House during regular hours of operation without a group reservation. We recommend that you buy your tickets in advance using our online ticketing page, as tours do sell out. Groups of more than 12 people should make advance arrangements (see below).

Explore At Your Own Pace Group Visit

(Tues–Sun, 2 pm–5 pm) May through October 

Groups of any size wishing to explore the Main House and Old Studio may schedule a self-guided visit from June through October, Tuesday – Sunday, between the hours of 2 pm and 5 pm. Professional museum educators are at the ready to welcome you into each space, and a complimentary guide book is available. A tailored introduction to the site upon your group’s arrival is available upon request. The special exhibition in the New Studio is always self-guided.

Rates: Explore at Your Own Pace Group Visit tickets are $15 per person. Admission to the grounds is always free of charge.

Guided Tour Group Visits

(Tues–Sun, 10 am–2 pm) June through October 

Groups of up to 24 people may schedule a guided group visit from May through October, Tuesday – Sunday, between the hours of 10am and 2pm (If you group numbers 12 or less, you may simply purchase regular tour tickets online. If your group is larger than 24, we recommend booking an “Explore at Your Own Pace” visit, described above). We offer two guided group tour options: Regular Guided Tours and Custom Guided Tours:

Regular Guided Tour  

Groups are guided through the Main House & Old Studio by knowledgeable museum educators. 

Regular Guided Tour Rates:

  • Guided Tour of Main House & Old Studio with an educator: $15 per person. When you reserve and visit as a group, we do not charge any additional fee for the educators and administrative staff that facilitate your group, so we do not offer discounted group admission. 

Custom Guided Tour  

Groups are guided through the Site by Members of Senior Staff 

Custom Tours are led with senior staff members. Your tour may cover specific areas depending on the interests of your group. Such topics might include our Women of Cedar Grove tour which debuted in 2019; a focused look at the annual OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole exhibition; or a behind the scenes look at the innovative Parlors installation. Availability of Custom Tours is limited, particularly during October, so please plan ahead. Custom tours are available from May–October, Tuesday–Friday.

Custom Guided Tour Options & Rates:

  • Private tour of Main House & Old Studio with an educator. Introduction by senior staff member: $25 per person. $250 minimum.
  • Private tour of Main House & Old Studio with an educator. Special exhibition introduction by senior staff member: $25 per person. $250 minimum.
  • Private tour of Main House & Old Studio with a senior staff member: $45 per person. $450 minimum [for this option, we can accommodate up to 12 people].
  • Private tour of Main House, Old Studio, & special exhibition by senior staff member: $55 per person. $500 minimum [for this option, we can accommodate up to 12 people].

Guided Group Tour Visits require a minimum of 2 hours on site. For the Main House portion, groups of more than 12 will be split up. Please note that there are several flights of stairs.


To make a reservation email Heather Paroubek at Please supply the following information:

  • The type of group visit in which you are interested
  • The number of people in your group
  • The preferred date and time of your visit
  • A short description of your group

Motor Coach Logistics

Motor coach parking is available in our parking lot (shared with Temple Israel), accessible from Spring Street. Please drive all the way into the lot and park in the upper portion, and turn off the engine.

rootArrange a Group Visit

School Programs

Bring History to Life!

School programs at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site promote learning through student participation in history, art, literature and preservation.  Our programs encourage students to explore in new ways, making history come alive.

General Information

By participating in the Thomas Cole Historic Site’s school programs, students will build higher level thinking skills while investigating the life and times of America’s most influential landscape painter, Thomas Cole. Students’ investigations begin when your class receives a package of evidence in the mail as the basis for pre-visit activities. The evidence includes documents, photographs and a powerpoint presentation introducing the class to Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School of Art, and Cedar Grove. Afterwards the students visit the historic site and explore more evidence about the life and creative output of Thomas Cole. Students examine data, gather information, and draw conclusions from their personal experiences. All school programs meet New York State learning standards for grades K-12.

An introduction to Thomas Cole’s Story

Get kids engaged before they even step in the door. Beloved children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott takes us on Thomas Cole’s adventure in “Picturing America: Thomas Cole And The Birth of American Art.”


1) Youth Tour

The students will visit the historic home, studios, and grounds of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. This special tour for students will pass through the historic flower garden and visit the site’s famous 200-year old Honey Locust Tree. The tour will then lead the group to the porch of the Main House, where perfect views of the Catskill Mountain range can be enjoyed. Students then enter the 1815 Federal yellow-brick Main House and tour the historic rooms where the Cole family lived, including the West Parlor where Thomas Cole was married. The Main House also includes gallery rooms, where exhibitions of art from the Hudson River School are on display. The tour continues into the “Old Studio” where Cole painted many of his best known works. The studio still contains Cole’s original easels and art-making materials.  The tour also includes a visit to the “New Studio” and the special exhibition inside it. This program lasts approximately one hour and costs $4-8 per student, on a sliding scale.

2) Thomas Cole and the Creative Process

Students examine Thomas Cole’s 1839 painting studio and learn what it was like to be an artist in the 19th century.  Students learn about the life of Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School of Art, and about the historic site.  The students then create sketches based on their experiences and turn these sketches into original paintings.  This program involves a youth tour and art project.  The entire program lasts approximately 2.5 hours and the cost is $6-12 per student, on a sliding scale.

Program Details

School Programs are offered Wednesday through Friday 9:30am to 1:00pm, May through October. Please make your group’s reservation at least one month in advance in order to secure your desired date and time.

Group size
Groups larger than 75 students may be accommodated when split over the course of two days.


For More Information

Contact: Heather Paroubek, Education Manager:


rootSchool Programs

The Village of Catskill in the Hudson Valley

The Thomas Cole National Historic Site sits near the Hudson River with a view of the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by other cultural destinations, lively restaurants, and world-renowned natural beauty. 

If you’re looking to plan your visit to the historic site, click here. To plan the rest of your stay, check out our recommendations below. From dazzling hikes in the Great Northern Catskills to the best places to sleep, we’ve got you covered.

When Thomas Cole first traveled up the Hudson River in 1825, he fell in love with this picturesque village on the water. Today, the Village of Catskill welcomes you with beautiful 19th-century architecture along the historic main street with shops and galleries, river activities including fishing and boating, waterfront restaurants, and an Audubon nature preserve where if you’re lucky you can spot a Bald Eagle.

General Visiting Information


The official website for visiting Greene County, where the Thomas Cole Site is located. This website includes a comprehensive listing of places to stay, places to eat, sights, activities and outdoor adventures.

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

A user-friendly website with in-depth information about the historic, cultural and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley. You can see a list of recommended sights to visit, create your own itinerary, or request free maps and brochures about visiting the Hudson River Valley.

Where to Stay

Photo by The Catskill Milliner

Photo by The Catskill Milliner

The Catskill Milliner: Boutique guest house and inn located just blocks from Catskill’s Main Street, the Thomas Cole Site, and the Hudson River.

Catskill Village House: Located on Main Street in the historic Village of Catskill, an entire home to rent with all your friends.

The Dewitt Oak Hill: A beautiful mix of eclectic style and comfort. A half hour drive from The Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Oak Hill, NY.

Hotel Mountain Brook: Adirondack-style lodge in Hunter with views of the Catskill Mountains

Hudson Milliner: A boutique guesthouse and inn located in the City of Hudson, across the river.

The Kaaterskill: A Farm Estate in the outskirts of the Town of Catskill.

The Post Cottage: A charming shingle-style home built in 1917 with elegant rooms and gourmet breakfasts, this Bed & Breakfast is directly across the street from the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

Scribner’s Catskill Lodge:  Recently reopened following an extensive renovation for a new generation of urban explorers,  the lodge features thoughtful design, friendly service, and delicious food and drinks in a mountain setting.

The Stewart House:  A recently renovated 11-room “River House” in nearby Athens, NY that first opened its doors in 1883 with a restaurant.

The Wick, A new full-service boutique hotel in Hudson, NY.

WM Farmer and Sons: Rustic chic accommodations and restaurant in Hudson, NY.

Where to Eat


Photo by HiLo

394 Main Wine Bar, Serving fine wines and small plates.

Ambrosia Diner, A classic retro diner.

Catskill Country Store, A market with local produce and sandwiches & salads to go.

Circle W Market, General store now serving breakfast and lunch on Main Street in Catskill, as well as in Palenville.

Crossroads Brewing Co, A water-front tap room and brewery in Catskill.

Gracie’s Luncheonette, A stylish diner where everything is homemade, right down to the ketchup.

Hartland on Hudson, One of a kind stationery and coffee bar.

HiLo, A cafe, bar, art gallery, and performance space, which couldn’t get much better.

New York Restaurant, The local spot for lunch and dinner.

Port of Call, Waterfront dining and seafood.

Nearby Attractions

Hudson River School Art Trail: Take a drive to the nearby views that Thomas Cole painted.

Hudson River Skywalk: See America’s first canvas with the Hudson River Skywalk, a new historic and scenic walkway at the place where American landscape painting began. The new walkway connects the Thomas Cole Site with Frederic Church’s Olana over the Rip Van Winkle.

RamsHorn-Livingston Audubon Sanctuary on River School Art Trail: Located in the Village of Catskill, this compact sanctuary contains over 436 acres of tidal marsh and swamp, upland forests and fallow farm fields. Keep your eyes peeled for Bald Eagles.

Scenic Hudson and Greene Land Trusts’ Mawignack Preserve: One mile loop trail along Catskill Creek, an area that Cole painted more than any other subject.

Olana State Historic Site: Just two miles away is the magnificent home of artist Frederic Church.

The Greene County Historical Society: Nine miles north is the Bronck Museum, the Hudson Valley’s oldest home, built in 1663.

City of Hudson: Across the Rip Van Winkle Bridge is this hopping city with shopping, restaurants and antiques.

Maps for download

Hiking in Greene County

Antiques and Country Stores

Nearby Attractions

Greene County Driving Tours

Itineraries for the Hudson River School Art Trail

rootThe Village of Catskill in the Hudson Valley

Visitor Center


The Visitor Center at the Thomas Cole site is located in part of an 1839 barn that was used as a storehouse for the farm operations at Cole’s home in Catskill. The other part of the building contains Thomas Cole’s “Old Studio”, the workspace that the artist used from 1839 to 1846, before his “New Studio” was completed. The charming 19th-century building with wide floorboards, exposed beams and the original bare wood walls on all sides, was restored to its original appearance in 2004. The Visitor Center now contains a great variety of books and gifts, public restrooms, and a welcome desk where visitors can purchase tickets and get information about their visit.

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Old Studio

The Old Studio is a barn-like building where Thomas Cole created many of his most iconic and celebrated paintings. The building was restored in 2004 and is now furnished with his original easels and other art-making equipment and tools.

Immediately after his marriage in 1836, Thomas Cole worked in the Main House itself. But in 1839, Cole was able to move to the Old Studio, a larger and more private space, thanks to John Thomson. The new location was a separate building on Cedar Grove’s grounds, as Cole explained in a letter to Asher B. Durand in December of 1839:

“Do you know that I have got into a new painting Room? Mr. Thomson has lately erected a sort of Store-house + has let me have part of it for a temporary painting room [;] it answers pretty well [;] is somewhat larger than my old one + being removed from the noise + bustle of the house is really charming…”

Although Cole considered this a temporary arrangement, he painted many of his most important works in this storehouse studio, including the Voyage of Life for his patron Samuel Ward, as the ceiling was high enough to accommodate large canvasses. A fireplace permitted Cole to work in any season, and Cole himself paid for the addition of a large skylight-like window to admit northern light, the preferred light for painting. Cole welcomed visits from his family to the studio, and the Cole children came and went while their father was working. The Old Studio also afforded the space for grinding pigments into paint, constructing stretchers, stretching canvasses, and fitting pictures into frames. Painting at this time involved a lot of hard physical labor—active, smelly, and frequently messy.

Cole painted in the Old Studio for seven years until December 1846. In his Christmas journal entry for that year, Cole recorded, “I am now sitting in my New Studio which is about completed though the walls are not yet dry.” Learn more about the New Studio here.

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Main House

The Main House is a three-story, Federal structure of painted brick that was built in 1815 by the brothers Thomas and John Thomson.  In 1836, Cole married John Thomson’s niece, Maria Bartow, who was living in the Main House with her uncle along with her sisters. After Thomas and Maria were married, the Main House became Cole’s permanent home. During Cole’s lifetime the household included John Thomson, Maria’s three unmarried sisters, three of the Coles’ children, Theodore, Mary, and Emily, and several hired servants. In the 1830s and 40s, Thomsons, Bartows, Coles, and their servants occupied every inch of the main house, including its attic and basement, and space was tight. There were between 11 and 14 people living in the home during this time.

Before the 1850s, American rooms seldom had fixed single uses as they do today. Like other significant rooms in the house, the entry hall had many purposes. In addition to providing a transition between outside and inside, the hall served as the receiving parlor for guests, a gathering place, a dining room, a children’s playroom, and a work area, especially in hot weather when the door could be left open to let in a breeze. Circular vents or grates in the second-floor bedrooms hint that a coal stove in the entry hall powered an innovative central heating system intended to heat bedrooms and the east parlor in the winter. The Thomson-Cole household used coal very early, as evidenced by records showing the purchase of coal stoves by John Thomson in the 1830s.

The west parlor, or sitting room, always had opulent appointments right from the beginning when furnishings were first being acquired for the house in 1821. In addition to a pianoforte worth the great sum of $250, the room contained a set of rush-bottomed chairs with a settee—together worth $42—a tea table, a writing table, a valuable carpet, an elegant looking-glass valued at $45, and the latest heating technology, which was a pyramid stove that probably burned wood. Despite this stove, however, the family continued to complain of cold in their letters and diaries throughout the 1830s and 40s. Around the time of the Coles’ 1836 marriage, the room was modified and updated to reflect the new Greek Revival style then in vogue.

The east parlor’s position and size make it the most likely location for family meals, although it was called the “East Parlor,” not the dining room. But in the first half of the nineteenth century, it would have been uncommon to have a designated eating room. Lightweight, highly mobile dining furniture moved around as required; and families used the room in which they ate for many other activities, including family prayers, children’s lessons, sewing, and socializing with friends. Thus, eating in the “East Parlor” rather than in the “dining room” followed period custom.

Upstairs, the Cole sitting room, the children’s bedroom, and Thomas and Maria’s bedroom constituted the Cole family apartment. The sitting room particularly provided the Coles with a private space, separate from the extended family, in which to create and maintain a married life together. Over the years, as the Cole family grew, there is a sense that the room was a refuge for the artist as well as for his wife. In the winter, the Coles drew together around their stove for such activities as reading aloud, sewing, and making quilts.

The small space off the Cole sitting room is believed to be the children’s bedroom. By 1846, Theodore, Mary, and Emily were old enough to share a room, which was common practice at the time. In an era of limited space, heat, and privacy, adults as well as children frequently shared bedrooms and beds. In fact, all three children may have slept in the same bed, or one child may have occupied a cot in the same room.

In the north corner of the crowded house, Thomas and Maria enjoyed the luxury of a small private bedroom. This room’s proximity to the Cole’s sitting room and to the children’s bedroom had obvious advantages. The Cole’s bedroom also offered ready access to the stairway and, via a triple-hung window, to the second floor porch. Perhaps befitting their new status as a married couple, the Coles slept in the most expensive bed in the house, one of two curtained beds owned by John Thomson. The remaining bedroom on the second floor was occupied by Maria Cole’s three unmarried sisters: Emily, Harriet and Francis.

Immediately after his marriage to Maria in 1836, Thomas Cole apparently worked in the main house itself. But in 1839, Cole was able to move to a larger and more private space in the Old Studio.

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Finishing Touches

November 25, 2015At last the beautiful, hand-made, bright green shutters have arrived. The architect John Mesick designed them to be exactly like the originals, with smaller louvers on the top half of each shutter and larger louvers on the bottom half. The color was taken from two sources: one is a pencil drawing by Frederic Church from 1848 in which he indicates the colors in his hand-written notes on the drawing. The second is from a recently discovered painting of the building by Charles Herbert Moore, which will be on view inside the New Studio as part of the 2016 exhibition that will open on May 1, 2016.

Betsy JacksFinishing Touches

Preview for Supporters Coming Up

On Saturday September 19th we will open the doors of the New Studio for the first time for a special preview for everyone who has donated to the campaign. This is a truly thrilling moment for all of us. Please donate now and join this incredible celebration. Cocktails will begin at 5 pm, followed by remarks by the building’s renowned architect John I Mesick at 5:30. The event is free for anyone who has donated to the campaign at any level. Become a part of this historic moment.

Betsy JacksPreview for Supporters Coming Up