Read the memories that have been shared so far and submit your memory below.
I spent the early years of my childhood growing up in Claverack, NY. My parents brought my sister and me to Olana often when we were little. Whenever we had family from out of town my parents always brought them to Olana. I moved to New Jersey in 1983 when my father lost his job. I always went back to Olana whenever I came upstate to visit friends. I asked my wife to marry me at Olana in 1998. I’m divorced now but I still bring my children from New Jersey to Olana every year.
I’ve toured the house dozens of times over my lifetime. I still enjoy the tours and hearing a different twist to the tour depending on who’s giving it. Every so often I learn something new. The single thing I like the most about Olana; it’s never the same experience depending on when you go. Winter, spring, summer or fall offers an entirely different experience. They are all awesome.
Belle Mead, NJ
Susan and I are truly honored to receive the Frederic Church Award. We are inspired by this honor and inspiration is what I would like to talk about tonight—-briefly.
I grew up in the town of Hudson, New York. In those days, the town was dying. The local cement plants were closing and there were no other job opportunities. Young people could not see a future.
But I was lucky. I grew up with my grandmother who knew Louis Church, the son of Frederic Church. She knew about Olana. For me, Olana was the magical castle on the hill. It was exotic and worldly—maybe a little other-worldly. I used to dream about Olana and it inspired me. The more I learned about Frederic Church, the more I wanted to travel the world like he did.
Our family connection to Olana inspired my love of Hudson River School paintings. Louis Church had advised my grandfather to buy a painting of the Catskills by Sanford Gifford. In the 1970s my grandmother gave me the paintings and the collector flame was lit. From that painting, Susan and I were inspired to collect American art.
Olana is an inspiration, not just for Americans but for people everywhere. What boy or girl visiting Olana today is inspired to be an artist, an environmentalist, a landscape architect, an historian? Will he or she be inspired to travel the world, or to build a castle?
Susan and I thank you and wish you a lifetime of inspiration.
Washburn Oberwager, acceptance speech at the 2016 Frederic Church Award Gala
Former Board Chair, The Olana Partnership
“I was absolutely thrilled to see all that has happened at Olana in these many past years and I am so very, very impressed with the careful, meticulous, smart work you and your colleagues have done to restore it to its former glory.” – Alison Ferris, a former intern visits Olana
In early June 1997 our daughter was married in the arched doorway at Olana. It was a beautiful sunny day and the hired harpist made elegant music for the event. Having the aura of this magnificent setting of Frederic Church’s home for this wedding made perfect sense. This is where we brought our children to sleigh ride in winter, picnic in summer and view the breathtaking majestic explosion of fall over the miles of meadows and mountains and the Hudson River. Life came full circle that day. Our beautiful bride played in the same doorway in childhood where she was now getting married.
Thank you to all those who saved this treasure so that we all can continue to make lasting memories and enjoy the glory that is Olana.
Jay Poynte, Virginia Beach, VA
I do not have a single, most important memory of Olana. Instead, my thoughts are a culmination of the last 10 years since discovering it after moving to the Hudson Valley. Olana represents my happy place, my family place, my place to pause and reflect. I clearly remember the first time I watched the sun set over the mountains–it took my breath away. As a family, we have taken advantage of many of the programs offered–from Owleen and astronomy nights, to painting classes and guided walks. Each visit has added to the overall feeling I have about Olana. My children have attended camp there for the last 4 years, begging at the end of each season to sign up for the following year. I have spent hours walking the grounds, and watching the indigo buntings and the goldfinches in the spring. And of course, there is the house itself–the beauty of the architecture, the history it contains, and the story of the man who lived there. We have toured it many times, and always find something new.
While I realize that thousands of people visit Olana each year, the memories I have make it my own. I could never choose just one specific moment to share. Rather, it is the compilation of the years of visits, the times with my family, as well as the time spent alone, that make it the place that makes my heart happy.
Anne K. Arent, Clinton Corners, NY