What are the seemingly ancient ruins seen in Tyringham?
Photo by Jonathan Beller
Four Doric columns, rising like a phoenix from the remains of a 115-year-old Georgian-style mansion, have become synonymous with Ashintully Gardens—a locale whose name derives from the Gaelic meaning “on the brow of the hill.” From this vantage point, overlooking the verdant Tyringham Valley, the once-prominent home of Robb and Grace de Peyster Tytus was known to locals as the Marble Palace, a moniker employed to describe the way the pure white sand, used in the building’s stucco façade, reflected the sunlight.
Following Tytus’ death in 1913, his widow remarried and they had one son. John S. McLennan Jr., who spent his childhood summers at the Tytus estate, went on to become an accomplished composer of contemporary classical music before acquiring the property in 1937. His emphasis on elegant form and proportion in music is expressed through his garden design—cultivated and expressed over the course of 30 years—and intended as a parallel creative effort to his musical work.
The home, inhabited by two generations of the Tytus-McLennan family, was destroyed by fire in 1952. Echoes of the serene Gilded Age retreat remain, and visitors can wend their way through the gardens’ myriad of natural features, or follow a half-mile woodland trail leading to the ruins of the Marble Palace, on Wednesdays and Saturdays through October, between 1 and 5 p.m. The property, located on Sodom Road, is maintained by The Trustees of Reservations land trust.