In 1802, Janet Livingston Montgomery (1743–1828) purchased a 242-acre farm on the bank of the Hudson River from John Van Benthuysen [Fig. 1]. Janet, the widow of General Richard Montgomery (1738–1775) who died in the American Revolutionary War, constructed a federal-style house on the property with the assistance of her nephew, William Jones (unknown–1822), which she named “Chateau de Montgomery.” <span id="MontgomeryContract_cite"></span> Janet partnered with James McWilliams to establish a commercial [[nursery]] on her property in 1804 ([[#MontgomeryContract|view text]]), on which they planted 50 varieties of apple trees that her brother Robert shipped from France in 1805. <span id="MontgomeryGeorge_cite"></span>Although the management of this [[nursery]] would change hands, first in 1815, to a gardener and nurseryman named John George hired by Janet as an employee rather than a business partner ([[#MontgomeryGeorge|view text]]), it remained in operation until sometime before her death in 1828. Janet and her partners planned to sell seeds to nurseries in New York, as well as to the nursery of Gordon, Dermer, & Co. in London, where American varieties were considered desirable curiosities. In addition to revenue from the nursery, Janet also made money by renting out her farmland to tenants, some of whom were responsible for managing her own livestock. According to one contract, she paid Philip Dederick one hundred and fifty dollars, along with housing, firewood, and the right to keep some farm animals in exchange for his labor managing her farmland and livestock. The 1820 census also documents twelve slaves who worked in Janet’s house and estate, whom she was eventually forced to free in 1827 when New York State abolished slavery.
Although Janet planned to leave her estate to her nephew William, his early death in 1822 preceded her own, and she willed the property to her youngest brother Edward Livingston (1764–1836) and his wife Louise d’Avezac Livingston (1781–1860). It was they who renamed it Montgomery Place. Edward and Louise occupied the estate seasonally, but they continued to rely on the [[kitchen garden ]] and [[orchard]]s, planting apricot, nectarine, cherry, peach, and pear trees. Drawing on their experiences in Europe, where Edward had served as United States Minister to France from 1833 to 1835, they brought a new approach to the design of the estate that emphasized visual beauty over agriculture and commerce. The new attitudes towards the landscape that emerged at estates like Hyde Park and Montgomery Place as they shed many of their earlier economic functions would spread along the Hudson River, which took on new importance as a shipping and transportation route following the completion of the Erie Canal in 1835. In 1829, Edward and Louise began laying out and building what would eventually grow to five miles of walking paths throughout the estate. His unexpected death in 1836 brought a temporary halt to these projects, and left the estate in the hands of Louise and their only child, Coralie “Cora” Livingston Barton (1806–1873), wife of Thomas Pennant Barton (1803–1869).
[[File:0852.jpg|thumb|right|Fig. 2, Alexander Jackson Davis, "The Conservatory," Montgomery Place, c. 1839.]]
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