Dragon Rock

Manitoga: Nature and Architecture in Perfect Harmony

Garrison – At the top of a winding driveway off Route 9D in Garrison sits 75 acres of woodland gardens and modern architecture, the realized vision of the late industrial designer Russell Wright. He acquired the property, which had been a quarry and logging site, in 1942, and it took nearly 20 years to complete the work.

A Melding of Design

Among the tasks undertaken, a stream was diverted to create a 30-foot waterfall and fill the rock quarry. It is here, along the sharp rock ledges, Wright built the house and studio, which he named Dragon Rock. Both structures appear to rise out of the landscape, creating a seamless transition between modernist architecture and the surrounding environment. A carpet of grass and plants cover the roof of the studio nearly camouflaging it as one walks the path around the pond to the house. Boulders, stone terraces and rock stairways blend the interior architecture with the surrounding landscape with walls of windows further blurring these lines. Within the home and studio, Wright used natural elements along with manmade materials including stone doorknobs, butterflies pressed between plastic as room dividers and pine needles embedded in plaster walls. The property includes meadows, woodlands and trails complete with intentional plantings, placed boulders and beds of moss to further illustrate the perfect harmony between organic beauty and manmade design.

‘Evolution of consciousness’

Describing Manitoga does not do it justice. There are few words to define the first-hand experience of walking the path around the Quarry Pool to the house itself, surrounded by plants, boulders and moss while hearing music played on speakers placed above you in the trees. According to Manitoga’s website, “In its concept, design, and management, Manitoga unites art, science, culture, and nature with an ecological aesthetic that is both human and spiritual. At a time when most Americans are profoundly alienated from nature and feel isolated from or sentimental toward the world they share with other living things, Manitoga can be seen as an important step in the evolution of our consciousness.”

Take a trip

Manitoga is a National Historic Landmark, an Affiliate Site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and one of the few 20th century modern homes with original landscape open to the public.

Access to the Inner Quarry area with House and Studio is by tour reservation only. Advance ticket purchase required. Tours last 90 minutes, rain or shine. Manitoga’s woodland trails are open to the public daily during daylight hours.

Please follow CDC/NYSDOH guidelines that can be found at https://parks.ny.gov/.

Manitoga is at 584 Route 9D in Garrison. For more information, call 845.424.3812 or visit www.visitmanitoga.org.