08 December 2011

The Bennett School for Girls

Located in Milbrook, New York.  Abandoned in 1977.
The Bennett School for Girls, originally founded in Irvington N.Y. by Miss May Bennett, found Halcyon Hall quite suitable as a new home in 1907. The school had been in operation for seventeen years and had 120 students, most from prominent families. These women took a six year course of study - four years of high school and two years of higher study. Language, culture, and fine arts were stressed in the curriculum. In the early 20th century, the school eliminated high school courses and became a junior college, offering two year degrees.
What a marvelous picture (click for 1600x1200), and a fantastic (literally) building.   You can read about the school and see historic photos here (note the dorm room with a piano, the fencing class, the library...).  This page has interior photographs of the current state of the building;  I particularly liked the handrail on this staircase:

And I would love to have the opportunity to explore the yards and gardens with a metal detector.


  1. What a shame that such a beautiful building is just being allowed to slowly rot into the ground. Surely the alumni could have been tapped to do something about preserving it.

  2. "...the town of Millbrook has been working with developers to demolish the building for condominiums."

    Future generations are not going to thank them for that!

    I recently toured several gorgeous Victorians in Sacramento, California that had been targeted for demolition so big, ugly, high-rise office buildings could be built. One was the Governor's Mansion and another was the Leland Stanford Mansion, which was saved because it was still being used at the time by the Sisters of Mercy as an orphanage. Behind the Stanford Mansion is the kind of uninteresting monstrosity they had planned for the Stanford Mansion site.

    The artistry and skill that went into these old buildings really put to shame today's buildings. They are a real treasure!

    (Wasn't it wonderful that they were teaching art in that school! We need to teach more art and music today but, sadly, those are the first programs that get cut.)

  3. @ anon
    "We need to teach more art and music today but, sadly, those are the first programs that get cut."

    That's precisely WHY buildings like this are allowed to decay and be torn down. Those in charge of making such decisions have no appreciation whatsoever for art, beauty and wonder. I feel sorry for children today, being raised in such a hamfisted, bottom-line-only, ugly world.

  4. I too hate it when beautiful old buildings are destroyed. This one is beautiful. But look at the photo. Parts of the building are all cockeyed and crumbling. It's clearly hazardous. And it probably doesn't have a lot of modern features required by law for any sort of current school or multi-family housing.

    Perhaps someone out there wants to donate the money to save the building? Money works miracles.

  5. Honestly, I think the building is and was an ungainly monstrosity. It had no grace at all even in its prime. Which isn't to say it doesn't have value as such; it's just not an aesthetic value. It's certainly fascinating to look at, especially now with the trees and vines growing over and into it.

    The interiors look rather stodgy and awkward to me as well. But the detailed drawings from the pages of the brochure shown at the bottom of the page are quite lovely.

    And it's definitely a shame it couldn't have been saved and restored. Probably would have been wildly expensive, though. It's most likely too late to do anything but let it crumble (or demolish it).

  6. Anonymous above is me.

    --Swift Loris

  7. I think its wonderful. I love old buildings like this. I cant believe some eccentric millionaire has not snatched this up and restored it.

    As an old school, it kind of reminds me of Hogwarts- except that its not a castle.

    I love it. Its such a shame that it has been allowed to rot.

  8. I love the drawing of the girls swordfighting in P.E.

    It is an interesting old building, and would be very cool to see restored. However, as someone who has done his share of restoring old homes (13 years in a 3-story victorian, 3 years restoring an arts & crafts, and 2 other smaller homes from the early 1900's, in addition to watching a turn-of-the-cnetury opera theater restoration), I can say that I understand it can be less expensive, and less future maintenance headaches (and much cheaper utilities) to sometimes tear a building down and replace it.

    In fact, as much as I love old homes & buildings, I can't imagine what would happen if we were never allowed to tear any of them down... eventually we'd run out of places to build. We must moderate our appreciation for the past with an eye towards future and change.

    But whatever we do, don't just let a building sit there unused. I find empty buildings overwhelmingly sad, as they are fulfilling no function whatsoever.

  9. The souls of it's dead need to be released and the damn thing burned!

  10. I first saw this place in Andre Govia's creative work here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andregovia/sets/72157624472681508/with/5562250316/

    There are good arguements in the comments for both sides of the preserve/demolish arguements, but it would be a shame to loose fodder for the mind of people like Govia.


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