After high school, I made a leap from Texas to attend The King’s College, a small private school in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The experience was an excellent one in many ways, not the least of which was the chance to enjoy the beautiful old building the college occupied and the surrounding splendor of the Hudson River Valley. The building was nearly 100 years old when I was there, and showed its heritage as a luxury hotel; ornate woodwork, byzantine corridors, marble stairways combined to create much more character than nearly any other “Institution of Higher Learning” I’ve seen (to use Dr. Radandt’s oft-quoted phrase).
A bit on the history of the place from Half Moon Press:
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were hosted at Briarcliff Lodge, as were Tallulah Bankhead, Johnny Weissmuller, Jimmy Walker, Babe Ruth and other luminaries. Opera diva Madame Lillian Nordica sang in the ballroom in 1911 to an audience including John D. and Laura Spelman Rockefeller, Frank A. and Narcissa Cox Vanderlip and Chauncey M. and May Palmer Depew.
Alas, the building burned to the ground several years back. The College had moved out several years previous when they closed their doors, and the structure had sat abandoned while developers and city officials wrangled over what would become of the wonderful old place.
Though the building is no more, Rob Yasinsac has stepped to the plate and released Briarcliff Lodge (Images of America), a wonderful book chronicling the history of the place from its construction to its immolation. It’s a great piece of work for anybody who spent any degree of time at Briarcliff Lodge, but was especially meaningful for me, as it has a letter some old friends of mine (Heidi Krihak, nee Grovatt, and Sherry Hvizdak, nee Young) left in their dorm room, as well as a picture of the Homecoming Court of 1990 (which happened to include yours truly).
So, thanks to Kathy for the gift. Fellow alumni, get thee to a bookstore — this one’s well worth picking up.