Situated on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, this site incorporates approximately 100 acres of hilly terrain south of Wheeler Hill Road. The site was developed as an estate in the 1850s by William Henry Willis and by the 1870s became the primary residence of the Rives family, who named the estate Carnwath after a Scottish village. The property was purchased by the Order of the Brothers of Hermits of Saint Augustine in 1925, and by 1958 an administration building, dormitory, and chapel had been added near the extant nineteenth century residence and outbuildings. In 1999 the town of Wappinger acquired the property and opened it to the public the following year. Since 2005 the former dormitory has housed the Sports Museum of Dutchess County.
Proceeding through the site’s primary entrance, located along its northern edge, and flanked by stone walls, visitors navigate south along a curvilinear drive that gently rises in elevation towards the structures and parking area. Deciduous and coniferous specimen trees, line the drive, partially screening a second growth woodland to the west and an expansive, sloped meadow to the east. The drive meets the north façade of the residence and forms a cul-de-sac, featuring a central bed planted with perennials, before proceeding to the southeast. Trails diverge from the parking area, leading visitors through the property’s western woodlands and across the mowed eastern meadows, which are framed by stands of trees. The meadows afford expansive views of the river, from the Hudson Highlands in the south to Poughkeepsie in the north. Carnwath Farms is a contributing feature of the Wheeler Hill Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.