Olana, a National Historic Landmark and State Historic Site in Hudson, New York, embodies the American spirit and aesthetic of the second half of the 19th century, when its creator, Frederic Edwin Church, constructed an earthly paradise on a bank of America’s Rhineland, the Hudson River.
Olana, with its eclectic architectural style and exuberant colors textures, and towers; Olana with its intact interior and artist’s studio filled with Church’s paintings, furnishings and collections, Olana, a cohesive landscape of fields, farm, woodlands, lake and carriage drives, is America’s Giverny. Surrounded still by farmland as old or older than Olana itself, and close to a small city up the river that has survived the 20th century with most of its 19th century buildings intact, Olana transports us to another time. Here, we walk into and through an actual Church landscape, awed by the gorgeous skyscape and its ever-changing, spectacular atmospheric effects. From the bell tower of the villa, the visitor is surrounded by a 360- degree panorama, bound by the majestic Catskill mountains to the West, the Hudson River to the South and North and the Taconics to the East. Some of the 20th century encroaches, most notably the Rip Van Winkle Bridge that crosses the Hudson slightly to the North. But Olana survives, a remarkable place, brought to life by a remarkable artist, from a remarkable time in America's past. The book, Saving Olana, will tell the story of how that survival almost did not happen.