Friday, May 28, 2021

Sonnenberg Gardens

150 years ago a wealthy woman, Mary Clark Thompson, built a summer home in Canandaigua. Situated on 150 acres of bucolic land the home has not only a 40-room mansion but 15 separate outdoor gardens. I visited the property yesterday (Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion); it's overwhelmingly beautiful.

Mary, the daughter of a Governor of New York State, married the man who founded Citibank. The couple lived in NYC and had, in today's money, $300 million to play with. And no children. After their deaths, a relative sold the property to the government; it was later turned into a historic park. Now ordinary folk like me can wander and enjoy its delights.

The mansion is full of art from around the world. Unusual for the time Mary collected Japanese and Chinese art. While admiring what I thought was wallpaper depicting birds I realized, on closer examination, it is actually oil painting covering the entire wall. (Photo attached.) Similarly I saw what looks like a small castle in the garden and learned it was actually an aviary where Mary kept hundreds of expensive exotic birds. Receipts on display show Mary spent a million bucks buying rare birds.

Interesting side-note: Mary had a ticket for the ill-fated Titanic voyage but cancelled her trip at the last minute to attend a flower show. Lucky girl!


  1. Wow, what a stunning place! That "wallpaper" painting is amazing.

  2. A place after my own heart, which I would love to visit! Thank you for sharing Ally xxx

  3. Imagine having so much money! I think people like this do us a service by showcasing what is possible. Especially when opened for the public to see. When else would we see such things? It opens the mind up to possibilities we may not see in our everyday bread and butter life.
    PS Have you cut your hair or is it tied back?
    xo JJ

    1. You're right that unlimited resources gives us a look at what's possible. I hope to experience that myself someday. (Go Bitcoin!)

      I cut my hair a few weeks ago. It was done on a spur-of-the-moment impulse. I realized I can always grow it back (which I will) so the decision didn't feel irrevocable. Thanks for noticing.

  4. What a magnificent mansion! I love your happy smile in the last pic.

  5. Beguilingly gorgeous location - nearly as lovely, my friend, as the mile-wide smile you're flashing us in that last photo.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life