We took a weekend trip to upstate NY in October, and it was the perfect time to take a road trip because the fall foliage was at its peak. This trip was about touring mansions and seeing how some of the rich lived long ago. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua, New York, was our second tour. It’s a Victorian with gorgeous grounds that have something for everyone to enjoy.
The Queen Anne mansion belonged to Mary Clark Thompson and was built in 1887 as a Summer home. It has 9 gardens in different styles and sits on 50 acres near Canandaigua Lake. As you walk the grounds, it will feel like you’re going around the world. There is a Japanese garden featuring a tea house and beautiful stone bridge over water, old fountains with flowing water, and a pool designed to look like a Roman bathhouse, among other gardens. The pool was not in working order, which you’ll see in the photographs, and I’m unsure if it stays that way or gets filled occasionally. We were in a rush and didn’t have time to see everything, but on our next trip up we’ll go during the spring or summer to see the gardens in bloom.
The mansion does show her age in some areas but is interesting and worth the trip. The interior is as unique as the grounds are. The décor was eclectic, in true Victorian fashion. You’ll see taxidermy here and there, which was popular in the Victorian Era. There are plenty of bathrooms, which we found pretty neat for a house built so long ago. My husband jokingly said he wonders if the owner had a bladder problem. Something I found funny was that the subway tiles and octagon tiles in bathrooms are coming back in style now, so it just goes to show that if you wait long enough, everything will be “cool” again.
There are dresses of the period in some of the bedrooms and you’ll realize just how tiny people were back then. Beautiful wallpaper, furnishings, and woodwork are all around. An interesting tidbit the guide told us is that the owner had a ticket to go on the Titanic but ended up not going. There is a newspaper clipping on the wall about it sinking. I wish we could’ve spent more time here to really look at all the little trinkets each room had, but I think we’ll plan another trip in the future to see all that we missed.
There is much more to see than what I mentioned, so if you find your way to upstate NY, be sure to plan a visit to Sonnenberg Mansion and Gardens and see what you can discover.
Plan your visit and learn more at: https://www.sonnenberg.org/