Fans of art history and the Hudson River School of painting should plan a trip to one of the gems of the Hudson River Valley, the home of Jasper F. Cropsey (1823-1900), named Ever Rest, and its associated Gallery of Art, in Hastings-on-Hudson. Preserved over the years through a combination of first tragedy, then chance that in hindsight appears as fate, and lastly personal devotion, Ever Rest offers today’s visitor an oasis of peacefulness, beauty, and creative inspiration.
Jasper and his wife Maria bought the house at 49 Washington Ave. in 1885 or 1886, when Jasper was still an active painter but on the downside of his career. Considered part of the second generation of the Hudson River School of painters, Jasper found fame and fortune beginning in the mid-1840s and extending into the mid- to late-1860s. But tastes changed following the Civil War, and whereas Cropsey’s “Autumn on the Hudson River” met with acclaim in 1860, his “The Old Mill” failed to sell after being exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, a fate that was to be repeated following its exhibition at the St. Louis Exposition the next year, despite Cropsey having reduced the price from $7,000 to $2,500.
Unfortunately, it was at precisely the same time that tastes in the world of painting were changing that Cropsey and his wife Maria bought 45 acres of land in Warwick, NY and began construction on their dream summer home, a 29-room mansion equipped with artist’s studio and separate buildings to house servants and staff. The house, designed by Cropsey and named Aladdin, served as a summer retreat for Jasper and Maria until 1884, when they were forced to sell it and auction off most of its contents.
Following the sale of Aladdin, Jasper and Maria rented a house in Hastings-on-Hudson, and subsequently bought the house at 49 Washington Ave. that would be their home for the rest of their lives. Unable to afford continued studio space in New York City, Jasper designed and had built a studio space attached to Ever Rest, where he continued to paint.
To supplement his diminished income from painting Jasper worked as an architect, which had been his initial training as a young man before devoting his energy to painting. Cropsey’s talent, highly-regarded name, and connections with wealthy patrons won him commissions, the most publicly prominent of which was a project begun in 1878 to design the first station on the Manhattan Elevated Railway line that ran up 6th Avenue in Manhattan. This initial design was eventually replicated to fourteen stations built for this line.
The chain of events that would result in the house at 49 Washington Ave. remaining in the family until 1970 and then being converted into the historic site we enjoy today began in tragedy in 1892, when Jasper and Maria’s daughter Rose and Rose’s husband Conrad were killed in a train accident. Rose and Conrad’s two daughters, Isabel and Constance, came to Ever Rest, where Jasper and Maria took care of them. Following Jasper’s death in 1900 and Maria’s in 1906, Ever Rest was inherited by their granddaughter Isabel, who lived there the rest of her life. Isabel’s husband, William Steinschneider, lived in the house until his death in 1970, whereupon Isabel and William’s daughter Barbara Newington led the way in having Ever Rest placed on the Register of Historic Places and in creating the Newington-Cropsey Foundation, which now oversees the property.
In 1994 the Newington-Cropsey Foundation opened the neighboring Gallery of Art, which houses most of the Foundation’s holdings of Jasper Cropsey’s art. Both the house and the gallery are available for tours, by appointment, on weekdays. Tours are free.