In 1836, when businessman William Backhouse Astor Sr. bought the Rokeby mansion in Dutchess County, N.Y. from his wife's family, it was a place of wonder. The 43-room home was filled with artwork, books and grand pianos -- all in relatively pristine condition. But today, the estate would almost be unrecognizable to him.
According to Alexandra Aldrich, who is one of the heirs of the estate, the outside of the home, has been a facade for years. Aldrich explains in her new memoir, “The Astor Orphan," that the estate has been crumbling for a long time. "It seemed to outsiders always to be an ideal place," she said in an interview with Ecco Books. "They would say 'Wow, I wish I grew up in a place like this.' And I always wanted them to take me home with them."
We first got a glimpse inside the house in 2010, when The New York Times profiled Richard Aldrich, who still lives there today. From those photos we can see unkempt bedrooms, chipped paint on walls and a hallway that acts as a storage for heirlooms.
And although it's worth noting that a house of this size is hardly an easy thing to maintain, and Aldrich does say there have been updates, she told the New York Post that the home still looks "rundown," to outsiders.
The condition of the house is visible in new images taken by Shannon DeCelle. But according to Aldrich, the family doesn't plan on ever selling the estate. “We will never sell it,” she told the Post. “My family is not interested in money. All of my cousins have been convinced that they should never sell. It’s part of our identities, part of who we are.”
Watch the video above to hear more from Aldrich, and click through our slideshow to see photos of the home now and from its glory days. Head over to The New York Times and the Daily Mail to read more. And be sure to read Aldrich's interview with the New York Post.
Clarification: This article originally stated the home was located in Hudson Valley, NY. To clarify, it is located in Barrytown in Dutchess County, which is in the Hudson Valley in New York state.
Do you have a home story idea or tip? Email us at email@example.com. (PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)