Rachel Dickinson: FREDERIC CHURCH AND MY FRIEND HEATHER

Author Rachel Dickinson is the 6th generation of her family to live in Freeville, a tiny village in central New York State.
Olana in Hudson, NY

Olana in Hudson, New York. photo: Rolf Muller

Every morning for the past decade I’ve taken a walk with my neighbor Heather. We walk along the abandoned railroad tracks that run through the swamp along the backside of the village and as we walk we look for birds and beavers and talk about our lives. Turns out Heather’s childhood was far more exciting than mine. Read more…

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16 Responses to Rachel Dickinson: FREDERIC CHURCH AND MY FRIEND HEATHER

  1. How fabulous. What a wonderful place to grow up!

    • rachelbirds says:

      Heather remembers when then Governor Nelson Rockefeller come by helicopter to accept the estate on behalf of the state. He tweaked her braids (or maybe it was her sister’s braids).

  2. John Stemen says:

    Great article! Olana is a great place to take a picnic lunch to. They have some nice short trails; you can bring your dog, walk a little, and enjoy a beautiful view. The tour of Church’s estate is fantastic, and there are a number of his paintings on display. The City of Hudson, just several miles away, has become much more of a destination in recent years, with dozens of antique shops and restaurants lining a now-bustling main street (Warren Street). Many of the nearby communities, The beautiful towns of Saugerties, Woodstock, Kinderhook, and Rhinebeck are also just a short drive away, and are also interesting towns to stay in and walk around.

  3. Bobbi Dempsey says:

    Wow, looks like a great place to spend a childhood. Will definitely make sure to check it out if I’m ever in the area.

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    Truly amazing structure. I know there are castles around the country, but none where I live. I can’t imagine playing Robin Hood with that as your backdrop!

  5. rachelbirds says:

    Thanks for the comments, Bobbi and Jane. Olana is one of a kind. Check out their website — http://www.olana.org/ — to see some of the wonderful Persian details.

    Rachel

  6. Heather’s family would be surprised at how Olana has been restored! I’ve been there several times and love to look south at the Hudson River as it winds its way south. All the Middle Eastern tile work inside is way cool also.

  7. Rachel,
    Lovely story. The next time I visit Olana, I will see it from an entirely new perspective, thanks to you and Heather. Now, if only they had swings….

  8. JUDIE FEIN says:

    rachel, you are a painter of words. loved waking up to your verbal canvas.

  9. Deb Thomas says:

    As the sister who was usually Robin Hood to Heather’s Will Scarlet, it was indeed a wonderful place to grow up. It has rather spoiled me for anything else though I came close in a 4-acre property in Nelson, British Columbia in Canada’s Kootenay region.
    We journeyed back together (all 3 sisters) in the summer of 2009 to see how they had restored our old house and what they’ve done to maintain the property. They’ve done a magnificent job – though it will never be quite the same as when we were running wild in its woods and fields.

  10. Olana is one of my favorite places to visit. My husband and I enjoyed a stop there on our road trip last summer. He was fascinated to discover this wonderful site with it’s beautiful grounds and unique architecture. It must have been a fabulous place for a kid to grow up. Heather was a lucky little girl and we are lucky that this amazing site is available to visit and enjoy. The Hudson River Valley is certainly rich in History and beautiful scenery.
    Margaret Sneddon
    Tarrytown, NY

  11. Lori Jablons says:

    Rachel, I’m so happy to have found your beautiful blog. Church is one of my favorite artists. I grew up in the Hudson Valley, and I’ve been wanting to visit Olana for years. When I come home this summer it is the first thing I plan to do. Looking forward to being a regular reader!

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