Springside - A National Historic Landmark
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History

In this section: Springside is Born : Vassar’s Retreat : Next Century : Rescue and Restore : Explore More

Springside over the next century (1868 to 1960s)

Vassar had no direct heirs. After his death, Springside was purchased by the neighboring property holder to the east, industrialist John O. Whitehouse. The Whitehouse family used Springside as an annex to Mountain View, their estate on Hooker Avenue. Visitors to Springside can find their name carved in the rocks of Stonehenge, probably one of the family’s favorite picnic spots.

Whitehouse’s son-in-law, E.N. Howells, used Springside to create a rambling gentleman’s farm with purebred imported livestock. The property continued to reflect wealth and privilege. Howell reconstructed the dairy barn, built an “ornamental poultry house of great practical excellence,” and added a piggery. The coach house and stables were “quite English”, with mats of colored sand stamped with Howell’s monogram, shields, and figures of running horses. Guests and visiting dignitaries were driven by carriage through Springside’s landscaped pleasure grounds on their way to lawn parties and receptions at the Mountain View mansion.

When Howells went bankrupt in 1901, Springside was again purchased by a neighboring estate, this time an estate directly to the south called Hudson Knolls (previously known as Ringview) owned by shipping magnate William Nelson. The original Hudson Knolls mansion burned in 1908. His widow built the one pictured here circa 1911.

Three Nelson children – Gerald Nelson, Geraldine Nelson Acker, and Gertrude Nelson Fitzpatrick – inherited the estate and kept parts of it in the family until the 1970s. Nelson family lived in the Hudson Knolls mansion until the 1940s. The Fitzpatrick’s occupied Springside’s buildings and grounds. The Ackers built a new home called “Spring Gable” in 1929 on the site Downing selected for Vassar’s grand residence.

During this period of family management, much of the eastern farmlands were sold for eventual housing development, and various drainage improvements were made, including creating a new pond. From a combination of benign neglect, oversight, and chance, however, the heart of the property survived essentially unchanged for one hundred years after Vassar’s death.

To see pictures of early Springside, take the tours.