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The Hosack Era (1828-1835)


William Bard inherited the estate and sold it in 1828 to Dr. David Hosack, his father's friend and partner.  Like Samuel Bard, Dr. Hosack loved the natural beauty of the area, but also took important steps to improve the estate.  He renovated the mansion and built numerous outbuildings, some of which remain today. 

Dr. Hosack was a very well known and regarded person in his day.  A graduate of Princeton, he was the personal physician to Governor DeWitt Clinton and was acquainted with many of the famous historical figures of the early United States.  He was friends with both Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, and was the supervising physician at their famous duel in 1804.  As such, he treated Hamilton when he was mortally wounded.

Dr. Hosack had a passion for botany, particularly for exotic plants.  He founded the first botanic garden in the United States, the famous Elgin Botanic Garden in 1801, on the site of what is now Rockefeller Center in New York City.  It appears that he also was the first to establish what would become the formal gardens on the Hyde Park estate.  The original gardens were located close to the main house, on what is now a lawn.  According to surviving documents, the main feature of the gardens were the extensive green houses which contained Hosack's large collection of exotic plants.  Dr. Hosack died suddenly of a stroke in 1835 and the collection was sold at auction.  Later owners of the estate would move the gardens farther away from the mansion.  Today, nothing remains of Dr. Hosack's garden. 

Andre Parmentier

Most importantly to the estate, Dr. Hosack commissioned landscape designer, Andre Parmentier, to redesign the landscape.   He was a Belgian immigrant, who had been operating a nursery in Brooklyn since 1824.  He believed in the principles of "picturesque landscape design", in which elements of the landscape are arranged to give the impression of a natural landscape vista.  Like his contemporary, Andrew Jackson Downing, Parmentier strove to enhance rather than overpower the natural beauty of an area.  Roads, bridges and lawns were laid out in such a way as to compliment the natural features of the landscape, while large areas were left wild.  The estate would eventually become as well for its landscape as  for its views of the Hudson River.  In fact, there is evidence that Downing studied Parmentier's work in Hyde Park.  Fortunately, succeeding owners of the estate also admired the landscaping and changed little of it over the years.  Today, much of Parmentier's original design remains and continues to be admired for its grace and beauty.

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