Southwood Estate is home to one of the Hudson Valley’s most spectacular views, stretching across the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains. As part of the original estate of the Livingston family, seven generations of whom lived on various parts of the estate during more than two centuries, the history of the land is equally remarkable. The 1776 map of the Livingston Manor is pictured here.
In 1686 the King of England granted the Livingston family 160,000 acres that became known as the Livingston Manor. Between 1740 and 1750, Robert Livingston, Jr. built a manor house which he named Clermont or "clear mountain", inspired by the view of the Catskill Mountains across the Hudson River from the estate.
One of the most notable residents of Clermont was Robert R. Livingston. He served as a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and negotiator of the Louisiana Purchase. The five prominent figures depicted here in John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776" are, from left to right, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.
In 1807 Robert R. Livingston worked with Robert Fulton to develop the first commercially successful steamboat on the Hudson river. Its first voyage left New York City, stopped briefly at Clermont Manor and continued on to Albany up the Hudson River, completing in just under 60 hours a journey which had previously taken nearly a week by sloop. The 1909 replica of the Clermont (aka North River Steamboat) is pictured here.
Upon Robert R. Livingston's death, his daughter Elizabeth Stevens Livingston inherited Clermont manor. Her five children inherited portions of Clermont and built manor houses and farms, Southwood being one. After some years of neglect Beatrice Perry purchased Southwood in 1969 and it has remained in the Perry family since. In 2013 the Perry family officially opened Southwood to the public to come enjoy what many have cherished for centuries.
Continue here if you'd like to learn even more about the incredible history of the Livingston family.