Glynwood History: A Weekend Getaway

The Perkins family bought Glynwood in 1924, turning its 2,600 acres into a family compound and diversified farm. Their vision set the stage for Glynwood today.

After George Perkins II, a top aide to Theodore Roosevelt and the first president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, died of a heart attack in 1920, his wife, Evelina, their son George III and daughter-in-law Linn Merck Perkins (whose father, George Merck, was president of the pharmaceuticals giant Merck & Co.) began looking for a weekend and warm-weather getaway. Through a member of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, where George III was commissioner, they found a large and spectacularly wooded 2600-acre parcel in Cold Spring. Evelina bought the property, which had ponds, streams, a post-and-beam barn and a working dairy, in 1924. It was christened Glynwood, combining snippets of the new residents’ names.

Linn Merck Perkins.

The land, once the territory of the Wappinger clan of the Munsee Native American Nation, has a terrain of bedrock, mainly gneiss with granite and schistose tossed in, making it a challenge to farm crops. Along with the barn and silos, the property included a creamery and sheep house, sheds and clapboard houses for the foreman and dairyman. An ice house stored blocks harvested from the frozen ponds in winter.

George III added chicken coops, horse stables and houses for the superintendent and poultryman, each with a woodshed. “We needed that wood as well as the ice,” says Anne Perkins Cabot, his daughter. “We didn’t have electricity when we moved in.”

Until they could build their own homes, the three generations of Perkins (George III and Linn had three children, Anne, George Jr. and Penny) took up residence together in the existing farmhouse, dubbing it the Old House. “It’s the way we named everything,” says Penny Perkins Wilson. “When we built the new lake in 1930, it was the Big Lake and the other was the Small Lake. We had two horses, Old Boy and Old Girl.”

Evelina wanted a room with a view, so sited her house on a hilltop overlooking the Highlands. She had it crafted of fieldstone with cut-stone sills, double-hung windows with shutters and copper gutters. The floors were sturdy pegged oak, the ceiling open beam. There were fireplaces in the kitchen and living room, and two porches for optimal outdoor access. Her grandchildren, after a family trip to Europe, started calling it Ganna Baita—baita means “mountain hut” in Basque—and it’s still called that today.

George III eventually grew the Glynwood herd of purebred Guernsey cows to 80 head, and Linn gave them flowery names like Wild Rose, Spring Daisy and Larkspur. Their rich golden milk was sold on a milk route and delivered during the week to Glyndor, the family’s estate in Riverdale, along with fresh eggs from the farm’s hens. Chickens, turkeys, pheasant and guinea fowl were raised, along with sheep. In the 1930s, beehives were added and an apple orchard was planted down the hill from the main house.

Penny, George, Jr. and Anne dove into Glynwood life. “We had ponies—Ginny, Mousey and Tony the Pony,” Anne recalls. “There were Western horses, a carriage horse, riding horses and a buckboard that we drove around in once in a while. We rode and rode and rode. We played in the barn’s hayloft and rode in the hay wagons. It was a very idyllic time.”

In the garden near the main house, Linn and her gardener picked flowers and vegetables. In the fall, apples were pressed for cider and made into apple wine. “I remember sitting in the kitchen helping to shell peas and clean fruit and everything we’d harvested from the garden,” says Penny’s daughter, Suzanne Wilson, now a Montana cattle rancher immersed in conservation efforts. “We took walks in the woods, making note of all the trees and plants. When we traveled out West, it was always about wildflowers and nature. My mother taught us that.”

The Perkins’s love and respect for nature seeped down through the generations, paving the way for the work Glynwood continues today.

Known as our Farm Office and the site of our winter CSA pick-ups, this building is still affectionately called The Dairy.

 


Join Us at Our 20th Anniversary Farm Gala

Held on our farm, this magical night of great food, festivity and philanthropy brings together our beneficiaries, supporters, friends and the greater community. Guests leave with a strong sense of the work we are doing to help agriculture thrive in the Hudson Valley.