Tarrytown, New York
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Washington Irving is considered the first truly American writer. Moving to Europe in 1815 he write the Sketch Book between 1819-20, which contained the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the story he is most remembered for today.
The story itself is fiction of course, but the characters and the setting was taken from life. As a young man, he would wander among the stones of the cemetery of the Old Dutch Church, made famous in the tale as the point the hapless Ichabod was trying to reach. There he found many of the names of the people who ended up in the story, as well as the basis of the character of the headless horseman.
Some years after returning to the states, he purchased ten acres of land and an old cottage, which he christened Sunnyside. The small, two room stone cottage had been built in 1656 by Dutch-American inhabitant named Wolfert Acker, and had been named Wolfert’s Roost. With a panoramic view of the Hudson, Iriving fell in love and immediately began remodeling, a task which would take most of his life.
Following Wolfert’s ownership, the cottage fell into the hands of the Van Tassell’s made famous in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. As such, according to legend, it was the inspiration for the home of Baltus Van Tassell. It is here on that fateful night, that the Ichabod Crane, on his borrowed pony Gunpowder, began making his way back to Sleepy Hollow.
The building is now operated as a museum by Historic Hudson Valley