SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Famous artists from around the world for decades have come to Yaddo searching for inspiration — and on Sunday, the private artist’s retreat was open to the public.
The opportunity to tour several buildings on the 450-acre property was too great for many to miss, and all 1400 tickets for the tours held Sunday sold out.
"This is a rare opportunity to see a national treasure," said Kelly D’Andrea after touring the property. "I just wish I had brought more people. I would love to show more of my friends how perfect it is here."
The gardens are open to the public daily, but the historic Yaddo Mansion and other sites on the private portion of the estate have not been open since 2003. They have only been open to the public five times in their nearly 120-year history.
The estate is closed to the public to ensure "good working conditions" for the more than 200 artists who are invited each year to spend two weeks to two months there.
"It’s wonderful that the buildings can be open," said Yaddo spokeswoman Lesley Leduc. "There are many very important parts of the buildings; of course, our collection of Tiffany stained glass windows is remarkable."
Four two-hour tours on Sunday included the first and second floors of the Yaddo Mansion, the first floor of West House, Pigeon Barn Studios, and the Barhyte grave site.
The tours served as a fundraiser for Yaddo, and organizers believe more than $65,000 will be raised between ticket and shop sales. The money will support Yaddo’s artist residency program and repairs to structures in the Yaddo Gardens.
More than 150 volunteers were needed to open the grounds, many of whom are members of the garden association, like Kathleen Stanko.
"I am glad to be able to help. We are so fortunate to have this in our backyard, and events like this help make sure we continue to have it," Stanko said.
For the public, even just a few hours on the Yaddo grounds made it clear why 900 artists apply each year for the 220 spots.
"I like to think of myself as an artist," said Susan Murphy of Saratoga Springs. "And you can see how inspiring this place could be; you can feel the presence and spirit of all great artists before us to use the space."