Washington Irving's beloved 'piazza' gets a facelift


Friday, 7/3/2015 4:27pm

My own place has never been so beautiful as at present. I have made more openings by pruning and cutting down trees, so that from the piazza, I have several charming views of the Tappan Zee and the hills beyond; all set as it were in verdant frames, and I am never tired of sitting there in my old Voltaire chair, on a long summer morning, with a book in my hand, sometimes reading, sometimes musing on the landscape, and sometimes dozing and mixing all up in a pleasant dream.

— Washington Irving, in a letter to Sarah Paris Storrow, August 23, 1847

Washington Irving treasured the Hudson River views at his home, Sunnyside, and one his favorite perches to enjoy those vistas was from what he called the piazza, the covered porch off the parlor on the home’s west side.

Visitors to Sunnyside can now enjoy those views much as Irving did, thanks to recent renovations by Historic Hudson Valley which have restored the piazza to its former glory. HHV’s restoration team carefully replicated woodwork on the piazza’s columns, soffits, and decorative trim, matching pieces which had rotted over the years. The team repaired the deck and gave the porch a fresh coat of paint. And, thanks to a generous donation from a Sunnyside neighbor, the piazza got a much-needed new roof.

Other recent renovations to the Sunnyside complex include new cedar-shake roofing on the Visitor Center, repairs to the cracked terra cotta chimney pot atop the Coach House, and many layers of paint.

The next time you are at Sunnyside, stop by the piazza, have a seat, and imagine Irving dozing contentedly in the chair next to you!

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