In 1924, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., asked New York architect Duncan Candler to prepare plans for a “playhouse,” similar in style to his family’s home, where they could relax and entertain outside of the public eye. For decades, it has served as the center of Rockefeller family activities. Brothers John 3rd, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop, and David often convened meetings here after Sunday dinners and, at one such meeting in 1940, concluded that a joint pool of funds would have more impact than any one of their individual philanthropic efforts, thus establishing the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Completed in 1927, the Tudor-inspired structure has been preserved much as the family kept it. Beyond the main entrance, a stone-floored lobby showcases portraits of Laura Spelman Rockefeller by James Shannon and of John D. Rockefeller by Joszi Arpád Koppay. A large, oak-paneled living room features medieval and early renaissance French limestone sculptures acquired from George Grey Barnard in 1916. Also on this floor are a card room, two bowling alleys, a small dining room, a service kitchen, and a stone porch. One of the most spectacular features of the house, the room housing the indoor pool is lined with patterned tiles, many of them Mexican Talavera. An indoor tennis court was added on the east side of the building in 1938; the adjoining gallery features architectural elements by George A. Schastey & Co. saved from John D. Rockefeller’s New York City home, purchased fully furnished from Arabella Worsham (Huntington) in 1884. In 1955, Nelson Rockefeller commissioned Wallace Harrison of the firm of Harrison & Abramowitz to design the outdoor swimming pool.
At the bequest of David Rockefeller, who passed away in March 2017, the property was transferred to the ownership of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to become part of The Pocantico Center. In 2018, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund elected to rename the building Abeyton Lodge after the childhood home of the Fund’s founders.