BENNET COLLEGE

(Halcyon Hall)

79 Bennet Common Way, Millbrook, NY

Status: Former Hotel; Former School; Severely Dilapidated Building; Formerly Abandoned; Completely Demolished

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By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Elisa.rolle" title="User:Elisa.rolle">Elisa.rolle</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0Link


History

The main building of this location was originally built by HJ Davison Jr in 1893 on a 22 acre site. He was publisher from New York City and was hoping to cash in on fad of New Yorkers travelling upstate to the new resorts being built. Unfortunately, the hotel/resort, called Halcyon Hall, never caught on and by the early 20th Century Mr Davison was looking for a new owner in order to avoid financial ruin. He closed down the hotel in 1901.

Bennett College (an all-girls school in Irvington, New York) was looking a new home and purchased the property in 1907. They built a chapel, stable, dormitories and other buildings on the site and used the main building for classes. The school originally taught young ladies the 4 years of high school as well as 2 years of college with diplomas in such fields as domestic sciences, equine studies, interior design and others. Shortly after moving to the Millbrook site the high school courses were dropped and the school only offered 2 year college courses. Many daughters of prominent families in the area were educated at Bennett College during its 90 year history.

By the 1970's separate schools for boys and girls were beginning to fall out of fashion at the college level. Already strapped financially the college tried its best to convert to a co-ed school by upgrading the campus to meet State education standards and attempting to co-join with another school. These attempts would eventually fail and completely bankrupt the college. Just after the fall semester began in 1978 the school was forced to close its doors forever; the girls enrolled were transferred to another college.

All furniture, books and equipment were transferred to the town’s library for safekeeping. In 1985 all archives from the school were donated to the Millbrook Library for historical significance. In 1993 the building was put on the National Register of Historic Places.

Halcyon Hall would never re-open again and suffered major damage due to the elements. With the heat turned off the water pipes burst in the winter causing the most significant damage. Today, the building is considered very dangerous and a tree even grows inside the building. It is completely fenced off. It was scheduled for demolishment in 2012 and then again in 2014 to make way for a park but the building still stands.

There were many attempts to convert the building into uses such as condos in the 1980's but all would eventually fail due to financial issues. Ownership was eventually transferred over to the Mechanics and Farmers Savings Bank but that bank failed in 1991. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation then took over ownership.

The Thorne Family bought the property in 2014 with the hopes of creating a garden and park. While the building does still stand, they are, apparently, still the owners.

Update: The building was completely demolished in the fall of 2022.


Paranormal Activity

There is said to have been suicides in the history of the school; young ladies who couldn't handle the stress of their studies or found themselves pregnant out of wedlock. The apparitions of these girls are still seen wandering the halls and rooms of the abandoned building.

The property is also said to be cursed (The Curse of Halcyon Hall) as everyone who has owned it was eventually brought to financial ruin.

Other activity: feelings of being watched both inside the building and on the grounds from the empty windows; light anomalies; mysterious mists; electrical disturbances; doors opening and closing on their own; feelings of unease and distress; disembodied voices and, rarely, physical contact with the living including pushes, tugs and pulls.