Mansions In The 60S

November 25, 2018 6:34 am by zionstar
This magical drug mansion in upstate new york is where the psychedelic 60s took off
This mansion has sat virtually untouched for 50 years
Mansions In The 60S
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At Timeline, we reveal the forces that shaped America’s past and present. Our team and the Timeline community are scouring archives for the most visually arresting and socially important stories, and using them to explain how we got to now. To help us tell more stories, please consider becoming a Timeline member.

On April 17, 1966, at two in the morning, the Millbrook estate was raided by 22 police officers with the assistance of a search warrant. The premises had been under surveillance for months — which is really no surprise — and police busted down the door in hopes of finding a gold mine of LSD.

But then along came Peggy Hitchcock, who Leary introduced to LSD the year before and with whom he had a brief affair. In his autobiography, Timothy Leary wrote:

The scene at Millbrook ultimately collapsed just as LSD went mainstream. Leary, Ginsberg and other Millbrook regulars led the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in January 1967, with Haight-Ashbury in full swing. The Beatles were taking acid, and everybody knew it. California Governor Reagan decried the demon drug of LSD, and soon-to-be President Richard Nixon called Timothy Leary the most dangerous man in America.

Standing on the grounds of the cattle ranch, with the waterfalls, meadows, rolling hills dotted with cows, and a rambling Bavarian castle with turrets that looked straight out of a medieval psychedelic fantasy, it’s a wonder the reporter failed to smell the bullshit.

In September of 1963, Alpert, Leary, and Ralph Metzner (their colleague at Harvard) moved in, along with thirty or so of their followers. In a Poughkeepsie Journal article headlined “Scientists Plan No Experiments at Millbrook,” Alpert assured the reporter that their drug days were over. The plan was to “write extensively” and “live quietly.”

The two men at the forefront of LSD-movement—Harvard researcher Timothy Leary and spiritual teacher Richard Alpert—decided to move into the mansion in Millbrook, for the rent of one dollar per year. Their intents were to “live quietly” and “write extensively,” but they weren’t the only ones to seek refuge in this psychedelic castle.

Billy Hitchcock’s country estate in Millbrook, New York, was occupied by Timothy Leary and his followers during much of 1967. (Alvis Upitis/Getty Images)

Leary, Alpert and Metzner were looking for insight into the ultimate nature of reality, to systematize and program the psychedelic experience to reach that place of insight consistently. To that end, Leary, Alpert and Metzner published the journal The Psychedelic Review, held workshops on psychedelics twice a month that were decidedly more sober than the normal shenanigans, and wrote The Psychedelic Experience (1964), a trip manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (John Lennon, who first took LSD in 1965 after a dentist dosed him and within weeks was dropping acid daily, would compose the revolutionary track “Tomorrow Never Knows” based on passages from The Psychedelic Experience).

It wasn’t long before Richard Alpert jumped out of a second story window and broke his leg while on psychedelics, but everyone embraced the experimentation to the fullest. It’s no wonder LSD was the drug of choice: once you stepped inside the Millbrook mansion, you drifted off into an other-worldly state. You hardly needed acid to start tripping once you saw the new digs.

Homes in the 1960s The 1960s for the most part was considering a very prosperous times, despite the happenings of the time (i.e. U.S. involvement in Vietnam). Many large homes were constructed during these times.

Features Included in 1960s Homes Of course, every home was unique for the most part-or at least as unique as it could be without violating building standards. Some of the features that were implemented into floor plans during this period in history include concrete driveways, squeak proof flooring, as well as lath and plaster walls (instead of drywall).

The living rooms of many 1960s homes were quite spacious as well, and normally the bedrooms had ample closet space. Furthermore, the lot of these homes usually provided adequate place for social entertainment and facilities.

For example many homes were built with a swimming pool in the yard. Furthermore, houses built in the 1960s were often well-landscaped around them, and/or a garden was planted on the premises. You will find photos to view in the next section which will help you picture in your mind more clearly how homes and yards were constructed in the 1960s.

Please refer to the next section. Sample 1960s Homes One type of home that was significant of the late 1960s includes the Mediterranean split level home (priced at just under $40,000). A sample drawing of this home is displayed below: Notice the sophisticated landscape artistry that surrounds this home.

Also, take note of the scenic view that surrounds this home, which makes it a dwelling that the inhabitants of the times most likely had appreciated (and perhaps still do). Another home model that was popular in the year 1967 was one such as this one advertised in a Hayward, California local newspaper (Hayward Daily Review).

Take a look at this particular photo below: Other luxurious homes are described in local California news publications as well. The following is a sample photo of the outside of a 2350 square-foot home that rests on one-third of acre of land.

Note the trees and shrubbery landscape on the front and sides of this home. This home sits in front of mountain ranges, which allowed the occupant of this dwelling with a year-round tourist-like view.

Take a look below: Another unique home is this one. The photo was printed in a black and white newspaper, so the quality is a bit low. However, if you look very carefully you will notice the covered patio area.

Please refer to the photo of a California home with patio: Note that there are spaces in between each beam that runs from the house outward. This most likely indicates unfinished construction on a home to be purchased soon.

This particular piece of real estate was advertised in a local Van Nuys, California newspaper. Other homes advertised in classified ads during this decade came with a screened porch, garage. Most homes came with at least two bedrooms, and quite often these homes were built with three or four bedrooms.

Kitchens State-of-the-art kitchens were designed in the 1960s. One of the signature materials that was used to make the cabinets in kitchens of this decade is Formica, which was used to make a large number of cabinets and counter tops.

Different types of durable wood such as walnut, oak, cherry, or fruit wood were also frequently used in kitchen cabinet construction, as well as in the building of other kitchen furnishings. Additionally, the placement of magnetic catches on doors (presumably for cabinet doors) and the use of nylon rollers with ball bearing drawer glides was quite popular during this time.

Styles of kitchen designs that were popular in the 1960s include those representative of Colonial times or those representative of Venetian, Provincial, or Riviera Tastes. These historical kitchen designs still proved to be very attractive even when combined with modern-day conveniences and gadgets of the times.

Examples of what kitchens looked like during this time include the following (photos below): Note that the above 1965 kitchens came equipped with appliances such as an electric stove with four range burners (usually), a refrigerator, and a dishwasher.

Of course, these kitchens usually also included a sink as well. Furthermore, a large number of kitchens during this decade came with hidden soft lighting and each kitchen was properly insulated. Family Room Bedroom, or Living Room Furnishings You can take a look at the picture below to get a better idea of how a 1960s living room or family room would be decorated.

Coffee tables, end tables, and/or comfortable seating sat in each these homes, which were typically lived in by growing families. Many of the furniture pieces were made with the same quality of materials used in kitchens.

Additionally, bedrooms, living rooms, and family rooms more often than not were lined with nylon carpeting on the floor. Each room was also equipped with either electrical outlets or phone outlets in order to use household devices such as the television or telephone.

Additional Attributes of 1960s Homes Many of them were adequately insulated and they also used a heating system, such as the forced air type that was very common in earlier times. Bathrooms often were built with both a shower and a bath, and many homes also included a dressing room and/or wardrobe space.

Yards were often very carefully and artistically landscaped.

The 1960s were a time of infinite self-exploration, and if a decade’s grand finale is Woodstock you know it was one for the books. There may not be hippies frolicking about at the Millbrook estate any longer, but these free spirits definitely paved the way for psychedelics…and that’s pretty far out.

Although officers expected to stumble upon mountains of acid, they left rather disappointed. They found 29 adults, 12 children, and a small amount of marijuana. No other drugs were found in the house, but there was still an uproar.

Those fears were realized at around 2am on Sunday, April 17, 1966, when the newly-appointed assistant district attorney G. Gordon Liddy — yes, that G. Gordon Liddy — led a nighttime raid on the Millbrook estate, search warrant in hand, a climax to months of surveillance.

Billy Mellon Hitchcock—a young stockbroker and heir to one of the largest fortunes in the United States—decided to shell out half a million on a humongous estate in Millbrook, NY in 1963. It wasn’t until his sister Peggy — a renowned party girl who introduced him to the fun of dropping acid—asked her brother for a favor. No one was ready for the whirlwind that would ensue. 

Ah yes, Billy. Ever in the background at Millbrook, never quite front and center, never quite fitting in, but always around. Billy failed to see any contradictions between his worldly and psychedelic pursuits. Some at Millbrook felt he just didn’t get it, hadn’t quite broken through to the other side. Others suspected his intentions. Why, after all, would an entrenched member of the establishment be so eager to support those seeking to tear it down? But there were tender moments. During one trip, an agitated Billy had to be assured that the estate was really his. At the outset of one group trip where participants went around in a circle stating their questions they hoped to have answered and their intentions for the session, Hitchcock asked: “How can I make more money on the stock market?” Not your typical acid head, indeed.

6. The Mansion’s Inhabitants Were Always On A Trip Media Source

The Beatles weren’t the only ones seeing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The end of the antics at Millbrook birthed a widespread acceptance of acid, and this psychedelic mansion had a big impact on an entire culture. John Perry Barlow — who was a regular at Millbrook — went on to write songs for The Grateful Dead.

“Peggy Hitchcock was an international jet-setter, renowned as the colorful patroness of the livelier arts and confidante of jazz musicians, race car drivers, writers, movie stars. Stylish, with a wry sense of humor, Peggy was considered the most innovative and artistic of the Andrew Mellon family. Peggy was easily bored, intellectually ambitious, and looking for a project capable of absorbing her whirlwind energy. And that was us.”

Though it would be some 30 years before R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” hit the radio waves, one can almost hear its faint strings in the background as Dr. Richard Alpert leapt all slow motion-like from a second story window of the Millbrook mansion and tested that ill-conceived notion that would soon come to haunt parents the country over any time those three dreaded letters L-S-D were mentioned. Alas, Alpert did not fly. He broke his leg.

She asked her brother Billy if anyone was staying at the boarded up mansion at his recently purchased cattle ranch. “He said no,” she recalled. “So Richard Alpert and I went up and looked and we thought it was great. The rent was a dollar a year.”

Just imagine a head shop on—well—acid. The mansion was decorated with ornate Persian rugs, psychedelic artwork, and tapestries. This place was literally dressed to make your trip that much more enjoyable, and everyone took full advantage.

Timothy Leary, Ph.D, and Rosemary Woodruff work on a one of Leary’s lectures at the 63 room Hitchcock mansion in Millbrook, New York on June 15, 1967. (Alvis Upitis/Getty Images)

Timothy Leary — the brains behind the operation — ran down the stairs in just a T-shirt, screaming that his rights were being violated. He couldn’t be convinced to put on pants, and he was arrested alongside three other people in the house. The acid trip at Millbrook was over, but it was just beginning outside of the mansion’s walls. 

“Everyone was always either just coming down from a trip or planning to take one. Some dropped acid for ten days straight, increasing the dosage and mixing in other drugs,” as stated in the 1985 novel Acid Dreams. It is even rumored that the dogs and children dropped acid as well. Despite the endless shenanigans, the mission of those in the Millbrook mansion was still rooted in science.

Liddy and 22 officers busted down the main door without knocking, even though, like all doors on the property, it was never locked. They found 29 adults and 12 children, most of them asleep. Searching the premises, officers found a small amount of cannabis, but no acid or other drugs. They confiscated Leary’s son’s high school chemistry set. Women were strip searched and asked whether they “had intercourse” on the premises.

Leary and Alpert were joined by around thirty of their followers, and this was no ordinary group. Coveted beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg and jazz musician Charles Mingus were also in attendance, and the Millbrook estate was becoming more and more alive. There was no shortage of conversation, reflection, or tripping.

Artists Rudi Stern and Jackie Cassen operate a psychedelic slide show seminar using lights and gels at Millbrook in 1966. (Yale Joel/Life Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The Millbrook mansion became known as a major party headquarters, and students from surrounding colleges began to flock to the grounds to see for themselves. The county began to get agitated about the endless partying and LSD use, and it was only a matter of time before this long trip came to an end.

Millbrook provided the perfect setting for Leary and company to explore the limits of psychedelics by tripping hard, and often. (Alvis Upitis/Getty Images)

German-born gas magnate Charles F. Dieterich bought the land from a Civil War widow in the 1880s, and turned the farm into a game preserve where on the weekends politicians like Governor Nelson Rockefeller hunted deer, pheasants and rabbits. The crown jewel of Daheim, as the estate was then known, was a 64-room Bavarian baroque mansion and gatehouse. After Dieterich’s death in 1927, the estate had passed to William Teagle, president of Standard Oil. By the time Billy Hitchcock bought the farm in 1963, the estate had fallen into disrepair, the dilapidated mansion an afterthought. That is, until Peggy Hitchcock, his impossibly hip 28-year-old sister who turned him onto acid, asked him for a favor.

Leary claimed he knew it was coming from the moment he first tried LSD back in September of 1961. “From the date of this session,” he said, “it was inevitable that we would leave Harvard, that we would leave American society and that we would spend the rest of our lives as mutants, faithfully following the instructions of our internal blueprints, and tenderly, gently disregarding the parochial social inanities.”

But this experiment in mystical living wasn’t just an endless party. The ringleaders were still academics at heart — plunged deep into uncharted intellectual terrain, to be sure, but compelled nonetheless to map that terrain as best they could.

It was the end of things at Millbrook, and the beginning of the psychedelic 1960s for everybody else.

But as the months passed, Millbrook started to lose its scientific bearings, the scene growing wilder and wilder as word got out to colleges dotting the East Coast. Residents of Dutchess County grew ever more suspicious. Students at the nearby all women’s Bennett College were shown close-ups of Leary at the start of each term, with administrators warning them that fraternizing with this man would mean instant expulsion. For Leary and his followers, the Buddhist insight that catches hold by about the fifth acid trip that nothing, even the magical paradise of Millbrook, could last forever, turned into creeping fears of an imminent bust.

Demand for acid was high, and Billy Hitchcock, enterprising as ever, sensed an opportunity. He introduced Nicholas Sand, a Millbrook regular and aspiring underground chemist, to Tim Scully, a whizz kid chemist from Berkeley newly-arrived on the estate. With Hitchcock bankrolling the operation, the two chemists moved to California, set up a lab, and synthesized 3.6 million hits of Orange Sunshine — 250 micrograms of pure LSD bliss that hit the San Francisco streets right on time for the Summer of Love. Hitchcock soon followed his latest venture to the Bay Area, but not before evicting everybody from the estate he was now certain was his.

Drs. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, the partners in crime behind the ill-fated Harvard Psilocybin Project, were in bad shape in the summer of 1963 as the Daheim estate sale was being finalized. Earlier that spring, after giving psilocybin to an undergraduate, Alpert became the first Harvard professor in the twentieth century to get fired. (“Some day it will be quite humorous,” Alpert said, “that a professor was fired for supplying a student with ‘the most profound educational experience in my life.’ That’s what he told the Dean it was.”) Leary’s ouster followed days later, for the far tamer reason of failing to show up to teach his scheduled classes.

This magical drug mansion in Upstate New York is where the psychedelic ’60s took offOwned by one of America’s richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more

The mansion now renovated and replete with the requisite Persian rugs, pillows, mattresses and psychedelic art, its residents could trip with reckless abandon. It was, as Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain put it in Acid Dreams (1985), quite the scene:

It was all about peace, love, and going with the flow. Defying—or completely ditching—authority was the way to go, and the world revolved around finding yourself. The result? The birth of an entire culture.

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Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert made it clear from the beginning that they were using LSD to find the “ultimate nature of reality.” They published a manual on how to experience the best trip called The Psychedelic Experience in 1964, and they even held workshops. Even though the Millbrook mansion gathering started as a scientific adventure, it took on a life of its own.

Billy, as he was called, was a tall, charming blonde stockbroker in his twenties who worked at Lehman Brothers, for one. He was heir to one of the largest fortunes in the country, for another. And he had a trust fund that lined his pockets with $15,000 a week to do what he pleased. Sometimes he played the stocks. Sometimes he dropped acid. In January of 1963, Billy thought it’d be a smart investment to spend half a million dollars on 2,500 acres of land two hours north of New York City on the outskirts of the sleepy village of Millbrook.

14. LSD Was Beginning To Leak Into Mainstream Society Media Source

Their internal blueprints led them to first to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, then to the island of Antigua, and finally back to Cambridge, $50,000 in debt.

The beginning of the hippie culture was monumental for all of those that had an interest in certain recreational activities. Besides the use of marijuana by stars such as Jimi Hendrix, other forms of drug exploration were starting to strongly take hold. Psychedelics were growing in popularity, and one family, in particular, was at the forefront of it all.

Leary came down the stairs from his bedroom wearing nothing but a t-shirt, arguing with Liddy that his constitutional rights were being violated as officers failed repeatedly to convince him to put on pants. He was arrested along with three others. In a newspaper account the next day, Sheriff Quinlan described the mansion’s interior as grotesque. “There were weird paintings on the walls and some exotic statues,” he said. “There were candles all over the place and the house just reeked with incense.”

“There were large aquariums with unusual fish, while other animals, dogs, cats, goats, wandered freely through the house. People stayed up all night tripping and prancing around the estate. (A stash of liquid acid had spilled in Richard Alpert’s suitcase, soaking his underwear, when the psychedelic fraternity was traveling back from Zihuatanejo, so anyone could get high merely by sucking on his briefs.) Everyone was always either just coming down from a trip or planning to take one. Some dropped acid for ten days straight, increasing the dosage and mixing in other drugs. Even the children and dogs were said to have taken LSD.”

Along with the residents came a rotating cast of celebrities, thinkers and artists. Jazz musicians like Charles Mingus and Maynard Ferguson tested their improvisational skills while playing bass and trumpet high on the roof. Allen Ginsberg and his lover Peter Orlovsky frolicked nude on the grounds. Members of Warhol’s factory drove up when they needed a break from the amphetamine velocity of NYC living. Psychologists both pop and proper, such as Alan Watts, Humphrey Osmond and R.D. Laing, debated theory as Billy Hitchcock talked business with Swiss bankers on the phone.

The dream was over. From that point onward, Millbrook was under constant surveillance. Police set up roadblocks around the premises, and anyone who wanted to enter the estate had to be strip searched. Many of the OG regulars departed the scene, replaced by strung out youngsters getting into harder drugs, like methamphetamine. Leary was a sporadic presence, spending more and more time in California. John Perry Barlow, a regular at Millbrook during its final days who’d later write lyrics for the Grateful Dead, co-found the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and write the famed Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace manifesto, said Leary and others had “found Dr. Alpert’s manias so alarming they’d sent him packing off to India.” Alpert would return in 1969 bearded, wearing a dhoti and calling himself Ram Dass, crystallizing his learnings from India with the 1971 countercultural classic Be Here Now, which inspired an obsessed Steve Jobs to wander Alpert’s path in India in search of his guru.

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