Evolution: From Rockefeller founding to public institution

Rockefeller Family

Formally chartered by New York State as an educational institution in 1951, Historic Hudson Valley began as Sleepy Hollow Restorations, founded by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

An instrumental force in reconstructing Colonial Williamsburg, Mr. Rockefeller was keenly interested in the history of the area made famous by Washington Irving as "Sleepy Hollow" because his own home, Kykuit, was nearby.

Through generous and forward thinking actions, he acquired Sunnyside, Philipsburg Manor, and Van Cortlandt Manor. After his death in 1960, his sons, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Laurance S. Rockefeller, and David Rockefeller, continued the family’s legacy of support of Sleepy Hollow Restorations, which acquired the Union Church of Pocantico Hills in 1984 and became Historic Hudson Valley in 1986. Those sons all served as trustees of the organization at various times, with Laurance serving as chairman emeritus at the time of his death in 2004.

When Nelson died in 1979, his will left his share of Kykuit to the National Trust, called for opening the property to the public as a museum, and named Historic Hudson Valley as his preferred organization for doing so. After years of planning and preparation, Historic Hudson Valley’s public visitation program at Kykuit began in 1994.

Historic Hudson Valley changed its status in 1992 from a private foundation to a public not-for-profit organization, enabling it to broaden its basis of support. During the last 10 years, changes in the philanthropic and governmental landscape inspired Historic Hudson Valley to further diversify, with an increased emphasis on programs that generate earned revenue to support its educational mission.