Completed in 1851, for Franklin Hughes Delano (1813-1893)
and his wife Laura Eugenia Astor (1824–1902)
. Enjoying dramatic views over the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, the large, brick, Tuscan-style mansion with its square tower in the center remained in the Delano family until 1967. The next owner, W.S. Wasserman
, dramatically remodelled it and having been known as "Steen Valetje" and "Mandara," it then became known as the "Atalanta Estate". The old iron gates, estate walls, and the park landscape remain as they were back in the Delano days. Today, the 28-room, 17,000 square foot mansion on 290-acres is on the market for $22 million....
This house is best associated with...
Laura (Astor) Delano
Mrs Laura Eugenia (Astor) Delano, of Steen Valetje, New York; died without children
Frankin Hughes Delano
Franklin H. Delano, of Steen Valetje, Rhinebeck New York
Warren Delano IV
Warren Delano IV, of Steen Valetje, New York; President of the Delano Coal Co.
Lyman Delano of "Mandara" (Steen Valetje) New York
William Stix Wasserman
William S. Wasserman, Financier, of 895 Park Avenue & Red Hook, New York
Mrs Laura (Astor) Delano
was said to have been the favorite grandchild of John Jacob Astor
, the founder of the Astor family fortune. She was married in 1844 and four years later her father, William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875)
, gifted the young couple the southernmost portion of his estate, Rokeby
, that amounted to 95-acres. The following year, work started on their new home while they lived at Laura's childhood home in New York, the Astor House
on Lafayette Place. Once their mansion was complete, Astor gave the couple a further 5-acre plot of land to round up his gift to an even 100 acres.Steen Valetje
The Delanos gave their new home the Dutch name of "Steen Valetje" ("small stony creek") for the small brook that once divided the estate of Laura's ancestor, Henricus Beekman (1652-1716), from that of his neighbour, Pieter Schuyler (1657-1724). Today, the brook marks the boundary between the townships of Rhinebeck and Red Hook.
Laura's brother, Henry Astor III (1830-1918)
, had been given 142-acres next to Steen Valetje, but he conveyed this land to her in 1873 after retiring from society due to his marriage that had been met with unmitigated disapproval from the rest of his family.
Two years later, her husband doubled the estate's holdings through the purchase of the 254-acre Feller-Benner farm, immediately to its south. The landscaped gardens of Steen Valetje were laid out by Hans Jacob Ehlers in 1849 who had also been employed at the same time by the Astors to carry out improvements to Rokeby
. On the grounds of their estate, the Delanos raised prized Norwegian ponies and Aberdeen Angus cattle.
The Delanos were childless and spent much of their later years in the warmer climes of Italy and Monte Carlo. When Franklin died at Monte Carlo in 1893, Laura chose to remain in Europe and gifted Steen Valetje to their nephew, Warren Delano IV (1852-1920)
, President of the Delano Coal Company. Warren was the maternal uncle and something of a mentor to his famous nephew, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
, the 32nd President of the United States who was so named for the builder of Steen Valetje. In 1894, Warren moved into his new estate with his wife Jennie Walters (1853-1922)
, whose father and brother had co-founded the Walters Art Museum in their native Baltimore.
Warren grew up nearby at his father's country place, Algonac
, and long had a passion for horses. On inheriting Steen Valetje he was able to realize his dream to become a breeder. In 1906, he imported the first stallion and six mares of the Norwegian Fjord variety ever to tread on American soil. Tragically, it was his passion that led to his death in 1920, when one of his horses bolted into the path of an oncoming train at Barrytown.Mandara
Steen Valetje passed to Warren's eldest surviving son, Lyman Delano (1883-1944), and he moved in with his wife Leila Burnett (1886-1966). They undertook extensive works on the house, giving it a neo-Georgian facelift and renaming it "Mandara". Their son, Warren Delano V (1910-1948), was banned from Rokeby
when he spiked the punch with his best friend, Richard Chanler Aldrich (1909-1961), at a party given by his mother!
In 1949, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
, the wife of Lyman's famous first cousin (Franklin Delano Roosevelt
), visited Lyman's widow at Steen Valetje, and reflected that, "in spite of being built in the Victorian era, (it) has more real charm and sense of being a house where people have lived and really understood and loved their possessions than some houses where you have a feeling that a perfectly impersonal decorator was called in to hang the curtains and lay the rugs and choose and place the furniture". The Atalanta Estate
In 1967, a year after the death of Mrs Leila Delano, the estate was sold to financier William Stix Wasserman
who repaired, refurnished and replanted the estate, though in the course of doing so dramatically altered its appearance by removing three brick towers and all the wooden verandahs. In 1977, Wasserman hosted the first annual meeting of Hudson River Heritage. In 2014, "Atalanta" was put on the market for $22 million.