Despite having lived within twenty miles of Sleepy Hollow for most of my life, I’d never done the usual historical/tourist things until last weekend. But I did visit the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (great tour by Aaron!) where we saw some older graves, great views and the Dark Shadows tomb. And then the Old Dutch Church and then off to Sunnyside, the home that Washington Irving built. Hal gave a fantastic tour there! he’s been doing it for fourteen years and has a deep knowledge about Irving and the time.
First off, it’s charming! A cottage with a mishmash of styles and designs. “Uncle Wash” had an eclectic style and a love of efficiency. A lot of closets and open cupboards that made life easier! Great light coming in the window, a piazza on the side, wonderful views (apparently much better before the train was built!) and more.
But also Washington Irving was also the first internationally bestselling author. He invented/popularized the use of pseudonyms, Gotham and Knickerbocker standing in for New York, the phrase “the almighty dollar”, the idea of Santa Claus in a sleigh over the city—he thought Saint Nicolas would be the perfect patron saint for New York City) and repopularized many English Christmas traditions. He fought against copyright violations of his books and pictures, he created one of the first viral marketing things for authors—he started a search for a missing “Diedrich Knickerbocker” and his lost manuscript that got newspapers and people involved and then published the book to great acclaim!
I have to admit, I mostly only remember “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” but I came back with a renewed interest in his other works.
Have you read much about Washington Irving?
Oh—and here is his favorite tree!