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 American landscape paintings. Thomas Cole was an artist and early environmentalist who founded the Hudson River School of landscape painting in the United States and advocated to protect the country’s natural scenery.

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.

Step into a Painting on a Self-Guided Adventure

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

What to Expect on Guided Art Trail Experiences:

Please note that the experiences 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.

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Arrange a Group Visit

Group visits are welcome by advance appointment through November, Thursday – Tuesday. We offer two options for large groups: Self-Guided 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. For the 2022 season, all visitors are required to wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required outdoors on the grounds.

*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).

Self-Guided Group Visit
(Saturdays & Sundays, 10 am–5 pm)

*NOTE for 2022 Season: We are experiencing staff shortages, and some options may have limited availability. Please contact us to discuss how we can best welcome your group.

Groups of any size wishing to explore the Main House and Old Studio at their own pace may schedule a visit through November, Thursday – Tuesday, between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm. Knowledgeable museum guides are at the ready to welcome you into each space, and a Guide Book is available. A tailored introduction to the site upon your group’s arrival is available upon request.

Rates: Self-Guided Group Visit tickets are $18 per person (peak season pricing in October is $20 per person). Discounts (such as senior and student discounts) apply. Admission to the grounds is always free of charge.

 

Guided Tour Group Visit
(Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays, 10 am–5 pm)

*NOTE for 2022 Season: We are experiencing staff shortages, and some options may have limited availability. Please contact us to discuss how we can best welcome your group.

Groups of more than 12 people may schedule a visit through November, Thursday – Tuesday, between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm. We offer two types of guided group tours: Regular Guided Tours and Custom Guided Tours:

Regular Guided Tour

Groups are guided through the Main House and Old Studio by knowledgeable museum guides.

Rates: Regular Group tour tickets are $18 per person for all visitors (peak season pricing in October is $20 per person). Admission to the grounds is always free of charge. 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 admission, such as the senior discount.

Custom Guided Tour

Custom Tours are led by senior staff members. Your tour may cover specific areas depending on the interests of your group. Such topics might include the historic interior decoration and furnishings; a focus on a particular 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. Available through November, Monday–Friday.

Custom Guided Tour Options & Pricing:

  • 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.

Booking

To make a reservation email us at education@thomascole.org. 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

Bus Parking

We recommend that Buses park along Hudson Avenue, accessible from Spring Street.

 

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.”

Programs

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

Availability
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:

E-mail: hparoubek@thomascole.org

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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

Rachel_Stults_2017_Sunset_Rock_crop

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.

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.

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

hilo

Photo by HiLo

394 Main Street Grill, Serving lunch and dinner.

Avalon Lounge, Music venue with a Korean kitchen

Ambrosia Diner, A classic retro diner.

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, art gallery, and performance space, which couldn’t get much better.

Mansion + Reed, A general store and coffee counter on historic Reed Street, Coxsackie

The Mermaid Cafe, Farm to table taco cafe

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

Port of Call, Waterfront dining and seafood.

Willa’s Bakery Cafe, A waterfront breakfast and lunch spot on Catskill Creek.

 

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.

Mountain Top Arboretum: A public garden in the Catskill Mountains, with trails connecting 178 acres of plant collections, meadows, wetlands, forest, and more.

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

VC

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

This studio is the where Thomas Cole created many of his major works. The building was restored in 2004 and is now furnished with his original easels and other art-making equipment and tools.

 

Do you know that I have got into a new painting Room[?]  Mr. Thomson has lately erected a sort of Storehouse and has let me have part of it for a temporary painting room; it answers pretty well, is somewhat larger than my old one and being removed from the noise and bustle of the house is really Charming – what shall I be able to produce in it heaven knows – the walls are unplastered brick with the beams and timbers seen on every hand – not a bad colour this pale brick and mortar.  I am engaged upon my great Series. 

Thomas Cole to Asher B. Durand, December 18, 1839. NYSL, Cole Papers, Box 1, Folder 4

 

When/By Whom it was Built:

Begun in early 1839, and overseen by John Alexander Thomson and Thomas Cole. Information about the team of people who built the structure is not currently known.

 

By Whom it was Designed:

Thomas Cole and John Alexander Thomson. Click here for the 2022 exhibition catalog, in which scholar Annette Blaugrund discusses a letter revealing Thomas’s role in designing the building.

 

The Other Half of the Building: Storehouse

During Thomas’s residency here, the property consisted of 110 acres of farm fields and orchards. The east half of this building was the storehouse, a crucial part of the farm operation. It was likely in this building that harvested and saleable crops (hay, oats, corn, barley) were stored. Today, this east half of the building is the Site’s Visitor Center and Gift Shop.

 

Enter Thomas Cole:

Immediately after his marriage in 1836, Thomas Cole worked in the Main House itself. But in 1839, he was able to move to this building, a larger and more private space. He considered this new building to be “a temporary arrangement,” for he hoped to build a new house with a studio inside. The house was never realized, and instead he painted here for seven years. Thomas painted many of his most important works here, including the Voyage of Life for his patron Samuel Ward, as the ceiling was high enough to accommodate large canvasses. A fireplace permitted Thomas to work in any season, and he added a large skylight-like window to admit northern light, the preferred light for painting. Thomas welcomed visits from his family to the studio: as he worked, Maria, who married Thomas, read to him and offered advice, and the Cole children often visited. The Old Studio also afforded 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.

 

Painted Here: “My Great Series”

Among other works, Thomas pained The Voyage of Life series in this space. Click here for more about the series.

 

About Contemporary Artwork On Site:

This property has long been an inspiration for artists. In addition to Thomas Cole, family members Sarah Cole (1805-57) and Emily Cole (1843-1913) were both practicing artists; and many others visited here to see the place where Thomas lived and worked. We seek to continue this tradition of living artists actively working in and being inspired by this site, by working with artists through OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole. This annual series of curated contemporary artist installations is located within, and in response to, the historic home and studios of artist Thomas Cole. Operating from the concept that all art is contemporary, the program activates conversations between artists across centuries. Exhibitions and artworks have ranged from those that literally reference Thomas’s iconic works to those that expand on issues and themes relevant to Thomas, including art, landscape, history, and balancing the built and natural worlds. OPEN HOUSE projects shed light on the connections between nineteenth-century American art and our contemporary moment. Click here to see the current or upcoming exhibition in the series.

 

How to Explore:

In the warmer months, the Site has regular open hours, and you can purchase a ticket to explore the historic interiors. In the colder months, the Old Studio (and Main House) are open for private tours by appointment. Click here to find out more. Also, check out 360 Explore, a virtual walkthrough of the historic interiors.

 

 

I am still a Youth in imagination + build Castles still.

Thomas Cole to Asher B. Durand about the “Voyage of Life” series, March 8, 1842, New York State Library, Thomas Cole Papers, Box 1, Folder 5

 

Image: Charles Herbert Moore, Old Studio, c. 1860s. Oil on canvas, Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
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Main House

In 1815, siblings Thomas, John Alexander, and Catherine Thomson had this house built for themselves and their extended family. It has stood here since that time. Cole-family descendants lived here through the 1970s, after which time the house was neglected. It passed through several hands before the Greene County Historical Society assumed ownership in 1998. The house/site is now owned/operated privately by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

 

I arrived here in February last after an absence of nearly 12 years [in South America] in good health and flourishing circumstances having realized my full expectations as far as regards the accumulation of wealth […] Alexander has […] commenced building a very comfortable House on the Hill for the Family which I trust will be ready by next Dec.

Thomas T. Thomson in Catskill to his sister Maria Thomson Bartow in Canada, May 17, 1815. Albany Institute of History and Art, Thomas Cole Collection, CV553, Box 1, Folder 11.

 

When/By Whom the House was Built:

Begun in 1814, and overseen by siblings Thomas, John Alexander, and Catherine Thomson. This house was built by a group that likely included enslaved persons. We know that the Thomsons enslaved people from at least 1790 up until at least 1817. For more, check out the research of two of our Cole Fellows, Adaeze Dikko and Beth Wynne: Regarding the Free, Black woman documented as a Cedar Grove Resident and Contextual Research on the Unnamed, Free Black Woman and Other Laborers at Cedar Grove.

 

Architectural Style:

Federal (of the period after the American Revolution when a federal system of government was being developed). It is characterized by symmetry, high ceilings, the bald eagle visible in the window over the front door, and features inspired by ancient Greek architecture.

 

Enter Thomas Cole:

Thomas Cole moved into the house after he married into the Thomson family: Maria Bartow (1813-1884) married Thomas in 1836. Thomas himself never owned the house.

 

Who Lived Here During Thomas Cole’s Residency (1836-48):

Maria and Thomas lived here along with many other family members and hired laborers. During Thomas’s time here, the number of residents at the property ranged from 11-14, and this included a free Black woman recorded on the 1840 census. This household of people acted as a support system to Thomas, enabling him to produce his artwork and support the household with his earnings. Click here for the in-progress list of people who resided here at the same time as Thomas Cole.

 

Title Holders:

After John A. Thomson passed away in 1846, ownership of the property passed to a succession of Bartow and Cole women, who were both titleholders and stewards of the property. We are ever in debt to their remarkable efforts to preserve it. For a glimpse into their stories, check out A Feminist’s Guide to the Thomas Cole Site.

 

Reinterpretation Efforts: 

We believe that the stories of those who lived here are key to telling the histories of this property. In 2017, we installed the first phase of these efforts with The Parlors, combining scholarship, restoration of the interiors, and technology-driven storytelling to immerse visitors in Cole’s world and thoughts. As we move forward, we seek to shine a spotlight on those who lived here with Thomas, and who made his pursuit of a career in the arts possible.

 

Restoration of the Interiors: 

Click here to view the 2019 Historic Structures report.

 

About Contemporary Artwork On Site:

This property has long been an inspiration for artists. In addition to Thomas Cole, family members Sarah Cole (1805-57) and Emily Cole (1843-1913) were both practicing artists; and many others visited here to see the place where Thomas lived and worked. We seek to continue this tradition of living artists actively working in and being inspired by this site by working with artists through OPEN HOUSE: Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole. This annual series of curated contemporary artist installations is located within, and in response to, the historic home and studios of artist Thomas Cole. Operating from the concept that all art is contemporary, the program activates conversations between artists across centuries. Exhibitions and artworks have ranged from those that literally reference Thomas’s iconic works to those that expand on issues and themes relevant to Thomas, including art, landscape, history, and balancing the built and natural worlds. OPEN HOUSE projects shed light on the connections between nineteenth-century American art and our contemporary moment.  Click here to see the current or upcoming exhibition in the series.

 

Artworks by Thomas Cole Made Inside the Main House: 

Upon Thomas’ marriage to Maria Bartow, he used a small room on the second floor as a studio space. It later became the children’s bedroom. In that room, Thomas painted:

  • View on the Catskill—Early Autumn, Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Departure, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • The Return, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • View of Florence, The Cleveland Museum of Art
  • View of the Arno, Near Florence, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA
  • Dream of Arcadia, Denver Art Museum Collection
  • Elevation of State House, Columbus, Ohio, (architectural drawing), Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Italian Coast Scene with Ruined Tower, National Gallery of Art (NGA)
  • Past, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • Present, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA
  • Tower by Moonlight, Thomas Cole National Historic Site
  • View of Schroon Mountain, Essex County, New York, After a Storm, The Cleveland Museum of Art
  • A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Landscape with Tower in Ruin, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH
  • Multiple studies for The Voyage of Life series, National Gallery of Art, DC; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute

  

How to Explore:

In the warmer months, the Site has regular open hours, and you can purchase a ticket to explore the historic interiors. In the colder months, the Main House (and Old Studio) are open for private tours by appointment. Click here to find out more. Also, check out 360 Explore, a virtual walkthrough of the historic interiors.

 

I often look at our house and think, how wonderful that so much of happiness should be comprised in that little spot.

Thomas Cole to Maria Cole, undated letter from the Mountain House, New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections, Thomas Cole Papers 1821-1863, SC10635, Cole Family Letters, Box 4 Folder 4.

 

 

Image: Charles Herbert Moore, Untitled (Cedar Grove), 1868. Oil on canvas, 5 7/8 x 9 1/4 in., Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Gift of Edith Cole Silberstein. 
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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