Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Reid Hall

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Institution Name: Manhattanville College
Original/Historic Place Name: Ophir Castle, Ophir Farm
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1892original construction Raht, Edward for Richard Morris Hunt
1912addition McKim, Mead & White
Designer: Edward Raht for Richard M. Hunt; McKim, Mead & White
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: stone
Roof: metal and tar
 
Function:
1892-1949private residence
ca. 2005faculty offices
ca. 2005administration (with meeting and function rooms)
 

Narrative:
This was the country home of the Whitelaw Reid family. A previous house on the site (destroyed by fire in 1888) had been built in the 1860s by Ben Holladay, the "stagecoach king."

Completed in 1892, the Ophir Farm Castle (now Reid Hall) included a five-story central tower with a turret on the southeast corner, a facade accented by arched windows grouped in twos and threes, and a veranda supported by granite piers and decorative columns. The small scale of the windows compared to the block-like mass of the building topped with battlements gave it the appearace of a fortress. The opulent interior offered a dramatic contrast to the stark exterior even after the 1912 addition. The turret was also removed at that time because Reid wanted the facade to be symmetrical.

Reid Hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974 and is an excellent example of a unique and lavish Gilded Age home. The unique Norman style, with its heavy walls and crenellations, was popular in the late 19th century in the Hudson River Valley. The main rooms in Reid Hall have hardly been changed over the past century, and visitors can still admire the pink marble walls of the entry hall and main staircase, as well as the richly carved and inlaid interiors imported from Europe.

In 1931, Ophir Farm received its first visit by royalty. When King Prajadhipok and Queen Rambhai of Siam (now Thailand) planned a trip to the United States, Mrs. Reid arranged for the royal entourage to stay at Ophir Hall. She even arranged to have a bedroom of the mansion converted into an operating room for the King's delicate eye surgery. In appreciation of her generosity, the King and Queen presented Mrs. Reid with a large marble mantel carved with water buffalo, rice fields, and other symbols of Siam. It was placed in the East Library, where it remains today.

The National Register Inventory lists the property's areas of significance as architecture, landscape architecture, and political history. In 1980, Reid Hall and the campus were listed in the New York Register of Historical Places, and the campus was designated a Harrison Historic Landmark.

Whitelaw Reid served as editor of the New York Tribune, was named Minister to France in 1889, was Benjamin Harrison's running mate in the 1892 Presidential election and was appointed Ambassador to the Court of St. James (UK) by Teddy Roosevelt in 1905. Reid's wife, Elizabeth, was the daughter of millionaire Darius Ogden Mills.

The Reid Estate (also briefly considered as a site for the U.N.) was purchased by Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in 1949. Reid Hall now houses the chief administrative offices of the College, faculty offices, and meeting and function rooms.

Gayl Braisted indicates in "The Gentleman Farmers of the Gilded Age" that Edward Raht, an associate of Richard M. Hunt, played a major role in the design of the 1892 portion of the castle; McKim, Mead & White certainly designed the 1912 addition.
 

References:

Braisted, Gayl Maxwell. "The Gentleman Farmers of the Gilded Age." M. A. thesis, Manhattanville College, 1993.

Gold, Anne. Ophir Farm and Manhattanville College. Purchase, NY: Manhattanville College, 2005.

Hibbs, Edna, Joan M. Norton, and Lynn Beebe Weaver. Reid Hall, Manhattanville College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1974.

Selected original site plans in architectural collections. Blueprints. Archives, Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY.

Whitelaw Reid Papers. Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

 

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Last update: November 2006