The Gilded Age Mansion That Helped Me Appreciate Home

Rear entrance to Mills Mansion — Photo by Jacqueline Dooley

My 15-year-old daughter and I share a voyeuristic passion for what goes on inside other people’s houses. We stare at them as we traverse the winding two-lane roads that are ubiquitous in the Mid-Hudson Valley, a rural area of New York state located about 90 miles north of Manhattan.

We speculate about the people living within the walls of sprawling colonials, Victorian…