Yaddo is an artist's retreat located on the outskirts of Saratoga Springs, New York, next door to the Saratoga Race Course. The grounds, which cover 400 acres, are composted of the Yaddo Mansion, several other facility buildings, and an extensive garden network.

The land where Yaddo stands today was originally the homestead of an Revolutionary War veteran named Jacobus Barhyte. On his property, Barhyte operated a farm, a gristmill, and a tavern. Artists traveling between the East Coast and the Adirondacks frequented this tavern. Among his visitors was Edgar Allen Poe, who is said to have written part of "The Raven" during his stay.

Spencer and Katrina Trask purchased the property in 1881, and they named it "Yaddo" after a suggestion from their daughter. The family moved into the Yaddo Mansion after the original house was destroyed in a fire in 1893. They continued to entertain houseguests in the new mansion, and often hosted large parties there.

Outliving all their children and left without any heirs, the Trasks decided to dedicate the grounds "to future generations of writers, composers, painters, and other creative artists." They formally incorporated Yaddo in 1900.

Katrina Trask passed away in 1926, and the corporation hired Elizabeth Ames to be Executive Director, and welcomed the first group of artists to Yaddo the same year. Since that first year, over 5,500 creative artists have stayed at Yaddo. The original trust given to Yaddo by the Trask family eventually proved insufficient to keep the retreat open, and the corporation began to accept private donations. Today, more than a third of the donations that Yaddo receives are from artists who have previously stayed there.

Some more notable visitors to Yaddo are Mario Puzo, Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Sylvia Plath, and Langston Hughes. Artists staying a Yaddo have earned 57 Pulitzer Prizes, 55 National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize among other awards. A comprehensive list of guests and awards can be found at their web site.

The Yaddo Gardens take up a majority of the acreage at Yaddo. Their upkeep is the responsibility of the Yaddo Garden Association, which was founded in 1991. The rose garden, which was a gift from Spencer Trask to Katrina in 1899, underwent a major rehabilitation between 1991 and 1994, with the replanting of a wide variety of tea and standard roses.

The rock garden, located a bit closer to the mansion itself, is split into two levels. Each level contains it's own fountain and pool, and is shaded by 100-year-old pines. A marble sculpture is dedicated "to the children of the house."

The Yaddo Gardens are open to the public from 8am to dusk daily. Guided tours of the gardens are available. Once a year, usually in September, the corporation opens up the entirety of the grounds to the public, offering guided tours of all buildings and gardens at Yaddo.


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