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“A modern gem” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center

Manitoga / The Russel Wright Design Center
Ranked #2 of 12 things to do in Garrison
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Attraction details
Owner description: MANITOGA / The Russel Wright Design Center preserves, protects and shares Russel Wright's modernist House, Studio and Woodland Garden as a masterful integration of design and nature, a powerful example of land reclamation, and a resource for inspired design in daily living through public tours, programs and events. MANITOGA is a National Historic Landmark, an Affiliate Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a World Monuments Watch Site. It is one of the few 20th century modern homes open to the public in New York State.
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
Level Contributor
158 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 194 helpful votes
“A modern gem”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 19, 2013

Manitoga is mid-century modern designer Russel Wright's personal estate and should be of interest to fans of landscape architecture as well fans as mid-century house tour fans. The grounds are exquisite, and the house offers a fascinating opportunity to visit a historic property as it undergoes renovation. I think it would be great to visit this attraction over and over and different times of the year to see how the seasons change the landscape, and it will also be interesting to watch the progress as the staff continues to restore the house. As other reviewers have mentioned, be sure to wear good hiking shoes, and bring your nerve, because Wright loved steep stone stairs and had little use for protective railings of any kind! The water was too high for us to cross the stone bridge at the end of the waterfall (the only place where a protective railing has been put in place for visitors' protection) and I was actually kind of glad, because even with a railing, the prospect was a bit scary! Also do be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank develbow
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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52 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
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English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
98 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“A Memorable Experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2013

From the 1930s through the 50s, Russel Wright, became one of the best known designers in the country. His creations marked a new era for home goods and let everyone know that it was time to toss out the sterling and live a simpler but still elegant lifestyle. When a department store announced a new shipment of his dinnerware or furniture, it created a frenzy with buyers who lined up early so as not to miss out. At the height of his career, Wright left NYC and moved his base of operations to Garrison. It was here that he designed and built a unique home and studio that he named Manitoga, the Algonquin words for Place of Great Spirit.
On a rainy day in May, we visited Manitoga taking the 90 minute tour that started with a very informative video about Wright, his craft and his vision of creating a residence and studio that would become 'as one' with the natural beauty of its lush and rugged surroundings.
We hiked up to the house, stopping frequently to learn about the foliage, see fabulous views and how Wright chose the sight to build his contemporary home. We saw the waterfall he created by moving massive boulders to divert the flow and form a lake where his family and visitors would swim. The house was amazing and took full advantage of its natural surroundings with massive windows that made inside from out nearly indistinguishable.
At the end of the tour, we took another path which had us walking on stones over water gushing down from the lake. Pretty scary but a great way to end our tour
This was the last 'home' on our road trip through the Hudson River Valley and a fitting stopping point having started with an over the top mansion and ending with this simple yet elegant mid-century modern structure. Don't miss it and plan ahead as tours are infrequent and accommodate a maximum of 12 people.

Visited May 2013
1 Thank eshattuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Caldwell, New Jersey
Level Contributor
80 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“A Treasure”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 21, 2013

We enjoyed a fantastic tour by Valeska (?), even in the pouring rain. A wonderful visit for anyone interested in architecture or design. Have lunch at Garrison Cafe or pick up lunch and picnic at Manitoga.

Visited September 2012
Thank a_couple_from
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Garrison, New York
Level Contributor
4 reviews
“Great Design in the Historical Home and Nature”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 13, 2012

Innovative Design History... and even more amazing Natural Nature modified to create Design History in the land all around it. The wonderful lake made from a stone mine the first of the contemporary homes designed and built by a major leader in design. Russel Wright comes to life all around you. What a gift to all who visit.

Visited September 2012
Thank johnfunck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Level Contributor
61 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Nice Tour and Hike”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 24, 2012

The Tour:
We did the 90-minute tour of Russel Wright's house and studio. It begins with a 15 minute video about the life of Russel Wright and his vision for Manitoga. A guide then takes you on an exclusive tour of the grounds and the house, pointing out interesting details that I would not have noticed on my own. The house itself is amazing, and it's interesting to see Wright's concepts of indoor/outdoor spaces applied first-hand. Pleasant way to spend a day off in the outdoors.

- Buy tickets in advance online, it seems like they sell out by midweek.
- The guide seems pretty strict concerning the number of people in the group and the timing. So show up on time with your reservation!
- Wear decent sneakers. The tour involves some stone stairs, may not be ideal for the elderly.

The Hike:
After the tour, we did the longest trail (the white trail). The trail is only about 2.5 miles, very easy (if you are in moderately good health). It took us a little over an hour, including a lazy lunch break. There are no amazing views (unless the trees are bare)... but It is a nice walk in the woods where you get to see Wright's personal touches.
- There are trail maps at the visitor center. However, the trail blazes are pretty clear so we were able to function without the map.
- Carry-in Carry-out
- There is a bathroom in the visitor center but it may be only open at the beginning of tours

Visited September 2012
1 Thank CondorBears
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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