Home Blog A Legacy of Innovation: Kykuit's Sustainable Design and Practices

A Legacy of Innovation: Kykuit's Sustainable Design and Practices


The Rockefeller name is one of the most famous family names in American history. However, the family’s legacy in environmental preservation, sustainability, and the arts is not as well known. Kykuit, Dutch for “lookout,” is the name of the family home and one of the most interesting Sleepy Hollow historical attractions. Touring the home gives you a glimpse into the lives of one of the Gilded Age’s wealthiest families. See the blend of classical opulence with modern art and innovative environmental consciousness.

The House and Grounds 

Touring Kykuit is unlike touring any other Gilded Age mansion. While there are touches of opulence, there is a distinct blending of drastically different tastes. The home’s architectural style is classical Revival. It features large stone terraces, prominent fountains, and extensive formal gardens in various styles. The villa was completed in 1913 after several years of designing and building. The 40-room villa sits on 3,400 acres overlooking the Hudson River. While the home was initially built for John D. Rockefeller as a seasonal home, it became a full-time family home for four generations. 


As you tour the home, you will see a juxtaposition between classic and contemporary tastes. This is partly due to the number of family members involved in the design and decor. John D. Rockefeller was conservative, pragmatic, and had little interest in art. In contrast, his son Junior was deeply interested in history, favoring classical Chinese, Medieval, and Greek art and architecture. Junior’s wife and son loved modern art and amassed an impressive collection on the estate. The result is a classical home and Italian gardens decorated with modern art and statues. 

Stone Barns

The Stone Barns are located on the Rockefeller property. Rockefeller commissioned these stone buildings to turn into a working dairy farm. Then, later generations embraced sustainable farming by raising cows on the property. Currently, the Stone Barns are part of a 300+ acre Rockefeller Park Preserve. Surrounding the stone buildings is rolling farmland. The farm is dedicated to practicing regenerative agriculture through an intensive multi-species grazing program and avoiding anything artificial. In addition to taking a self-guided audio tour, you can visit the Blue Hill restaurant. This upscale diner features an elegant menu that utilizes products grown on the property. 


There are three tours that you can choose from when visiting Kykuit. The Selected Highlights Tour is about 1.5 hours long and includes the house's Inner Garden, West Terrace, and main floor. The Classic Tour is slightly longer, at just over two hours. In addition to the main floor and Inner Garden, you will tour the art galleries, golf room, and Coach Barn. The third tour option is the Grand Tour, which lasts three hours. It will include everything from the Classic Tour while giving you more time in the art galleries and gardens. You will also get to see the second-floor rooms of the home. 

How to Visit 

If you want to visit Kykuit, do not drive to the house. All tours start at the Visitor Center at Philipsburg Manor. You will take a shuttle to Kykuit. There are lockers at the visitor center for your bulky items and bags. Tickets range from $25 to $65, depending on the tour you sign up for. In addition, the house is open seasonally for four tours, so buying your tickets in advance is best to ensure you can tour the house and grounds when you visit Sleepy Hollow. 

Book your stay at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel and be within minutes of visiting Kykuit and the other historical sites around Sleepy Hollow