Forgotten Ruins in Dobbs Ferry

At first glance, it would be hard to figure out what this bland modern nursing home…

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…has to do with these haunting, castle-like ruins:

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Incredibly, they are actually within 20 feet of each other! You can see the castle just off to the left:

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The establishment pictured is the St. Cabrini Nursing Home, located in Dobbs Ferry, NY (a few towns north of Yonkers). The nursing home dates back to the 1900′s, when it was housed in an Italian villa on this very spot. Unfortunately, that building was torn down in the early 1970′s to make-way for a more modern structure, which I believe was replaced in turn by the building pictured above.

However, something special managed to avoid the wrecking ball. If you drive into the parking lot of the nursing home and proceed to the rear, you’ll see an odd castle structure poking up, completely overgrown with trees and weeds.

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You might be surprised to find that this is just the first of three levels, which descend the steep hill toward the Hudson below. For anyone who takes the Hudson Line train, you can catch a glimpse of the castle just south of the Dobbs Ferry station (click the pan to see it in full size):

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According to the great ruins website, Hudson Valley Ruins, this building was built in the early 1900′s as part of the St. Cabrini novitiate, a training school for the nuns who ran the hospital and others like it.  No clue when the building was boarded up, but as of 2001, the nursing home was actively planning to demolish it.

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The top level features two turrets lined with crenelations (the alternating blocks on the edges, which I suppose would offer nuns ample protection when firing weapons at anyone attacking from the Hudson). The turrets are separated by a large open court:

court

If not for the overgrowth and assorted trash, this court would have a fantastic view, as it overlooks the Hudson at its widest portion (note: that’s a very long drop off to the right).

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I completely agree with HVR’s Robert Yasinac when he suggests it as worth restoring simply so residents of the nursing home can sit out and watch the river on summer days. But sure, tearing it down would be a great idea too.

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One of the turrets:

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I love the arched stone doorway:

door1

Strangely, the towers don’t match. Not only is the right one larger than the left…

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It also features different style doors…

door2

Another view:

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You can make your way down to the lower levels of the castle via a brick staircase on the left. Note the gothic windows, which have been sadly closed up with cement blocks.

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You can also see an open doorway. Why didn’t I go in and take pictures? Several questionable noises from within led me to strongly believe someone was inside, quite possibly someone who calls it home. I decided not to intrude.

Here’s the reverse view, convincing evidence that we may have actually de-evolved in our architectural progress.

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Finally, this is the front of the castle (I can’t stress how incredibly steep the hill is). Both floors appear to have once been lined with enormous windows, which would have afforded incredible views of the Hudson. A shame this has fallen into ruin.

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I scouted this place hoping that it might work for a medieval scene, and that the studio would be willing to pay for some level of overhaul (removing the overgrowth at the very least). Sadly, the scene was ultimately written out of the movie, and we had no use for it. Here’s hoping the nursing home comes to their senses about demolishing it (check out HVR to see how bad the decay has become since 2001)

-SCOUT

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46 comments

  1. I can’t believe no one seems to care that they have their own castle?! Or that they are actually considering tearing it down. Sad really. Up in Saskatchewan we have old houses all over the prairies and no one wants to tear them down, they just sit there. Why can’t we have a castle too?!
    Also excellent website I very much enjoy it, keep it up!

  2. Neat. Love that kind of stuff. I moved to NYC in May and have yet to get back on the Urban Decay train I was on in my last city. Would love any recommendations on where to go in the NYC area to get photos similar to these, which I took for an exhibition that took place in the DC suburbs over the summer. Perhaps via email, to avoid spilling beans publicly!

  3. I am in from Colorado visiting my mom at Cabrini. I found some additional info on the land… The Hudson Valley is full of History. LOVE It!
    St Cabrini Home was purchased by Mother Cabrini (1850 – 1917) from the Jesuits, who when they owned it called it Manresa ( a location in Spain strongly associated with St. Ignatius Loyola) Institute. When the property proved too small, the Jesuits purchased property on the east shore, calling it St. Andrew’s, which was used as a Novitiate until about 1968, and is now owned by the Culinary Institute of America.
    There is a charming story about the purchase, probably apocryphal, but worth relating. It seems that the Jesuits abandoned the site because they could not find a sufficient source of water in artesian wells for their prospective use. Along came a little nun who could hardly speak English. Voila! However, the little nun, St. Cabrini, brought in well drillers, pointed out where they ought to drill, and found plenty of water!
    The property was first used as an orphanage for New York City girls of Italian heritage, as part of the Catholic Church’s efforts to service the Italian immigrant community. The censuses of 1900 and 1910 contain long lists of children who were housed at the home, sometimes called “Sacred Heart Home”; most of the children were of Italian origin. Later when that function was phased out, it became a senior citizen residence.

  4. Alice Massaro Steck

    I could not believe my eyes. I played in these ruins as a child! I attended Sacred Heart Villa Boarding School for Girls from 1951 to 1959. The building that housed the school was torn down around 1970 to build the nursing home.

    I came to stay with the Cabrini nuns when I was 4 years old. I have such fond memories of the school and grounds. I would wake up each morning and look out over the Hudson River and the “Fairy Tale Castle.” I used to dream of, one day, leaving the boarding school and going out into the world just like the “beautiful princess” did.

    I rearly went home to visit family. So I spent many, many hours wondering around the grounds. I would explore the castle ruins and spent many hours reading inside. The nuns always knew where to find me and, of course, I would be in big trouble as they were off limits!

    I hope some of the other girls come across this site. I’m sure they will be as thrilled as I was to see the pictures. Thanks for the memories!

    • Gloria W Lopez de Lema

      Hi Alice, I read your comments and felt I had to respond to them. I too attended Sacred Heart Villa from 1955 to 1959 and have wonderful memories of it. I remember the rows of lily’s of the valley, the huge black cherry tree, another huge tree – a weeping willow that I used to read under. I remember “oh Mary we Crown thee with blossoms today” and winding ribbons around the maypole. I remember Mother Thecla (sp?)my fourth grade teacher and also Mother Frances who was in my dorm. I remember the row of beds filled with young girls who were living there and would sometimes go home on weekends and return on sundays. I remember having milk and cookies outside in a large wood barn type building that was open on the sides. I remember cleaning the bannisters with bee’s wax. and I remember the statue of the Sacred Heart when you first came into the front parlor. Every morning I would get up for mass and enjoyed singing in the choir. I remember being confirmed by Cardinal Sheehan. I used to always get into trouble. I remember my best friend Maria Soto and her sister Clara who, as it turned out, also went to the same high school I went to in Puerto Rico (Academia Santa Teresita). I remember Francis Rea (a lovely bright girl who wore braces and was a day student as she lived in Dobbs Ferry. Perry Como and Liberace on Sundays in the auditorium. The terrific Christmas shows we would put on. I remember being Santa one year and remember tap dancing. That was the most wonderful experience of my life. The nuns were wonderful women truly devoted to their faith and to us. They were firm at times but we sure needed it. I remember many other things but unfortunately I can’t remember many of the other girls names. Hope you’ve had a wonderful, fulfilling life and that God has been a big part of that. I was blessed with a wonderful husband and three terrific kids. Everyone now has grown up and the family has gotten larger. I have 4 grandchildren, my dear husband passed away in 2009 and my fantastic, beautiful mom passed in 2007. It has been quite sad without them, but their memories will always be in my mind. Send me an email and we can chat some more. Also, I am on facebook, just ask me to be your friend and I will be so happy to share my photos of family and friends with you. God Bless and take care, gloria

      • vivienne peterson

        I have one picture of the front of the school and a couple on the grounds. I would like to find someone with a group picture taken somewhere between 1952 to 1956. I had one and have lost it. I can be contacted at signeblue@cox.net and I am facebook.
        vivienne peterson christiansen (My name was vivienne mueller then.)

      • Maricarmen jimenez

        hi Gloria I too was there at that time will try to contact you in Facebook best regards Maricarmen

      • Carolyn Pagani

        Just read your comments about Sacred Heart Villa as I was looking for something else. I, too, was there as a day student for all 8 yrs. of grammar school from 1954 through 1962. Mother Techla was one of my teachers and I remember both Frances Rea & Maria Soto. I’m a retired Social Worker and actually worked at Cabrini on the site and still live in the area. Have wonderful memories and can still smell the beeswax – it truly was a very special place! I remember the incredible Christmas pageants we used to put on and the wonderful hot lunches in the formal dining room. Even in the fifties there were several abandoned bldgs. we used to play in & then get in trouble. Would love to share more memories of this extraordinary place!
        Carolyn Corasiniti-Pagani

    • Maricarmen jimenez

      Hi Alice I was also a boarder in 1958 I remember mother Tecala and the line we would have to stand very morning in the hallway. I really disliked the school. I found some closure reading of your expereince! Anyway great hearing from you, best of luck Maria Jimenez

  5. MIGUELA CARRASQUILLO

    I also went to the school in the 1950′s and loved it. I remember a field of buttercup flowers. I wish I could get pictures of the actual school before it was torn down. I remember music lessons and large dorms.

  6. I am looking to shoot a film at a nursing home and came across this picture… The location is so cinematic its insane…

    I am touched by one of the stories of the little girl that hid out in the castles during her stay there when it was a school…

    If interested in helping me make my film… see: http://www.socialcinemaproject.com

    thanks

  7. I too attended Sacret Heart Villa around the late 50s to 60s. Remember the grounds well. Also the view of the Hudson River from the dorm’s window.There was a large door that seperate us from the younger girls. Lots of wonderful memories.

    • Dalia Rosa Halpern

      Luz, I think we were in the same class together. My name is Dalia. I think you attended day school. I boarded. I was from upper Manhattan. My graduating class was 1964! I have a few pictures of the old school and I remember the entire structure inside and out. I could actually draw them both. I remember the old castles. We’d go down there on forbidden journeys to explore and play. The nuns did not want us down there. But we’d sneak out during recess once in a while. It was magical. I loved my years there. More in memory than when I actually lived them. Mother Ursula was tough. I wish I could get all my classmates together. I also remember some of the girls from the year before and after mine.

  8. i cant belevie that some one would wont to get wipe away a pieceofhistory.that dosent even belong to them probly.i know that the dobbsferry was named after my family so it realy sucks that no try to do anything with but taken down thats how much respect people have for thing that dont belong to them or they dont have anything to do with yea that give me alot of faith in human kind

  9. Interesting. My maternal grandmother & sister were in this orphanage in the early 1900′s after their mother was murdered on E 74th St. The youngest sibling was in a house of lesser worth and told stories about oatmeal w/worms, being hungry, nuns were mean. No specifics but she acted out as one with an internalized abuser all her life. My grandmother was in the better one next to it & said it was great and she got to go to HS. Neither of them mentioned a castle.
    I went to Cabrini HS in Washington Hts but was taken regularly as a child to the chapel by my paternal grandmother because her daughter went to elementary and secondary there. We’d go see Mother George in her office.
    Still trying to figure out some ancestral mysteries on orphanage maternal side. I even worked and lived in Irvington and did not know about this castle. It looks similar to the one at Halsey Pond and that seems to have merely been decorative.

  10. I went to the boarding school that used to be there, where the nursing home is now. I remember the castle . We were never allowed to go there, because they felt it wasn’t safe. I was amazed to see these pictures on your site.
    Do you know how I can go about finding photos of the school that was there?
    It was called Sacred Heart Villa Academy for girls. It was a boarding school.
    Any help in this matter would be so appreciated.
    Thank You, Jennifer

    • vivienne peterson

      Jennifer – I have one picture of the front of the school and a couple on the grounds. I would like to find someone with a group picture taken somewhere between 1952 to 1956. I had one and have lost it. I can be contacted at signeblue@cox.net and I am facebook.
      vivienne peterson christiansen (My name was vivienne mueller then.)

  11. The photos of the castle took me back in time. I was 8 when I began attending Sacred Heart Villa, a boarding school for girls from 1st through 8th grades at that time. This structure was strictly off limits, too dangerous a place to play. Yet it served to fuel our imaginations with sweet and scary stories alike. The school itself would have been an ideal setting for a movie, full of winding staircases and hiding places. Someone here mentioned Mother George. I’d all but forgotten the principal whose office I cleaned each morning. I’m intrigued by the Villa’s history as I had only heard rumors of its function as an orphanage. Thanks for the memories.

  12. emily vespertino hawley

    I was a border at Sacred Heart Villa in the early 50s. Having migrated
    to America from Bolzano Italy. I would very much like to have a photograph or any data concerning the school to share with my children.
    All communication is welcome

  13. I attended SHV for only one year, the year my parents went to court to argue about where I would go. It was the best year of my life. At 55, I am still friends with a few of the girls.
    The castle was thre & we played near it but never in it. We were told that it was haunted & belived it.

  14. Josefina, if you’re 55 we must have been there at the same time. I’m 56. Mother Ursala was the principal, and there was mother Cecilia, Augustina, Tecla, and Dionysius. I was there from 1963 to 1968 or 69. Do you remember someone named Vanessa or Sylvia? It would be so amazing to hear from girls I went to school there with. There was something so magical about that place. I really would love any info on how to find pictures of the school and some of the nuns from that time period.
    I would like to know some of the names of the girls you still know. I wish I would have stayed in touch with a couple of them. I’m going to try and find out how to find info and pictures of the school. Lets all try to stay in touch here on this site.

  15. (Mary) Lisa Orlando

    Finding this is mind-blowing. I would love to hear from girls who wen’t to SHV when I did. I don’t know if it makes more sense to post answers to specific post, or to do it this way, or to try to start something like a GOOGLE page.)

    My memories are primarily of trauma and victory over it, and they are very vivd. The nuns were sadistic to me and I missed my mother desperately. But I also remebr that much of what what kept me from losing my mind was the other girls. I ws there from 1955 to 1957 (2nd through 4th grade). I would most like to connect with Elizabeth Kenny and Elizabeth Veloux, but also anyone else who remembers me.

    I also went to Cabrini High for two semesters–Fall 1962 and Fall 1963. By then, I was calling myself Lisa, having dropped Mary. I would be thrilled to hear from the young women I knew then–losing contact with them was really sad: Sandy Padilla, Ruth Allegria, Jadwiga…

    Thank you so much–all of you.

  16. Susan (Reda) Rue

    Recently my sister (Rosemary) and I were talking about some childhood memories from when we lived in New York. Obviously, one of the topics was about Sacred Heart Villa where we boarded from time to time from around 1954 to 1960. My father put us in SHV when my mother was hospitalized for a year with TB and he was unable to take care of us full time because of his business interests so he entrusted us to the care of the nuns (at the time I was 4 and my sister 6). He was only able to visit on the weekends and would be greeted with hugs and kissed by us and another young girl named Maria whose father never seemed to make it there as he traveled alot. After my mom got better we only boarded sporadically.

    For the most part the nuns were our caregivers and some were so loving like Mother Felitchitus (sp)who was in charge of the dorms for the very young kids and taught either Kindergarten or 1st and 2nd Grade, and Mother Tecla (sp)who was in charge of one of the older dorm and taught the 3rd and 4th Grade. Then there were those nuns who were quite terrorizing,like Mother Thomasina who left after her first year after making several student’s lives quite miserable. After the death of my father and then my grandfather we moved to Florida to live with my grandmother, so neither my sister or I graduated from SHV. The memories still linger though of special times like the Christmas plays, the wonderful bazaars to raise money, and of course the crowning of Mary in May at that beautiful grotto. The most vivid memory though, is about one student who I spent time with at and away from school, and to me she will always be a little angel who said her rosary faithfully every night. Her name was Debbie Priester (sp) and after we moved away I learned that she had been sick and died at around age 10 from Leukemia. I just know that she is in heaven.

    I did visit the school(now nursing home I guess) quite a few years ago but did not see the grotto, so I am not sure if it still exists or was torn down. I do hope to make it back up there again one of these days and see some of the old places from my childhood, though most of them have changed.

    I am glad to see that there are others on here who share some of the same memories as myself and my sister. I know life goes on but it is also sad to see that things change and are not recognizable. May God Bless all of you and thanks for letting me share a few memories,

    Susan (Reda) Rue

    One other person I’d like to also mention that to me was quite sweet and part of the staff, and that would be Matilda since she just always seemed to be very kind in that sometimes scary place.

  17. Susan (Reda) Rue

    Recently my sister (Rosemary) and I were talking about some childhood memories from when we lived in New York. Obviously, one of the topics was about Sacred Heart Villa where we boarded from time to time from around 1954 to 1960. My father put us in SHV when my mother was hospitalized for a year with TB and he was unable to take care of us full time because of his business interests so he entrusted us to the care of the nuns (at the time I was 4 and my sister 6). He was only able to visit on the weekends and would be greeted with hugs and kisses by us and another young girl named Maria whose father never seemed to make it there as he traveled alot. After my mom got better we only boarded sporadically.

    For the most part the nuns were our caregivers and some were so loving like Mother Felitchitus (sp)who was in charge of the dorms for the very young kids and taught either Kindergarten or 1st and 2nd Grade, and Mother Tecla (sp)who was in charge of one of the older dorm and taught the 3rd and 4th Grade. Then there were those nuns who were quite terrorizing,like Mother Thomasina who left after her first year after making several student’s lives quite miserable. After the death of my father and then my grandfather we moved to Florida to live with my grandmother, so neither my sister or I graduated from SHV. The memories still linger though of special times like the Christmas plays, the wonderful bazaars to raise money, and of course the crowning of Mary in May at that beautiful grotto. The most vivid memory though, is about one student who I spent time with at and away from school, and to me she will always be a little angel who said her rosary faithfully every night. Her name was Debbie Priester (sp) and after we moved away I learned that she had been sick and died at around age 10 from Leukemia. I just know that she is in heaven.

    I did visit the school(now nursing home I guess) quite a few years ago but did not see the grotto, so I am not sure if it still exists or was torn down. I do hope to make it back up there again one of these days and see some of the old places from my childhood, though most of them have changed.

    I am glad to see that there are others on here who share some of the same memories as myself and my sister. I know life goes on but it is also sad to see that things change and are not recognizable. May God Bless all of you and thanks for letting me share a few memories.

    Susan (Reda) Rue

    One other person I’d like to also mention that to me was quite sweet and part of the staff, and that would be Matilda since she just always seemed to be very kind in that sometimes scary place.

    • Oh good heavens,Sue ..Lol.

      I’m a,little,do who was,dropped and broken falling off my mom us,knee …

      I thought that song was from something else,..Lol…gets,in my head to this,day …

      Remember when I was,dressed as a,man..Clement C Moore..And had to recite the ENTIRE. NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,..used Our cousins clothes, !!!!!!

      I hated having to leAve home and go to Scholl…But I loved the VILLA..

  18. I attended SHV for one year only, 8th grade. My cousin went there and we were very close. It was a very difficult time at home and for me it was a refuge where I flourished. My teacher was Mother Veronica (7th and 8th grade combined). She was an inspiration and perhaps one of the first teachers I had who expected me to think and not just memorize information. She was the person who taught me critical thinking without my knowing it. There are 2 memories that were family lore. One is that from having to climb to the basement for chapel to the top floor for the dorm and everywhere in between, I dropped 20 lbs. between September and Christmas. The pants for my costume for the Christmas play did not fit! When my cousin was there before me she would come home and her mother would ask about what they fed us and she always said :some orange stuff and some green stuff” (I think it was peas and carrots so overcooked as to be hardly recognizable. When I started my aunt said we would finally find out what was being served. I came home and said :some orange stuff and some green stuff”:)

  19. I came across this site and see there are quite a few people here from Cabrini, I was in Mother Cabrini Home in West Park NY. 12493 if anyone here was from this Cabrini Home from the 50′s and the 70′s we have a web site on FaceBook called Mother Cabrini Home, we are looking for all who were there, we have pictures posted there also so if any of you were there in these years please check out the site,
    Thank You

  20. I was reading a very old Life magazine this week from Oct 7, 1940. In it was an article about a terrible child custody dispute over a child named Jacqueline Long. The parents Frank J Long and Louise 9Bunny) Howard) had waged an actual physical tug-of-war over the child after a court hearing in New York. The judge ordered the child back to a boarding school that her mother had enrolled her in until the case could be decided.
    I was haunted by the photos so I did a little bit more internet searching.
    A Milwaukee Sentinel dated December 1, 1940 said that Jacqueline had been sent to Sacred Heart Villa Academy for Girls (or something) in Dobbs Ferry NY, where she had refused to eat and had died after six weeks of a broken heart -six years old.
    I was unable to find anymore information on the internet so I don’t know if that was true or over dramatized. I hope it is not a true story. How terribly sad. Any other information much appreciated.

  21. I was at SHV from 1953 to 1962. I still often have dreams about the place. The formal front staircase reminds me so much of the one in Harry Potter. My memories:

    Mother Stellamaris as principal in her front office. The scary Open-Heart Jesus and that black and white tile entry floor. The breakfast room for the priest. And the smell of furniture polish everywhere.

    The little nun who stamped out the hosts in the tiny sacristy and babysat me after class til my parents came to pick me up and let me eat the extra edges. . Being beat up by the second grade nun (Mother Felicity?)for reversing my teen numbers. ( It turns out I am dyslexic.)
    Mother Tecla who was actually a very good teacher in 3rd and 4th grade and got interested in science and history. The dreadful horrid Mother Thomasina who beat me up quite often in 6th grade and should have been arrested for child abuse. Remember that punch thing and how she’d attack with that darn ruler?
    My wonderful 7th and 8th grade teacher — Mother Mercedes. Who almost made up for it all. I remember sitting in assembly in front of that Victorian stage and watching astronauts on a tiny black and white TV. I glanced out the terrace and saw an eagle floating by the river on an ice floe and no one believed me til it was on the news.
    I had to board there when my mother was sick when I was about 6 or 7. That severe nursery nun was not very good with children and i cried myslef to sleep .
    I remember the scary attic where someone mythic lived among the scenery and costumes and the off limits places like where the nuns lived on the third floor where we were convinced they wore hair shirts and scourged themselves.
    I remember the horrible food and boiled mystery meat. We made buttered lettuce sandwiches to keep from being too hungry. And getting cookies and milk and juice in the large pavilion off the playground. I remember Matilda and Lena.
    Best of all I remember the other part where we were not often allowed to play. An adjacent Italianate abandoned mansion on the other half of the property where we gathered acorns. The lawn ended in a cliff where there was a rickety log octagonal summerhouse jutting out into nowhere which we were forbidden to enter. And all did, of course. I don’t know how we are alive today.
    The other amazing place was the library with those long gorgeous oak tables and that pair of genuine victorian curved glass curiousity cabinets with strange Harry Potterish specimens. Watching that movie kept bringing me up short. I kept thinking what if the audience knew there was a school that resembled it.
    The lovely wooden chapel and the gruesome stories of the martyrs every rosary time in May.
    I also remember screwing up the Christmas play when I was 6 because we each held up a letter and the teacher having switched me with an other girl didn’t realize my speech was for the wrong letter and how embarrassed I was when the audience tittered.

  22. Wow a friend of mine found this blog and knew that I attend Mother Cabrini Home from 1960 to 1963 (from age 4 to 7 1/2) when my grandparents took us home. There were four of us. My sister Mercedes and I were placed at the home at the same time (She was 3) while my older sister Miriam came a year later (at age 6) and my youngest sister Aceneett also came around a year later. She was around 2. I know that my sister Mercedes and I were in the same section as we were close in age. My youngest sister Aceneett was in a section for two year olds. What I remember most about the orphanage was play time. I remember some of the nuns being really nice and other were scary. I do remember that when any child had a birthday, we would know because they did not get regular dinner but instead were given a bonus, cake and ice cream cone. I remember Mother Madeline who was a nun and disciplinarian who did not wear the usual nun clothing garb. I remember Mrs. Clapper who was my second grade teacher. On Sundays we would watch Lassie in the big room before bed. I know we all had chores and I was also responsible for watching over my youngest sister (Aceneett) in the yellow group section. I remember being in plays and especially remember being the third little pig in a play “The Three Little Pigs. I remember the parades as I was a ballarina and during the winter after school changing my school clothing quickly so I could get a sled to share with my siblings. I remember the playgrounds where we swang on swings and jumped over the fence. The merry go round. We were tomboys at that time. I also remember the cowboy and indian reenactments up the large hill on the other side of the school. I was given the position of a nurse. I do remember the Hudson River where we would swim. I do not remember the castle. My grandparents visited us at least once a month on Sundays. We finally did leave the home in 1963. I know the orphange (which we called the home) was an all girls orphanage and became coed once the state took it over. I do not have bad memories of the orphanage but my older sister does. When we finally did leave the orphange, one of the nuns gave me a big doll that walked. It was a great present for a child who did not have much. Thank you all for sharing your memories.

  23. Just read a few more of the postings and it seems like a few of you may have been there around the same time my sister and I were there. For us, as stated above, it was 1954-1960 which for me was K-5th grade and for my sister it was the 2nd-7th. Based on what you said Gloria, I think you were a year ahead of me because Mother Thomasina taught the 5th and 6th Grade and yes, she was awful and very hard on us and especially on the boarders (at one point that year we boarded) and I remember her being angry because the class had been talking and she made us write 1000 times “I will not talk etc” while the day students had to write it a lesser amount. Mother Stellamaris asked us what we were doing because it was a Wednesday–the movie night and bless her heart she told us to finish up as much as we could and then go to the movie. That was only one of the many things I remember about Mother Thomasina but thankfully she was asked to leave before the school year was over. I heard that she was resentful because I think she thought we all were rich brats, but financially at least for us was far from the truth. I do hope that she found her calling elsewhere and was happier wherever she ended up. It is amazing the things we can remember and yet (at least for me)I sometimes can’t recall what I did yesterday!
    I am glad though that we seem to have some happier memories of our times at Sacred Heart Villa. The Christmas plays and I still remember my first play (age 5) when I was the “M” and said “M is for Christmas merriment, you feel it in the air, Jolly jokes and secrets for children everywhere”–so Gloria you and I may have been up there at the same time since you said you held up a letter. In other plays (not sure if in correct year sequence) the class were dolls who had been broken after falling off our Mother’s knee, Candy Canes and one year my friend Gretchen and I were Majorettes-can’t remember after that.
    There was the Easter egg hunts and the square dance we did one spring maybe it was near or around the mansion and I also remember some of the girls sneaking over by the wall that divided the property from the boys school I think. Well, I probably could go on and on, but for now that’s it. To our childhood memories the good and the not so good, may we cherish them always.

  24. HI ALL

    Just read a few posts ..Gloria Andolina ..I remember your name .

    Anyhow,I had,Mother Concerts. First and second ..Mother Thecla ..third and fourth..Wonderful Mother Irene ..the next two .
    Then c a me the Dread pair ..Timothy and Thomasjna,..God forgive me ..they SHOUlD NEVER have been nuns ..or allowed witH Children.

    Mother Felicitas. Taught sis in first and second ..BUT SHE was also in charge of the so called babies dorm

    I remember all with love..except for the two T s .

    Maybe they were FIRCED to be nuns ..

    MOTHERS..THECLA ..IRENE AND ROSARIO (early principal )) very strict but I love them to this,day.

    ,

    I just came across a book called PAGAN BABIES by Gloria Cascione. .so far it’s,funny ans spot on.

    The funniest I ever read was Virgins by Caryl Rivers ..But about a mixed school

    Ok one story ..I broke my nose running out to the playground ..had a saddle cast on still when mom takes me to pick up homework.

    Mother Thecla. Asks mom how,I am..borrows me to the classroom ..makes,me stand up in front of class, says,..THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS to bad girls,who run out of the school ..

    God bless her

    TAKE CARE all ..And God bless our kids,and grand kids

  25. Vicki

    You’re right it was MOTHER VERONICA,for me in Seventh ..we moved in Eighth grade ..She was nice ..But no one compares with Mother Thecla..And the poor dear was,losing her sight ..

  26. Hi, I graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1950. I would love to connect to anyone from that time period. My maiden name is Joan DiGioia. Hoping to hear from you.

  27. Margie Perez (aka Lafuente)

    I remember SHV fondly. Memories of skating at the pond and running up and down the diet kitchen staricase and doing pots and pans in the kitchen under Mother Dionysius’s eye are just a few. Mother Stella Maris was my principal too and although a little zany she had some smile. I remeber May Day and the grotto. It was still at the front to the left of the new Cabrini place when I saw it last about 15 years ago. I remember the movies on Sunday’s and the Boys town next door and the castle as well although we dreamt lazy dreams of knights in white armor we never played within. I remember the dormitories and my dear Mother Tecla who I loved. I remember her nursing me one weekend when I was too sick to go home. I remember singing all the songs I loved especially the “Magnificat” in the chapel and under the chapel and in the dorm bathrooms where the acoustics were fabulous. I remember Mother D’s famous lentil stew that I loved and everyone else hated. I remember douing pots and pans in the kitchen and putting the dishes back in the 2 floor cabinets adjoining the dining rooms. I remember Mother Tecla’s cubicle across my bed and the 8th grade dormitory which was unbelievable and a privilege to finally get into and the fabulous view of the Tappan Zee Bridge. I learned how to make hospital beds and polish wooden floors with commercial polishers. I studied piano and loved Mother Margaret and hated Mother Ursula who I heard later left the “nunhood”. Thank God, she was a witch. I still get in touch with some of the girls who I graduated with and went on to St. Mary’s in Sloatsburg. All in all I loved it and have pictures although Packed away. It was along time ago and now at 62 some memories a little dim but never forgotten. I was there almost 5 years and loved it–graduated 1964. If anyone I know wants to get in touch just friend me on Facebook. Love ya ll.

    • Dalia Rosa Halpern

      I remember you very well Margie. I am Dalia. And I had a mad crush on a neighborhood boy of yours that I met at a party you gave. It came to nothing. But I pined for him for months. I share your great memories of SHV. But my group never had to do the dishes. I was there for 6th 7th and 8th grade. I do remember the delicious pastries the nuns would put out for us when we were at evening recess. They were placed on a basket near the downstairs kitchen. So many memories. All good! I love the more in memory than living them. I remember getting homesick. And I remember Mother Ursula. If she left the nuns I wonder what she did afterward. My favorite was Mother Thecla. She used to call me “chooch” donkey in Italian. I felt it was a term of endearment and loved it when she called me that. I used to dust the tables with all the little curios on them. I was given that chore the entire 3 years I was there. I was in the main dormitory for 6th grade and when on to the little one in back with the 7th and 8th graders for the remaining two. It was really for the 8th graders. But one of them behaved badly and she lost the privilege. Mother Thecla made us switch. For me it was a great honor. My night and morning duty was to switch the lights on or off once the bells tolled.

  28. Hi Jennifer Nieves,

    I saw the article on the Castle form Sacred Heart Villa months ago but only now saw your comment asking for name so the SHV girls I keep up with. I don’t think I remember a Jennifer but that doesn’t mean anything ’cause I do not have perfect memory.

    If you were there in 1967-1969 you may know the following:

    Gina Perez – Georgia

    Yara Perez

    Giselle Chamizo – Florida

    Lillian Mallo – North Carolina

    Allison (Heather) Steele – Arizona

    Miss O”Brien – Florida

    You can find us on facebook.

    I was on the 2nd floor dorm. Some of the other girls I remember:

    Sylvia Ruiz

    Maria Lopez

    Maria Arias

    Sabrina Mayer (deceased)

    Mary Renaud

    Liz O’Toole

    Rosanne Sprague

    Nancy

    Jeannie Onorato

    Nina Bowles

    Seynab Bernard

    Maria Alfaro

    Gemma Hernandez

    Edith

    Maria Rodriguez

    Ina

    Dora

    Gloria

    Robin

    Ally

    My e-mail is Joval2011@aol.com

  29. Jennifer (Carmen) Nieves

    OMG. I haven’t been checking into this site for replies for a long time,and was so pleasantly surprised when I saw posts from this year. Josefina, thank you for responding. I do remember some of those names. Such as Maria Arias, Maria Lopez, Allison Steele, the Sprague sisters, I remember them as both being very tiny for some reason.
    Do you remember Vanessa Olivieri, I absolutely loved her. I remember a Sylvia,but I’m not sure of her last name, I don’t think it was Ruiz. I think it was Perez.
    Anyway, I was so happy to see more recent posts from this year from other people who went there. Some were there much earlier than I was. I was 1965-69.
    It is so difficult to find any pictures of the school on any sites, but I’m glad that there’s this site at least. I have so many memories,good and bad of the school. But there wa something grand and magical about it.
    Lets all stay in touch.
    My e mail is jtveyes@yahoo.com for anyone who wants to send pictures or stay in touch.
    Best wishes to all.

    • Hi Josefina…omg…How funny to come on this page. I was Nina Bowles, now Royal. Below is what I wrote on Ancestry. Btw, I did not know about Sabina. How did she die? The last time I saw her, many many years ago, she was very depressed and had a strange life. I ended up going to Marymount in NYC..along with Leslie DiMaio, who was a year ahead of us.
      I went to SacredHeart Villa in the 4th and 5th grade. I am trying to remember the exact years. Mother Casimir was my 4th grade teacher…I think we sat with the 3rd grade as well. Maybe 1965-1967. My name was Nina Bowles. I remember Gina Perez, Sabina mager, who was my best friend and Seynab Baydoun. Marie Renard…Josephine Castro…Leslie DiMaio. Roseanne Sprague…Alison Steele (who’s mom was a famous DJ of the same name.)
      When I was in 4th grade I was in the dormitory with Mother Dionysius..OMG, yes, she was really mean! Mother Ursula, a younger nun, was principle then. She was super sweet and confident. Beautiful too.
      And then I was put in the other long dorm for 5th grade. What was her name? Mother ALBINA! Cranky nun, too! Mother Aloyisius was the meanie principle.
      Remember Lena in the kitchen?? She had all those warts on her face and was so sweet to us. Lentils..omg, so gross. Oatmeal was awful too.
      I was always causing trouble. We would walk around the edges of the chapel roof from our dorm room.
      Movie night…remember OLD YELLER?
      Candy every afternoon.
      The really fun to ride merry go round that went up and down.
      The swings.
      Chapel if u were bad (I was always there!)
      I have to say I really hated it there. The nuns were pretty mean. I missed my parents. I was glad to leave:)
      It was extraordinarily beautiful, though. I loved the Hudson River views.
      Anyone have any other fun memories, let me know!

    • I remember you, Carmem:) It is Nina Bowles…look at my reply below to Josefina. Big hug…Nina

  30. Maricarmen jimenez

    Hi girls! Finding this site had given me some closure to the fragmented memories I had of the school. Most of your memories are kind of positive mixed with the reality I experienced ! My stay was in 1958 third grade boarder I remember the castle, the play areas and where we were given the cookie brought from our families! As I said my expereince was very sad, I would cry every night to sleep and Mother Tecala would hit me with the ruler because I did not know the time tables! she would make us open our hands stretched out so it would hurt terribly. She was a nasty and bitter person without any compassion, any way thanks to all of you for sharing your memories, I can be reached in face book Maricarmen Jimenez-Sors

    • Oh dear ..that’s,not at all how,I remember things,Maria, and I was,there around,that time …though ahead,of you .

      …I remember Mother Thecla, and she did in occasion use a ruler

      As very strict …Lol..She,used my broken nose as a class,lesson..NOT TO RUN on our way outside,

      …But I loved her dearly…She,was a dear lady .

      Boarding was always a sad thing as it meant no parents,…our mom had been sick and then our dad died in 1957

      But most of the nuns,were like mothers to us,..with the exception of he two younger. Ones,who came in the sixties,..

      I guess,we a had different e experience…
      I had Rosaria, Concetta, Irene ..Felicotas, Stella,Maris,…with good feeling ..mostly and,Thscla and Irene and,Rosaria were my favorites..

      I’m sorry you were,so sad…You might remember Susan ..my sis,.

      GOD BLESS,you all.

  31. I came across this site and see there are quite a few people here from Cabrini, I was in Mother Cabrini Home in West Park NY. 12493 if anyone here was from this Cabrini Home from the 50′s and the 70′s we have a web site on FaceBook called Mother Cabrini Home, we are looking for all who were there, we have pictures posted there also so if any of you were there in these years please check out the site,
    Thank You

  32. (Mary) Lisa Orlando

    I too have been checking back. Thank you, Maricarmen. You seem to have known the same Mother Thecla I knew. Mother Thecla almost caused me to lose my mind when I was seven. She accused me of something i didn’t do, then pinned me against the blackboard–we were alone–and told me she would never let me go, unless I admitted that I’d done it. Just as i felt her take over my mind–I started to doubt my own memory, and think maybe she was right–a miracle happened. My brain felt like it popped, and I realized what I had to do: I lied for the first time in my life and “admitted” that I did it. Thank You, Holy Mother.

    And then there was the potato salad in the napkin, under the dining table, and I was accused of that, and they made me kneel all night on the hardwood floor in the hall. But they couldn’t make me cry (thank You again). As my sister (who was 5, and utterly traumatized by witnessing this stuff) reminds me, that wasn’t the only example of outright torture. She remembers a little girl who wet her bed–they made her stand during breakfast, with her pee-soaked sheets draped over her head.

    Do the rest of you not remember this kind of shit, or do you think it was okay? It feels like most of you lived in an alternate universe. I lived in a convent run by Nazis and collaborators. But I also remember that they were always nice to my sister (like Hitler was nice to dogs). She’s spent her life trying to make up for her guilt over that.

    Given what’s finally come out about this wonderful religion, I guess I should be grateful I wasn’t sexually abused.

  33. My mother and her 2 sisters lived in this orphanage between 1922 and about 1932. They were children of an Italian immigrant who could not care for them. My mother is no longer alive but I remember the stories she did share about the home. They were not particularly happy memories. I would love to get more info about the home during that time period. Although my mother had a very difficult childhood, she was the most wonderful person in the world. She was a determined, loving, devoted mother and I only wish I could be the person she was. I am sure most of those residents of that era are now deceased but I would love to connect with others who know of that time.

  34. Marili Ruano Ellis

    I graduated from the 8th grade in 1955. Mother Rosaria was the principal, mother Tehcla in the dorm and mother Andrew was my piano teacher. My father was a musician and travelled all over, so I needed to be in boarding school.
    I loved my years there. I was the editor of the school paper. Is there anyone out there who remembers this? I’m looking for Pat White and Eleanor Murdock (she was the only Protestant, however attended Mass every day)
    I’m a mother of three (one in heaven) and the grandmother of three. George, my beloved husband died recently. I’m a social worker, live in Rome, work with 500 homeless. Please write to me, I’d like to recuperate a little of the past.
    Recently I found mother Andrew, now called Marie Petersen. She is in the Cabrini home in New York, 86 . I call and write Regularly and we exchange many happy memories. Does anyone have the 1955 yearbook? I lost mine but would like to know the names of my class. Love to all. Marili

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