Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Villa Madonna ("The Villa")

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Institution Name: Mount Saint Mary College
Original/Historic Place Name: Hull's Villa until 1853, then Rozenhoff
Location on Campus: east
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1840original construction Downing, Andrew Jackson
Designer: Andrew Jackson Downing
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stone
Walls: clapboard
Roof: tile
ca. 1840-1913private residence
ca. 1913-1950residence hall
ca. 1930-1950library
ca. 1930-1950classrooms (and academic offices)
ca. 1930-1950dining hall
ca. 1950-present (2006)admissions office
ca. 1950-present (2006)administration

Although Mount Saint Mary College was incorporated as a four-year degree-granting institution of higher learning in 1960, the Mount (as it is known) traces its history back to 1882 when two Dominican Sisters, Mother Mary Hyacinth and Mother Mary Amanda, purchased the colonial home (on the south side of Gidney Avenue) of George McAlpine, which once belonged to Hiram Bennett (one of Newburgh's leading citizens). They established a Catholic elementary school in the McAlpine Residence.

The new school was on the 60+ acre estate established in 1805 by Thomas Powell, one of Newburgh's most influential citizens. The Powell estate was on the far north side of the property. Situated on the south (center) was Hull's Villa, the home of Augustus Gerald (A.G.) Hull (1810-1859), a leading homeopathic practitioner in America. His father was Amos G. Hull, another influential doctor/inventor of the time. Augustus Hull sold his estate in 1850 to Selah Reeve Van Duzer, a leading wholesale drug dealer with offices in New York City, London, and Paris. (A.G. Hull moved to the city upon the death of his father in 1850).

The Van Duzers changed the name of the estate to "Rozenhoff" and enlisted the help of Andrew Jackson Downing to transform the estate. Downing was the landscaper and architect responsible for the Smithsonian Mall in Washington DC and the head of the firm that created Central Park in New York City; unfortunately, Downing drowned in a river boat accident in 1852 before he could begin work in Central Park.

The Van Duzer family lived in Rozenhoff until 1913 (S.R. Van Duzer died in the house in 1903, his wife a year later in their winter home in Thomasville, Georgia) when, on the death of Catherine Van Duzer Burton, the family sold the estate and 48 acres of the land to the Dominican Sisters. Rozenhoff became known as the Villa Madonna, and the carriage house was named the Domus Angelorum. The Domus was converted to a music school to serve the growing Academy (offering a high school education for young women).

The Villa served a multitude of purposes, mainly as a residence, until the early 1930s, when it also became the site of the Mount's Two year Normal Training School for teachers. For more than 20 years the Villa served as a college dorm, classroom building, academic offices, a dining hall, and library.

As the college expanded, new classrooms were built and a dorm was constructed. Today the Villa is an administrative building, home to the offices of the President, Academic Vice President, Vice-President for Advancement, the Admissions Office, and the Nursing Division.


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Last update: November 2006