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It sits on a hill just outside of New York City, completely empty and, for years, decaying and nearly forgotten…
This is Alder Manor, and it’s without question one of the most amazing places I’ve ever had the pleasure of scouting. Built in 1912 by William Boyce Thompson, an extremely successful copper magnate, his plan was for a 72-room country estate for entertaining (he lived in New York City at the time) on 22 acres of hilltop land in then rural Yonkers.
After both he and his wife died, the mansion was traded between owners who had no use for it and eventually wound up abandoned. Thankfully, it’s been purchased in recent years, and its restoration is slowly taking shape.
When you first enter, you find yourself in the enormous Main Hall, with the huge grand staircase off to one side. This is about when you start to wonder how such a place could ever be abandoned.
Reverse of the main hall. We’re going to start by heading down that hallway…
Which leads to the incredible library:
Standing in the reverse corner, with a great stone fireplace and working chandeliers. I especially love how the books go over the doorway.
From a distance, the room looks like it’s in excellent condition. It’s only when you get a little closer that you realize how much restoration is needed. Wood is rotting, the paint is fading and chipped…This gives you a better idea (still, a great candidate for restoration):
Next door to the library is the Ballroom, with rich reds and blues complementing the mahogany woodwork:
A painting over the fireplace is still in excellent shape:
Across the hall is the dining room, as a short hallway behind where I was standing leads to the Kitchen:
Heading now upstairs…
Brings you to the second floor landing, featuring an organ…
…which connects to pipes way up on the third floor.
My favorite room in Alder Manor is just down the hall from the pipe organ: an indoor pool. On the second floor. Built in 1912.
It’d be so great to see this restored to working order. The faded lime green paint, the black and white tiling on the pool…Apparently, there used to be antique Tiffany glass here, until someone found out and stole it.
As you’re walking through the mansion, there are tons of artistic details to be found everywhere, like this bit of a ceiling painting:
Scenic door painting:
Found on another door:
This was the design on the wall abutting the stairs:
There are also a few missing details…
Besides the pool, the second and third floors are essentially endless amounts of bedrooms…
Some have been fixed up.
At the end of the second floor is a conservatory and small balcony:
The gardens behind the manor are absolutely beautiful despite their decay:
A gazebo in perfect condition, along with a pool:
A beheaded eagle greets you when you enter through this gate:
A wall with various reliefs:
A Greek theater, where plays and other entertainments were once performed:
A reader writes:
“I worked at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research from 1955-1978 when the Institute moved to the Cornell University campus. It’s still there and is housed in a beautiful building constructed by Cornell. I visited Alder Manor several times over the years, including two weddings. Its beauty is self evident from the photos. Col. Thompson (an honorary title) loved his gardens so much that he decided to build and endow a plant research institution to learn how plants “work”. It was finished in 1923 and dedicated in 1924.
“Shortly after the Sisters of Mercy took over the estate, a piece of pottery was discovered in a cabinet. It turned out to be extremely valuable. As I understand it, it was Etruscan and was sold for “more money than was paid for the estate”. At least that’s the story I was told.
“W.B. Thompson was quite a man. The Colonel title was bestowed upon him when he led a mission to Russia after WW I. He actually gave some money to feed Russians in poverty and became known as the ‘Red of Wall Street.'”
If you’re interested in using Alder Manor for an event, film shoot, or pretty much anything, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS – For anyone counting, there was a front hall, library, ballroom, dining room, kitchen, and conservatory. In addition, there were empty rooms on the ground floor that could have easily served as the billiard room, lounge, and study.
PPS – Across the street from the manor in FAR worse shape is the abandoned Boyce Research Institute. I took some pictures which I’ll post in a future entry.
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