Purchased in 1942 by industrial designer Russel Wright, the 75-acre property in the Hudson Highlands was disfigured by 100 years of logging and quarrying. Over the subsequent 34 years Wright sculpted the land, augmenting the native vegetation, stone outcrops, and steep slopes to create a garden that expresses the spirit of the place.
Many of Wright’s design ideas for Manitoga drew from his earlier career as a theater designer and his travels in Japan. He created four miles of woodland paths that allow visitors to appreciate the beauty of the site’s natural systems. He also diverted a stream into the existing quarry to create a swimming pool and waterfall. In 1954, using initial ideas and plans from Wright, architect David Leavitt designed the house and studio known as Dragon Rock.
The house, studio, and landscape design retain a high degree of integrity and the studio has recently been restored. The landscape is relatively unchanged since Wright's death in 1976, with the exception of expected plant growth, and the loss of many hemlock trees because of disease and deer. The site, including the buildings and landscape, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.