April 14, 2017 – Dobbs Ferry, NY
Difficulty – easy
Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, also called Mother Cabrini, founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Catholic religious institute that was a major support to Italian immigrants. She was the first naturalized citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, on July 7, 1946.
Mother Cabrini took over the MacKenzie School for Boys on Broadway in Dobbs Ferry and turned it into Sacred Heart Villa. It opened in 1914 as an orphanage and school on the site where the Mackenzie School building once stood. That building was razed in 1973 to make way for the Nursing Home, which officially opened in 1977 and expanded in 2009.
Sitting behind the nursing home is a castle-like structure that overlooks the Hudson River.
There are several versions of how this castle-like structure came to be. One version is that it housed nuns during their period of training and preparation.
The other version is that a local priest was building a church for his congregation and found himself with an excess 1,000 cartloads of quartz and granite stone, which he offered to Mother Cabrini.
At the sight of the sparkling blue and white stone, she exclaimed, “It looks like a castle!” and she ordered that a large open terrace with rooms on either side be built with a castle-like appearance behind the Villa.
It was built somewhere between 1914-1917 and somehow avoided the wrecking ball when they demolished the villa. I visited this “castle” a couple of years ago and most of it was covered with vegetation overgrowth which left just the turrets visible.
They have since cleared it of weeds and vines which may indicate a restoration is in its future. The view from the terrace is outstanding, with the Palisades cliffs across the Hudson River.
It’s a shame that it has sat in ruins for all these years. Who wouldn’t want to have a castle?
It would be great to see this marvelous little castle get a face lift and be returned to its former glory.
Disclaimer: Exploring abandoned and/or ruined structures can be dangerous and you could be trespassing. Should you choose to enter the property of any of the places featured on this site, do so legally.