As Students For Liberty geared up for its New York Regional Conference, I found myself heading to my home state of New York and staying at none other than the Foundation for Economic Education’s headquarters, an incredible mansion just north of Manhattan full of libertarian history and genuine estate mystery. From the moment I pulled up the winding driveway, I knew I was in for a treat.
The FEE mansion was an early meeting ground for some of the key founders of modern libertarianism. The walls are literally covered with letters and photos from past presidents like Ronald Reagan to great intellectuals including Ludwig Von Mises and Henry Hazlitt. The mansion’s library is truly something to behold with books from floor to ceiling on an array of economic, historical, and political topics. The wonder of being able to stand where some of the most important freedom fighters in modern history stood was truly a pleasure. Of course the mansion also provided an exhilarating location for a little night time exploration.
When FEE is not running one of its renowned seminars, the mansion itself is home to only a small local staff, as such, one other guest and I found ourselves virtually abandoned in a gargantuan house. Naturally, we decided to investigate further. Aside from the occasional find of an old Mises photograph, the estate was surprisingly void of hidden passages and forgotten treasure. Despite this disappointing lack of cliché mysterious mansion features, the FEE headquarters did live up to the creepy factor of every large house at night. This proved to be especially true in the building’s massive labyrinth of a basement and dimly lit attic.
As the weekend unfolded the house became a home away from home, tucked into a stunning area of New York just off the Hudson River. In fall the gold, red, and orange hues only add to what is every bit a picturesque seen of beauty. Perhaps the only thing that outmatched the experience of being in one of the great halls of libertarian lore was its legendary steward, the executive director of FEE, Carl Oberg.
From the beginning, Carl seemed dead set on helping in whatever way possible, including allowing Students For Liberty conference attendees to stay at FEE house. Upon our arrival (well past a reasonable hour for any mere mortal to be awake), Carl gave us a quick tour and helped us get settled in. Throughout the next day he suffered multiple work interruptions and even allowed the use of his personal car for our quick run to the store in a search for franks and beans to cook in the massive kitchen. As if that were not enough, Carl actually drove us to the conference’s Friday night meet and greet and Saturday gathering. In order to satisfy any college-aged group’s quest for kicks, Carl ended up staying later than intended at the evening social and tolerating a hectic student division over staying out late or returning to the mansion with others. All this while entertaining enumerable questions about the house and its history, and preserving a great sense of humor and genuinely friendly disposition. While the stay at the Foundation’s headquarters proved to be an amazing adventure, it was our kind host that made it truly memorable. I cannot imagine a better way to have spent the weekend and I thank Carl and the great folks at the Foundation for Economic Education for making my time there so enjoyable.