The Yaddo artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs will offer a rare tour of the historic mansion and other sites in the private portion of the estate this fall.
These tours have be offered only five times since the 400-acre estate was turned into an artists’ retreat in 1926. The last one was in 2011. Except for the gardens on site, Yaddo is closed to the public to ensure privacy and solitude for the more than 200 artists who reside there each summer.
The property originally belonged to Jacobus Barhyte, a Revolutionary War veteran who built a tavern and sawmill on the grounds. The tavern was frequented by many well-known writers in the 1830s and 1840s, including Edgar Allan Poe, who is believed to have written at least part of “The Raven” there.
Multimillionaire Spencer Trask and his poet wife Katrina bought the property in 1881 and named it Yaddo. The mansion that stands today was completed in 1893, less than two years after a fire destroyed the original house. There, they hosted parties attended by artists, composers, statesmen and industrialists.
After their four children all died young, the Trasks incorporated Yaddo in 1900 and came up with the idea that after their deaths it would be used as a retreat for authors, painters, sculptors, musicians and other artists.
Spencer died in a train accident in 1909. Katrina died in 1922. Four years later, the estate welcomed its first group of artists. Since then, it has welcomed more than 6,000 artists from the likes of author Sylvia Plath and American composer Aaron Copland to novelist James Baldwin and poet Langston Hughes.
Four two-hour guided tours will be offered Sunday, Sept. 21, beginning at 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. The day before, Yaddo President Elaina Richardson will host an exclusive “Deluxe Tour” open to only 50 guests from 4 to 7 p.m. It will include a cocktail reception in West House, the second-largest residence on the estate.
All tours include the first two floors of the 45,000-square-foot, 55-room mansion, the first floor of West House, select artist studios and a burial ground. Highlights include several stained glass windows and a Tiffany fireplace mosaic. The Deluxe Tour will feature additional stops, including the Yaddo Authors’ Library.
Admission is by advance sale only, and tickets are available online only at www.yaddo.org. General tour tickets are $50. Deluxe tour tickets are $250. Ticket sales close Sept. 18 at 5 p.m.
Proceeds from the tour will support the artist residency program and repairs to structures in the gardens.