Boscobel Makes Things Homey

Organizes ice cream social, invites the neighbors

By Alison Rooney

Has Boscobel been too stately for its own good?

That’s a question that Jennifer Carlquist, the newly appointed executive director, and the staff of the Federalist mansion and grounds in Garrison have been asking themselves. She says she wants visitors “to come back again and again, to feel a welcoming spirit.”

What better way to do that than ice cream, which is at the center of a new event this season? From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, Boscobel will host an ice cream social, featuring unusual flavors popular more than 200 years ago, around the time when the treat was first served at the White House. It’s also about the time that the mansion’s construction began in 1804, at its original site, 15 miles to the south.

Boscobel hopes to see more local children on its lawn. (Photo provided)

Fancy a cup of parmesan or apricot? How about Ice Creamed Oyster, a delicacy purported to have been popular at functions held by Thomas Jefferson and Dolley Madison (a tale debunked by other accounts, in a split decision of sources)?

They’ll all be available, provided by Jane’s Ice Cream, along with standbys such as chocolate and vanilla. “Ice cream was the chic dessert of the early 1800s,”  says Carlquist. “Our ice cream social is one of several programs this year that combine fun and history and share Boscobel in entirely new ways.”

The event will feature period lawn games and the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet playing songs from the era, and the mansion will be open to explore. Tickets are $22 for adults ($17 for members) and $13 for children ($11 for members). Children younger than 5 are admitted free. See boscobel.org.

Lauren Daisley, Boscobel’s communications manager, says the June 30 event is one way the site is reframing its mission to have more of local presence.

“This is a place where our community belongs,” says Daisley. “We welcome feedback; we want a relationship.”

Boscobel’s lawn invites exploring — and ice cream eating. (Photo provided)

To that end, Boscobel has instituted a “pay-what-you-wish” entrance fee on Saturdays, for instance, to encourage people to bring guests.

Landscape tours offered each Saturday at 11:30 a.m. also will be pay-as-you-wish. During the 45-minute walk, a guide will offer commentary on the architecture, natural history, inhabitants and importance that the site held for Gen. George Washington and Benedict Arnold, the Hudson River School artists and environmentalists.

On the second Saturday of each month, Lisa DiMarzo, Boscobel’s museum educator, will lead a family focused tour. The theme on July 14 will be “designing with shapes,” but there will be different crafts and activities each time, so families are encouraged to return. Also, groups can have tours tailored to their needs and interests. For example, the site recently provided a tactile experience for a group of legally blind visitors.

This year, too, for the first time, the house will be open for visitors during all programs, as well as for patrons arriving to picnic before Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival performances, which take place on the grounds.

Other changes include the hiring of a director of development, the addition of more items to the gift shop that were made in the Hudson Valley, and the launching of a free online database of images of items in the Boscobel collection.

Boscobel, at 1601 Route 9D, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. The rain date for the ice cream social is July 1.

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