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    Laffin, MargaretVanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site: Monument to theGilded Age. Teaching with Historic Places.National Park Service (Dept. of Interior), Washington, DC.National Register of Historic Places.2000-00-0022p.

    Teaching with Historic Places, National Register of HistoricPlaces, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW, SuiteNC400, Washington, DC 20240. For full text: Classroom Teacher (052)MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.*Built Environment; Heritage Education; *Historic Sites;Primary Sources; Secondary Education; Social Studies;Student Educational Objectives; *United States HistoryGilded Age; *Hudson Valley; National Register of HistoricPlaces; Wealth

    By the turn of the 20th century, many wealthy families,including the Vanderbilts, had palatial houses along the Hudson River,between New York City and Albany (New York). In 1895, Frederick Vanderbilt,grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, built his country estateoverlooking the Hudson River in Hyde Park (New York). With more than 600acres of landscaped property and a palatial Beaux Arts mansion, the estatecame to symbolize the enormous wealth accumulated by a privileged few duringthe Gilded Age. This lesson plan is based on the National Register ofHistoric Places registration file for the Vanderbilt Mansion NationalHistoric Site and other source materials. The lesson can be used in U.S.history, social studies, and geography courses in units on the Gilded Age orthe nation's industrial and economic growth. The teacher materials sectionprovides general information, gives educational objectives for students,discusses visiting the site, lists supplementary resources, and describes howto use the lesson plans. The student materials section includes: "GettingStarted"; "Photograph Analysis Worksheet"; "Setting the Stage"; "Locating theSite" (Maps: New York State and surrounding region, Vanderbilt MansionNational Historic Site); "Determining the Facts" (Readings: Vanderbilt FamilyBeginnings, Vanderbilts' Hyde Park Mansion, Vanderbilts as Philanthropists);"Visual Evidence" (Photos: six photos with various views of the Vanderbiltmansion); and "Putting It All Together" (Activities: How the Other HalfLived, Researching Personalities from the Gilded Age, Philanthropy in theLocal Community). (BT)

    Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be madefrom the original document.

  • Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site:0, Monument to the Gilded Age. Teaching

    with Historic Places.

    Margaret LaffinFay Metcalf, Editor

    National Park Service (Dept. of Interior),Washington, DC. Cultural Resources




    Office of Educational Research and ImprovementE 4JCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION

    CENTER (ERIC)EJ This document has been reproduced as

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    Points of view or opinions stated in thisdocument do not necessarily representofficial OERI position or policy.

  • FIT1=A=11

    'A 9 Lesson Plan Series


    Historic Places

    ET ogram SC(1@ ation Park Service Nationa Register Historic Places

    Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site:Monument to the Gilded Age

    National Park Service

    With spectacular views of the Hudson River aswell as the Catskill and Shawangunk Mountains, theHudson River valley has much to offer both residentsand visitors. By the turn of the 20th century, manywealthy families, including the Vanderbilts, hadbuilt palatial houses along the Hudson, betweenNew York City and Albany. The Hudson River heldspecial significance for the Vanderbilts. In the early1800s, Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt laid thefoundation for the Vanderbilt fortune when he begana ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan.

    Later, the family's New York Central Railroad ranalong the Hudson. In 1895, Frederick Vanderbilt,grandson of the Commodore, built his countryestate overlooking the river in Hyde Park, New York.With more than 600 acres of landscaped propertyand a palatial Beaux-Arts mansion, the Hyde Parkestate came to symbolize the enormous wealthaccumulated by a privileged few during the GildedAge. Today, the Vanderbilts' Hyde Park home ispreserved as Vanderbilt Mansion National HistoricSite.

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  • ContentsTeacher MaterialsAbout This Lesson Plan

    Where it fits into the curriculumObjectives for studentsVisiting the siteSupplementary resources

    How to Use TwHP Lesson Plans

    Student MaterialsGetting StartedPhotograph Analysis WorksheetSetting the StageLocating the Site

    Map 1: New York State and surroundingregion

    Map 2: Vanderbilt Mansion NationalHistoric Site

    Determining the FactsReading 1: The Vanderbilt Family

    BeginningsReading 2: The Vanderbilts' Hyde Park

    MansionReading 3: The Vanderbilts as

    PhilanthropistsVisual Evidence

    Photo 1: Vanderbilt Mansion underconstruction, 1895

    Photos 2 and 3: Views of theVanderbilt Mansion today

    Drawing 1: Floor plans of the VanderbiltMansion

    Photo 4: Louise Vanderbilt's bedroomPhoto 5: The Vanderbilt dining roomPhoto 6: The Pavilion

    Putting It All TogetherActivity 1: How the Other Half LivedActivity 2: Researching Personalities

    from the Gilded AgeActivity 3: Philanthropy in the Local













    About Mils Lesson FlanThis lesson is based on the National Register ofHistoric Places registration file for the VanderbiltMansion National Historic Site and other sourcematerials. Materials on pages 1-16 are designed tobe removed and duplicated for students. (See backpage for more instructions.) Vanderbilt Mansionwas written by Margaret Laffin, Interpretive Park

    Ranger at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National HistoricSite. The lesson was edited by Fay Metcalf, educationconsultant, and the Teaching with Historic Placesstaff. For information on other TwHP lessons, visitthe program's Web site at

    Where the lesson fits into the curriculumTopics: The lesson could be used in U.S. history,

    social studies, and geography courses in units onthe Gilded Age or America's industrial and economicgrowth. Vanderbilt Mansion will help studentsunderstand the possibilities for wealth in an agebefore income taxes and government regulation ofbusiness and industry. The lesson focuses on theVanderbilt family and their rise to become one ofthe wealthiest families in America.

    Time period: 1865-1900.

    Objectives for studentsTo define the Gilded Age and describe the factors

    that permitted the Vanderbilts and other familiesto amass huge fortunes.

    To examine the lifestyle associated with thewealthy elite of the Gilded Age.

    To consider the influence the Vanderbilt familyhad on the Hudson valley region.

    To describe and discuss Frederick and LouiseVanderbilt's philanthropic efforts.

    To conduct research on important people in theircommunity during the Gilded Age.

    To consider how their community benefits fromphilanthropic activities.

    Visiting the siteVanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site,

    administered by the National Park Service, is locatedon Route 9 in the town of Hyde Park, New York. Formore information, contact the Superintendent,Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site, 519Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, New York 12538, orvisit the park's Web site at

    Supplementary resourcesStudents (or educators) wishing to learn more

    about the Vanderbilt family may want to read: WilliamA. Croffut, The Vanderbilts and the Story of TheirFortune (Salem, N.H.: Ayer Company, 1985); JohnForeman and Robbe Pierce Stimson, The Vanderbiltsand the Gilded Age: Architectural Aspirations, 1879-1901 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991); and ArthurVanderbilt II, Fortune's Children (New York: Morrow,1989).

    4 (continued on inside back cover)

  • GettingStarted

    For what purpose do you think this structure was built?When might it have been constructed?



  • PhotographAnalysis


    Step 1Examine the photograph for 10 seconds. How wouldyou describe the photograph?

    Step 2Divide the photograph into quadrants and studyeach section individually. What details--suchas people, objects, activities--do you notice?

    Step 3What other information--such as time period, location,season, reason photograph was taken--can you gatherfrom the photograph?

    Step 4How would you revise your first description of thephotograph using the information noted in steps 2 and 3?

    Step 5What questions do you have about the photograph?How might you find answers to these questions?


  • Locatingthe Site

    Map 1: New York State and surrounding region.

    In 1895, Frederick Vanderbilt (grandson of the Commodore) and his wife Louise purchaseda 600-acre estate in Hyde Park, New York, for use during the spring and fall social seasonsand an occasional winter weekend. When the existing house on the property proved unsound,the Vanderbilts demolished it and constructed a new house on the same spot, high on a hillalong the banks of the Hudson River. Aside from its stunning views of the H