The Village of Millbrook, New York is a “real” village, following a classic New England town plan: Along half the tree-lined main street, Franklin Avenue, are small commercial enterprises (specialty and antiques shops, real estate offices, restaurants), while the other half is residential. Millbrook’s Free Library, a center of community cultural life and the village’s largest building, marks the division. There are three churches; a village green with band shell at one end of Franklin, a public park at the other; and one traffic light.
Millbrook has attracted many groups over time, among the earliest the Quakers (an historic Meeting House and cemetery are here). Then, during the waves of late 19th- and early 20th-century immigration, many Irishmen came to work on the horse farms, and Italian stonecutters developed the mason and construction trades. As of October 2014, Millbrook joined the prestigious ranks of the international network Museum in the Streets, resulting in self-guided bilingual tours via several dozen illustrated markers that recount the village’s cultural evolution. Today Millbrook draws many New Yorkers in search of a quiet lifestyle and bucolic setting.Situated amid rolling hills at the highest point of Dutchess County
, Millbrook has long been synonymous with New York State’s horse country, with beautiful farms on all sides. Everywhere you turn the views are enchanting, in all seasons. Small-scale dairy and organic farming is also a feature of the area.Among local educational institutions of note are Millbrook School; Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT; Vassar and Marist colleges in Poughkeepsie; and Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson.The many stately historic houses along the east bank of the Hudson—among them, FDR’s family home and presidential library, Samuel Morse’s Locust Grove, Boscobel to the south, Olana and Montgomery Place to the north—are all within easy drives of Millbrook. Nearby arts venues include the restored Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, Vassar’s Art Center, Rhinebeck’s Playhouse, and Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.For outdoor sports, Millbrook is home to Orvis-Sandanona, known for its handsome grounds and its shooting and fly-fishing schools. Mashomack and Tamarack are private membership clubs for polo and shooting. The landscape is a natural for numerous golf courses and links.
Millbrook is the fortunate beneficiary of two outstanding public gardens: Wethersfield, in the classic Italian style of formal order and ornamentation, and Innisfree, a naturalistic “Chinese cup” garden set around a glacial lake that draws international visitors—and migrating birdlife. (David Wheeler, founder and editor of the British journal Hortus, has written: “Like the pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, Innisfree helps us to define what we mean by ‘civilization.'”