On July 26, 2018, the National Trust and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) announced the expansion of The Pocantico Center with the addition of the “Playhouse,” a large Tudor-style building built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 as a venue for family recreation and events. The expansion also includes several guest houses and their surrounding land from the historic Rockefeller estate.
At the bequest of David Rockefeller, who passed away in March 2017 at the age of 101, the properties will join Kykuit (the historic home of John D. Rockefeller and one of the National Trust’s Historic Sites), managed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as part of The Pocantico Center. In addition to Kykuit, the Center currently encompasses the Marcel Breuer House, the Coach Barn, the Orangerie, and the encircling gardens and landscapes.
“Saving, using, and sharing historic properties like Kykuit and now the nearby Playhouse and Guest Houses help us to understand and appreciate the past, engage with the complex issues that define our present, and come together in a beautiful space to imagine and create a better future,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, CEO of the National Trust. “With a 70-year reputation for excellence in stewardship, the National Trust is honored to protect these historic places and committed to the long-term sustainability and success of both these properties and the entire Historic Hudson Valley. We are deeply indebted to the Rockefeller family for this remarkable gift, just the latest in their exceptional multi-generational commitment to preserving America’s past.”
The Pocantico Center hosts philanthropic and public programs of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that have local, national, and global impact. The Center’s multidisciplinary artist residencies host dozens of dancers, musicians, playwrights, poets, and visual artists each year. Since 1994, Pocantico has also hosted more than a thousand conferences, meetings, and retreats for nonprofit and public-sector initiatives. The Center has been the site of high-level diplomatic agreements, the birthplace of social movements, and the breeding ground for ideas and research that drive progress on issues from voting rights to climate change.
These new properties will allow The Pocantico Center to expand their programming. In the future, the Playhouse will provide increased rehearsal and meeting space to support cultural performances, conferences, presentations, and other public programs; tours will be offered by special request. The Guest Houses will dramatically increase the Center’s capacity for artist residencies and, for the first time, will create the possibility of concurrent programming.
The Playhouse at Pocantico has long served as the Rockefeller family seat, and the more than 270 members of the Rockefeller family today will continue to gather there twice annually under a lease with the National Trust. Before his death, David Rockefeller and other members the family established a fund to support the preservation and maintenance of the storied family building.
“For over a century, the Rockefeller family has found a home in Pocantico Hills and the surrounding community, for which we will always feel deep respect, gratitude, and love,” said David Rockefeller, Jr. “It was there that my father and his brothers cultivated their passions: the environment, historic preservation, international engagement, and the arts. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, founded in a meeting at the Playhouse, is one way in which their extraordinary legacy lives on. It seems only fitting, then, that my father would leave this place, which nurtures each of these passions, under the care of the Fund for both the local community and the global good.”