Over on Facebook, CIRCA fan Jason Crowley hit the nail on the head with today’s Mystery Monday. Despite the presence of our fair grazers, this majestic estate is not Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park (but those who guessed that – I salute your creativity!). Folks, you’re looking at Ophir Hall (aka Reid Hall) in Purchase, NY, designed by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. You know I love my castles.
Reid Hall on fire in 1888. Courtesy Westchester County Archives.
Ophir Hall was originally the home of Ben Holladay of the Holladay Overland Mail and Express Company, and he built his stately mansion sometime after the Civil War. Whitelaw Reid was serving as the publisher and editor-in-chief of the New York Tribune in 1887 when he and his wife Elizabeth bought the 1,000-acre estate. Just one year, the house burned to the ground! Immediately thereafter, a new castle-style mansion was built by Stanford White on the footprint of the original home, using granite quarried right there on the property.
The East Library, c. 1912. Courtesy Westchester County Archives.
The Ogden Mills Library, c. 1912. Courtesy Westchester County Archives.
Ophir Hall, c. 1925. Courtesy Westchester County Archives.
Quite the place, eh? The United Nations apparently thought so in 1947, when it almost made the Reid’s former home its official headquaters. After an alternate site was chosen in New York City, Manhattanville College purchased the estate. Reid Hall now serves as the college’s Main Building.
AUTHOR ELIZABETH FINKELSTEIN
Elizabeth is the founder of CIRCA and a practicing writer, architectural historian and preservation consultant living in Brooklyn, NY. Elizabeth has loved historic houses for as long as she can remember, having grown up in an 1850’s Greek Revival gem that was lovingly restored by her parents. Elizabeth, her husband Ethan and their beagle Banjo remain on a relentless hunt for their perfect “Thanksgiving house.”