When you’re worn out, pack it all out – especially your trash. It’s a no-frills thrill: no bathroom facilities, no concessions, no toboggans, no snowboards and no sleds with metal runners allowed. (Plastic and inflatable sledding equipment is preferred to protect the lawn under all that snow.) Guests of the Mills family had to rough it, and so do we.
There is no fee for the designated parking lot nearby, and the surrounding view is fantastic in winter. Catching glimpses of the Mansion might spark your interest in finding out more about the history of the family who built it. Since 1988, Friends of the Mills Mansion have been working behind the scenes to support the preservation, improvement and development of the structure and its surrounds, including the production of educational programs, the development of a research library, the sponsorship of landscape and curatorial surveys and the hosting of special events throughout the year for members and the general public. (If you missed “A Gilded Age Christmas” last month, put it on your social calendar for this year.)
Friends of Mills Mansion membership runs from $20 for students up to $5,000 for a lifetime adult membership, giving you free admission to the Mansion, invitations to members-only events and a 20 percent discount in the Museum store, among other privileges. You might become so intrigued that the opportunity to volunteer appeals. From April through October, a staff of volunteers assists in guided tours, in the Museum store, in the Food Wagon, in general hospitality, at special events, in specialty areas and in the administrative office. On a 192-acre historic Beaux-Arts estate, there is always something to attend to, and volunteering is a great way to immerse yourself in the lavish relics of another era.
Or you can just go sledding for nothing. Either way, you should note that from January to March, Mansion tours run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekend. (The last tour begins one half-hour before closing.) Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, students and groups, and children under age 12 are free. Call the Park management at (845) 889-4646 for further information, and check www.staatsburgh.org to learn more about the Staatsburgh State Historic Site.