Day Trip From NYC
Stone Barns Center with a Matisse and Chagall Appetizer
One thing people living in New York City might not expect is how quickly the landscape turns rural once you drive a few miles away. The perfect example is the Stone Barns Center Farm. The farm is only 28 miles north of Midtown, yet it feels completely different. No traffic, the air is clean, the pace is slow.
First, some hidden art
I was driving up with my wife recently and just two miles before we got to the farm, she saw a church that she visited years before and recommended we go in and take a look. It was the Union Church of Pocatino Hills. The Rockefeller family used to attend this church when they were staying in their nearby estate, Kykuit. From the outside it looks like many other stone country churches, inside there is a unique story and surprise. I felt like we walked into a secret. Inside, I was immediately struck by the colorful and vibrant stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. The rose window above the altar is Henri Matisse's final artwork before his death in 1954. Admirers of Matisse's cut-outs might be surprised to see it here. We got a tour from a church docent who gave us the play by play on how it came to be. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. She was an admirer of Matisse and her son Nelson contacted him to work on the church's windows. At that time Matisse was in poor health and could not travel. He died shortly after figuring out the rose window. David Rockefeller spearheaded the Chagall commission of the Good Samaritan window and all eight nave windows. You can visit the church and get tours for $7 per person. No photos allowed (sorry Instagrammers, just take it in and enjoy).
On to Stone Barns Center....
Just up the road is the Stone Barns Center. Walking around a working farm that is set up for visitors was a unique experience for me. It was a very hands-off affair. You just stroll around wherever you want. In the gift shop we picked up a map and the girl at the counter told us where we might see piglets, but that they were probably hiding because of the heat that day. We did eventually see some pigs feeding. At first I thought they were cows. Grown pigs are much bigger than I expected! Their caretaker was calling them by name and they were *kinda* listening.
All in all, Stone Barns is a quick jaunt from the city. If you are looking to get off the grid in a hurry, I recommend driving up here to get some fresh air.
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