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Manitoga offers docent-guided tours of Russel Wright’s home, studio and woodland garden and a Summer Nature and Design Camp, and annually honors excellence in Modern design with the Russel Wright Awards. The Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center is located at 584 Route 9D, Garrison, NY 10524; for more info call 845-424-3812 or email:

Read these two excellent articles: The Origin of Dragon Rock by Architect David L. Leavitt from 2003 and Russel Wright: Manitoga by D.J. Huppatz of January 18, 2010 in Critical Cities.

The Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center preserves and protects pioneer designer Russel Wright’s home and studio, known as Dragon Rock, and Woodland Garden at Manitoga as a learning laboratory about the importance of living in harmony with nature and the value of good design in everything and for everyone. Developed from 1942 to 1976, Manitoga is the only 20th century modern homesite open to the public in New York, and one of few on the U.S. east coast.

In 1942 Russel Wright purchased the hilly 75-acre Hudson Highlands woodland estate which he named Manitoga. By the time he started plannng his home and studio in the late 1950’s with his architect, David Leavitt, he had already selected the homesite, dammed up the empty quarry to make a swimming pool, and diverted a stream which ran through the site to create a waterfall on the opposite side of the pool. The use of trees throughout the house, including the uncut cedar trunk supporting the main roof and the evergreen needles embedded in paint surfaces, ties the structure to the site. He told his architect he “wanted a flat roof covered in vines” and so the greenroof was conceived. Ecologically sensitive woodland gardens followed. Wright considered it his most important creative effort and in 2006, Manitoga was named a National Historic Landmark.

Manitoga’s newly restored environmentally-friendly greenroof, just part of the overall $615,000 renovation project, was made possible largely through a federal Save America’s Treasures grant paired with New York State funding sponsored by Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Senator Vincent Leibell, New York State Council on the Arts, the David L. Klein, Jr. Family Foundation and other private sources, and a major in-kind donation from Kemper System Inc.

Other updates included upgraded drainage strategies around the home, new electrical service, and replacement of badly deteriorated structural members.

The Studio’s original greenroof was replaced with a state-of-the-art installation. Manitoga, Russel Wright’s National Historic Landmark home, studio and woodland garden, celebrated the re-installation of the iconic designer’s greenroof on April 17, 2010 during a ceremony where NY Congressman John Hall spoke to the media, donors and the public.

Representative Hall said “There are lots of ways to move toward sustainable living, and the green roof that has been re-installed here at Manitoga should serve as a good reminder of how extensive and dedicated efforts at living in greater harmony with our environment can be. It’s quite inspiring in this regard!” and added he was happy to have sponsored a $250,000 Save America’s Treasures grant in Congress to help the Russel Wright Design Center fund the greenroof restoration and other projects at Manitoga.


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