The Second-Lives Club
The Former Home of Saul Bellow:
Literary types will get a kick out of the fact that Saul Bellow, who worked at nearby Bard College, once lived in this quaint Italianate Victorian house, which offers a soaring view of the Catskill Mountains from its front porch. The current owners purchased the house in 1996 and, after extensive renovations, opened it as an inn with an on-site spa. Weddings take place in the parlor, which is furnished with mid-1800s Northern European furniture and can hold 65 people (or up to 200, weather permitting, with the addition of a tent). The inn’s five bedrooms are reserved exclusively for the wedding party on the weekend of the event. Prices vary based on the size of the event, but are typically $150 per person for up to 100 people, including the site fee, tent rental, and use of the inn’s five rooms for three nights. It’s a 90-minute Amtrak trip from Penn Station to Rhinecliff, plus a 15-minute taxi ride. 144 Kidd La., Tivoli, New York; 845-757-3424; hamhouse.com.
The Former Officers’ Club:
Bayside Historical Society
There’s something about the Bayside Historical Society that is reminiscent of The Royal Tenenbaums—in a good way. Perched on the bay in Fort Totten Park, it was built in 1887 as the officers’ club for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its deep-red, white-trimmed exterior offers a dramatic backdrop for wedding-party portraits. Once inside, guests can cavort in a variety of rooms, including a country-casual dining room, a grand ballroom, and a spacious reception hall with soaring ceilings, detailed moldings, and large windows facing the park. Fees range from $350 for the first-floor boardroom (which fits up to 20 guests) to $3,800 for the entire building and grounds (up to 150 dinner guests); those rates cover a five-hour event, plus one hour of cleanup. 208 Totten Ave., Fort Totten Park, Bayside; 718-352-1548; baysidehistorical.org.
The Former Family Farm:
Old Stone House & Washington Park
Once known as the Vechte-Cortelyou House, the Old Stone House was built by Klaes Arents Vechte in 1699 and then purchased by the Cortelyou family in 1790. In 1934 the Department of Parks and Recreation rebuilt the farmhouse in the Dutch Colonial style, using stones from the original structure to create an oasis in the middle of Park Slope. Weddings take place in the homey second-floor great room, which has a high, open-timbered ceiling. The house can accommodate 100 people for a cocktail reception or 50 people for a seated dinner (without room for a dance floor). There’s a $500 site fee, then rental charges start at $100 per hour, including setup and cleanup times. Couples bring in their own vendors. 336 3rd St., nr. Fifth Ave., Park Slope; 718-768-3195; theoldstonehouse.org.
The Former Upper East Side Mansion:
Ukrainian Institute of America
Built in 1899 by Gilded Age architect C.P.H. Gilbert, this mansion was originally a residence for a series of prominent families before becoming the Ukrainian Institute in 1955. Ornate French Gothic touches are everywhere: Newlyweds can make quite an entrance through cast-iron doors, mingle with guests beside the impressive marble fireplace, and dance their first dance beneath the original crystal chandelier. Arched windows in the ballroom, which can be used for dining or dancing, overlook Central Park. The space accommodates 250 for a cocktail party and 200 for a sit-down dinner with dancing in the third-floor library or chandelier room. Price upon request. Couples must use their own vendors. 2 E. 79th St., at Fifth Ave.; 212-288-8660; ukrainianinstitute.org.
From the Winter 2014 New York Wedding Guide