Bard College and Historic Hudson Valley reach agreement to transfer ownership of Montgomery Place

Historic Hudson Valley gains protections that permanently preserve site’s historic assets; 
Bard’s acquisition of 380-acre Dutchess County estate adjacent to its core campus;
Consistent with strategic goals

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY (Sept. 30, 2015) – Bard College and Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) have agreed to transfer ownership of Montgomery Place, a 380-acre estate with significant historic and cultural assets, to the College, whose campus is contiguous with the property from River Road to the Hudson River in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Bard will use Montgomery Place as a teaching space for its many diverse programs, including the arts, the humanities, and the study of the environmental sciences.

“The College has every intention of respecting the significance of the property in terms of historic preservation, public access, and agriculture,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein.

The transaction includes new deed restrictions that ensure preservation of the site’s historic assets and working farm while giving Bard significant programmatic opportunities.

“This is a momentous opportunity for the college, securing its long-term future and protecting one of its most important attributes, which is the beauty of its landscape and campus,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein. “Bard’s campus and its programs have always been accessible to the public,” he added, explaining, “we are a college that operates in the public interest, and we intend to continue offering public access to Montgomery Place as we integrate into a single, coherent 1000-acre campus.” He noted that the College hopes to create new pathways and bikeways, and to utilize Montgomery Place on behalf of the academic and public programs of the college.

“Since saving the property from an uncertain fate in 1986, HHV has been a superb steward of this property and a valuable resource for the community. We are delighted to preserve the past of Montgomery Place while carrying its promise forward into the future,” said Mr. Botstein.

“I would like to thank History Hudson Valley and Bard’s Board of Trustees and major donors to the College for making this possible. We are proud to be entrusted as stewards of this property.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Bard on this transaction, which protects the site while keeping it relevant and fresh for generations to come,” said Waddell W. Stillman, president of Historic Hudson Valley. “This is the highest and best resolution of the future of Montgomery Place and HHV. The site’s rich historic, cultural, and environmental resources are a natural fit with the expertise and passion Bard brings to its cultural and academic endeavors.”

Founded in 1860, Bard College is a highly selective independent, nonsectarian, coeducational, four-year college of the liberal arts and sciences, offering the bachelor of arts degree with concentrations in nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions—Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies—and Interdivisional Programs and Concentrations. Bard also offers several dual degree, graduate, and international programs.

Founded in 1951, the Pocantico Hills-based Historic Hudson Valley, a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit education and cultural organization, owns and operates a network of historic sites, including Montgomery Place. HHV educates more than 20,000 schoolchildren each year in New York State curriculum-based programs and welcomes more than 250,000 visitors to its sites and special events.

The two organizations have a contract of sale in place, and the Montgomery Place transaction is scheduled to close by year end.

New deed restrictions guarantee the permanent protection of the site’s historic, architectural, visual, and environmental resources. In addition to land protections HHV put in place early in its stewardship of the site, the organization is placing new protections on the property for the key facades of all four of the site’s AJ Davis-designed buildings, and for the four principal interiors of the ground-floor of the mansion.

“This is an excellent outcome for Montgomery Place,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute, which has protected nearly 2.2 million acres in North America and more than 130,000 acres in New York.  “Thanks to the efforts made by both Historic Hudson Valley and Bard College to protect the historic integrity of Montgomery Place, this remarkable Hudson Valley treasure will be forever conserved. This is a win-win for Montgomery Place and the local economy.”

HHV will continue to provide interpretation of the site and its themes of landscape and the changing nature of land use over time through digital means, including its website, http://american-arcadia.hudsonvalley.org/. Proceeds from the sale will help HHV reinvest in programs at its Westchester sites and ensure the long-term viability of its educational mission.

The original campus of Bard College, which was founded in 1860 as St. Stephen’s College, was a gift from physician John Bard, who donated part of his riverside estate for its establishment. A number of significant buildings from the estate and that era are still in use today. Over the past 155 years, the campus and its facilities have grown to accommodate Bard’s academic programs and its mission to offer programs for the community. Bard’s largely open campus has welcomed members of the community and visitors from around the globe to enjoy its beauty and participate in its many academic and cultural programs. Its current 560-acre campus has been widely hailed as one of the most beautiful in the US — a status that will be strengthened and maintained with the addition of this important new property.