Atalanta, an irreplaceable Hudson River Mansion on the Grand Scale of its neighbors north and south, was erected in 1851 of brick and stone to the plans of noted British architect Frank Wills. It evinces fulsome and artful details derived from his vast renown in ecclesiastical design. Its Italianate articulation had Romanesque flourishes of great power. Its purpose was to provide both a splendid river view and elegant living for the expected large family of Franklin Hughes Delano (for whom his great nephew FDR was named) and his bride Laura Eugenia Astor, daughter to William Backhouse Astor, then, upon the decease of his father J.J. Astor in 1848, the richest man in America. He gifted the house parcel (95 acres) that same year from his own 724 acre "Rokeby" to the north as a wedding present. The estate was augmented in 1873 when Laura acquired her brother's 142 acres to the north and again in 1875 when Franklin acquired the 254 acre Palatine Feller-Benner Farm to the south.
Known during its 133 years in Astor/Delano ownership as "Steen Valetje"(little stone valley) for the so-named creek that runs through the property just south of the Main House, its sumptuous interior spaces (16,600+ s.f.) include commodious Public Rooms with 18' ceilings that exhibit frescoes, exquisite fretwork and marble fireplaces with delicately carved surrounds (there are 16). These public rooms have oak and mahogany parquet floors, and often French doors that open to River Terraces and Porticoes. The house affords 10 generously proportioned bed rooms (several are ensuite), 10 full and 3 half baths, a Formal wainscoted and architraved Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase with its domed and frescoed skylight and adjoining Upstairs Hall, also with its companion domed and frescoed skylight.
British and NY architect Thomas Stent (the NY Public Library and Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Canada) designed the major replacement of the southern extension, with Grand Living Room/Ballroom (42' x 26') and Galleries, of Steen Valetje and other interior embellishments for Franklin Hughes Delano in 1881.
The present day 290 acre Atalanta is surrounded on its northern and eastern sides by lands owned by or under easement with Scenic Hudson. The western boundary lies a ways into the eastern waters of the Hudson River. The main entrance from River Road is via a stone pillared gate and arch windowed and hip roofed Gatehouse designed by Walter Schickles & Co. c. 1878. Building on the plans and landscape work of German-trained arborist to royalty Hans Jacob Ehlers (1804-1858) and his son Louis, known for their Picturesque designs at both Rokeby and Montgomery Place directly to the north and the Vanderbilt Estate and Marienruh to the south, Atalanta now enjoys ancient lanes and lawns with stately oaks and other now mature specimen trees. A greenhouse, seven barns including a handsome 1875 brick Carriage Barn designed by Arthur B. Jennings, a stunning Pool and Doric Temple Poolhouse, nearby Tennis Court, walking and bridle trails, woods and fields, four mostly antique and discreetly elegant Guesthouses, lush formal and informal gardens and three ponds adumbrate further the Picturesque nomenclature that now includes a 400' x 85' heated indoor riding arena, outdoor dressage ring, proud new horse barn and paddocks.
It is rare indeed to find a superlative estate of this scale, pedigree and careful stewardship set amongst such a string of pearls of patrician homes bearing names of those families that brought America to star on the world stage.