Bard College – Part 1: Blithewood Manor
The initial time I arrived at the Bard Campus, the first thing I noticed was its breathtaking natural beauty and a hidden-in-the-forest feeling. As I drove from one side of the campus to the other I was also struck by the large assortment of historic buildings, modern laboratories, gardens, landscape art installations, performance centers, and even waterfalls. I parked near by a 300 year old red maple and stretched my legs discovering the grand alabaster-white Blithewood mansion and estate.
Later I learned that, in 1903 Captain Andrew Zabriskie’s commissioned architect Francis Hoppin to create a master plan for the manor house with formal garden. Hoppin designed an eclectic structure that merged architectural and ornamental details of traditional English mansion design together with turn-of-the-century innovations. The house and its traditional Italian garden were donated to Bard College in 1951.
Bard College restored and entrusted Blithewood to its’ Levy Economic Institute in 1987. The internationally acclaimed architectural firm of Polshek Partnership Architects (today know as ENEAD), well-recognized for new building design, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse, spearheaded its restoration. Today Blithewood possesses a twenty-first-century communication and computer systems that supports its cutting-edge research facility and offers a library, offices, lecture rooms, and a lush garden.
The beautifully manicured garden sits overlooking the Hudson River. A central fountain sets a relaxing tone and friendly faced statues echo the sweet spirit of the flowers that fill the garden beds. Protected in its stone walls and nestled on a bench among exuberant peonies you can seek sanctuary and for just a while forget the world.