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Historic Rhinebeck Manse, Now A Ruin, Goes On Auction Block

Wyndeclyffe, the former Rhinebeck home of wealthy New York socialite Elizabeth Schmerhorn Jones, is going on the auction block this week.
Wyndeclyffe, the former Rhinebeck home of wealthy New York socialite Elizabeth Schmerhorn Jones, is going on the auction block this week. Photo Credit: Courtesy: Flickr user, joseph a.

RHINEBECK, N.Y. –Wyndclyffe, a once opulent Rhinebeck manse but now a gloomy ruin, will go on the block on Wednesday, Sept. 21, according to a report by The Poughkeepsie Journal.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has ordered the former home of wealthy New York socialite Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones be auctioned off at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott Hotel in East Elmhurst, The Poughkeepsie Journal report said.

The house was built in 1853 as a country home for Jones and her bachelor brother.

No expense was spared, and Jones’s neighbors nearly went bankrupt updating their own abodes so as not to be overshadowed – hence, the phrase, “Keeping up with the Joneses.”

The story of Wyndclyffe’s slow and painful decay seems to have sprung from the pen of Jones’s niece, Edith Wharton, an American writer known for her insightful wit and flair for dramatic irony.

The home was eluded to in several Wharton novels, including “A Backward Glance” and “Hudson River Bracketed.”

When Jones, who never married, died in 1876, Wyndclyffe was sold to another family who lived in it through the 1920s. But subsequent owners had a hard time keeping up with expenses and, by the 1950's, it was abandoned.

Eventually, the estate’s grounds were divvied up and the mansion itself fenced off on a two-acre parcel.

According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, someone with plans to restore the mansion bought Wyndclyffe in the early-2000s, but never followed through.

To see photos, and read more about Wyndclyffe, visit www.hudsonvalleyruins.org , a website maintained by photographer Rob Yasinac, a Tarrytown resident who has spent decades documenting the historic and distinctive architecture of the Hudson Valley.

Maltz Auctions, the company that is handling the sale, describes Wyndeclyffe as a “waterview mansion.”

According to its website, the castle-like building was designed by George Veitch, made of brick and slate, and once had nine bedrooms, five bathrooms and four fireplaces.

Its current market value is, Maltz’s said, is $312,900. It could not be learned Tuesday what Wyndclyffe originally cost to build.

To see Yasinac’s photos of Wyndclyffe, click here.

To read The Poughkeepsie Journal article, click here.

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