The Yeager Estate is a historic mansion in the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Built by Yeager Benjamin in 1936, 6 the Yeager Estate featured unique Spanish Revival styling paired with blonde brick with Art Deco patterns and a Mediterranean tile roof. 1 A full balustraded porch, terraces, and stained glass windows complemented the exterior.
Inside were 32 rooms spread between two floors and a full attic and basement with four kitchens and six baths. 1 It featured ornate plaster in the living rooms, dining room, and ballrooms, a wrought iron and oak banister and frescoes in the front hall, four mantels in the dining room, living room, and ballroom. A sitting room on the second floor featured a fountain with a decorative frog.
In May 1969, the mansion was acquired by the Ahavath Israel Congregation. 6 It was then resold to Vincent Oliver in December 1970 for use as the Respite Villa, a semi-independent home for mentally deficient adults. 4 It offered short and long-term residency, vocational training, self-help skills, structured leisure time activities, and care. It was considered a pioneer residence program for the mentally ill at the time, covering New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Jersey. 5
The Yeager Estate was listed as abandoned by 1978. 1
The village the mansion resides in was a commercial and social center for an agricultural community. 2 Hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts, contempt to camp or board in farmhouses or primitive inns, had begun to arrive in the region by the 1830s. 3 When the railroad arrived in town in 1873, the village tourist industry flourished and numerous summer residences for the New York City wealthy were constructed. 2
By the 1920s, Sullivan County was firmly established as a Jewish resort area and the town began to display upscale sophistication with the construction of numerous mansions and summer cottages. 3 The last vestiges of the agrarian origins of the town faded, with downtown prospering with new intense commercial buildings, theatres, and fueling stations.
The Jewish resorts became part of the “Borscht Belt,” an area once distinguished by scores of Jewish summer resort hotels, cabin colonies, and camps. 3 Tourism in Liberty peaked after World War II, when massive resort facilities, such as Grossinger’s and The Pines, were built in the countryside.
By the 1960s, tourism in Liberty had entered a decline and the town reverted to being a local commercial center. 3 Some obsolete hotels, such as the Liberty House, were destroyed in fires and not rebuilt. Others, like the Mansion House, were razed for municipal parking or commercial buildings.
Vacationers stopped visiting Liberty and the “Borscht Belt” by the 1970s. 3 Air travel was becoming increasingly convenient and cheap and the advent of interstate highways made long-distance automobile travel easier.
- Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Parks and Recreation. Residence. Research report no. 105-41-0019, 20 Aug. 1976.
- Breyer, Lucy A. Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Parks and Recreation. Liberty Village Historic District, 23 Sept. 1977.
- Larson, Neil. Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Parks and Recreation. Liberty Downtown Historic District, 2005 Sept.
- Respite Villa. Kingston Daily Freeman, 21 May 1972, p. T9. Advertisement.
- “Leahy Named to Villa Board.” Kingston Daily Freeman, 4 Sept. 1971. p. 11.
- “483601.” Real Property Tax Service Agency, SDG Image Mate Online.
Thank you so much for these photos! I’m a photographer myself and also the great great granddaughter of Benjamin Yaeger. My grandma grew up in this house and showed me around the exterior when I was about 11 or 12. She showed me where she punched a bully older than her in the face and made him bleed. My grandma was pretty badass HAHA! She also always tells me about how this house had the first indoor swimming pool in New York State, but once her brother was born they drained it so nothing would happen to him. I have always wanted to see inside of this house but I wasn’t able to get in. Thank you so much for capturing it so beautifully!
Thank you for sharing the backstory on this gorgeous mansion. I have been here and I’ve photographed it as well. You and I have a mutual friend in common from PA. (I live in Ohio.) Your name has come up a few times in our past conversations. I understand that this property has recently been sealed up and a lot of items have been cleaned out. Rumor has it that it’s under new ownership and renovations.
Thank you for the peek inside my favorite property in my hometown. I’ve had many daydreams about this place since I was a kid attending Hebrew school next door. It’s special and you captured its elegance and mystery perfectly. Thank you.