Craft House Client, Troutbeck, Featured In Forbes
It’s a rare country inn that can hang a letter from Martin Luther King on its walls but the copy of that 1957 letter displayed in each of the rooms at Troutbeck gives a hint of the rich history that took place here over the decades.
By Laurie Werner, Forbes
The 18th-century estate in New York's Hudson Valley had hosted major figures in American political life and literature while in the possession of its first two owners. The third owner turned it into an inn and conference center. But it had been closed for ten years when the fourth and current owner Anthony Champalimaud took over in 2016, enlisted his mother, the world famous designer Alexandra Champalimaud and his wife Charlie and spent a year restoring and redesigning. Revitalized, the estate reopened late last year.
From the beginning, all three were drawn to the estate’s place in social history: the first owner Myron Benton hosted important literary friends such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson here. The second owner Joel Spingarn, co-founder of the publishing house Harcourt Brace & Company and one of the founders of the NAACP, and his wife Amy had friends such as Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall and author and activist W.E.B.Dubois over and hosted groundbreaking conferences here. Spingarn also established the Spingarn Medal honoring outstanding achievement by an African American; Dr. King, a recipient, wrote the letter exhibited on the wall to thank him. Theodore Roosevelt was also a frequent guest; guests who now stay in room 8 are in his favorite room.
Given this background, the trio were intent on modernizing the houses—the main 17 room Manor House and separate 16 room Century Lodge and Annex and four room Garden House—while maintaining the house’s spirit. When he first took over, Anthony says, the design was a combination of dark wood and florals, “as if Ethan Allen and Laura Ashley had had a child,” he says. They resisted the temptation to overdo the history by putting in all period furniture and oil paintings, instead going for clean line fourposters and walls painted sienna, teal, olive green left unadorned in the bedrooms, classic pieces such as a leather Chesterfield couch and velvet sling back arm chairs in the Living Room along with some pieces sourced locally and lighting fixtures designed by Alexandra. The result is a fresh, comfortable feeling within an historical setting, as if you’re staying in a friend’s house.
There are a number of activities possible without leaving the 45 acre property, from fishing for trout on the Webutuck River which runs through the grounds to hiking, playing tennis on the two U.S. Open surface courts, doing yoga or pilates or simply lazing in one of the hammocks scattered near the creek. There’s a pool that recently opened to the public for Friday night gatherings (it’s for guests and members only for the rest of the weekend.) And the refreshed facilities are once again housing events, particularly weddings either outdoors on the lawns or in the 3500 square foot ballroom.
For those who want to venture farther afield, the hotel’s location just outside of the town of Amenia places it within easy driving distance of the wineries and horse farms of Millbrook, the charming towns of Connecticut’s Litchfield County and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. On any night in the inn’s dining room, some residents of those areas have come here for the farm to table New American dishes. Rental cars are available for those who want to explore and haven’t brought their own. There is no need to: it’s possible to get here by an easy two hour train ride and a six minute taxi ride from the station. It’s also rare for a place so deep in the serene countryside to be able to say that.