ABOUT REID CASTLE
To host your event at Reid Castle, is to become part of a history that began with the marriage of New York Tribune owner Whitelaw Reid and his wife, Elizabeth, who, in 1888, envisioned transforming their country home into the legendary architectural and landscaping landmark it remains today. Their time in France, where Whitelaw served as American Ambassador, informs every aspect of this jewel in the crown of Westchester's grand estates. From the marbled marvel of its gloriously gleaming reception hall, through its grand reception rooms, including original chambers imported from historic French chateaux, it represents the peak of that period's aesthetic, preserved to polished perfection in all its original detail. All this --the entire grand ground floor--is entirely yours for your wedding day. Our policy of catering weddings to only one party per day, ensures we maintain a level of exclusive service and culinary standards that are as exquisite as everything else about Reid Castle. Its grounds, designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, Central Park's visionary landscaper. Its rolling views sweeping to the waters of Long Island Sound and streaming through French doors that open to elegant terraces and other possibilities for seasonal party planning. All so near to major air, rail and interstate connections. Yet so far removed from anything anyone else within such close proximity to metropolitan New York can offer.

A Little History about Ophir Farm and Reid Castle

Ophir Farm, in 1888, became the country estate of Whitelaw Reid, owner of The New York Tribune. He and his wife, Elisabeth, filled their home with the finest decorations and the most modern Victorian appliances. It would become the first home in the Westchester area to be equipped with both telephone and electric wiring. Frederick Law Olmsted, noted landscape architect who achieved success in designing New York’s Central Park, was chosen to plan the landscaping.

On July 14, 1888, only a month before the Reids were scheduled to move in, a fire caused by a short circuit swept through the house. Within a few hours, the mansion was in ruins. Gutted granite walls were the only reminders of its pioneer glory. (Coincidentally, that same summer, the main building of the Manhattanville campus, then located on Convent Avenue in New York City, was completely destroyed by fire.)

The Reids decided to rebuild on a greater and grander scale than before. Using stone quarried on the estate for the construction, the firm of McKim, Mead & White was commissioned to assist in the plans. Appointed Ambassador to France, Reid spent most of the construction period abroad, overseeing the building of his home through correspondence. He and his wife managed to translate many of their experiences into its design and décor. When they returned in 1892 for the grand opening, the mansion - now renamed Ophir Hall - was already acclaimed as a work of art.

The formal gardens designed by Olmsted were decorated with trees and shrubs imported from France and England. Paths led out past the farmland to the borders of the land. Designed to be the home’s crowning glory, the reception hall was composed of two varieties of marble, yellow Numidian African marble and pink marble from Georgia.

Above the front staircase, an original stained glass work filtered light over the entire room. The two rooms to the right of the entrance were imported from the reception rooms for the Chateau de Billennes, the country estate of a member of the House of Napoleon III, in Poissy, France, which was being demolished.


1931


In 1931, the State Department turned to the Ambassador’s widow for help finding a residence for the King of Siam, who planned a visit to the U.S. to undergo eye surgery. During his trip, King Prajadhipok would become the first Oriental monarch to visit the White House. Mrs. Reid arranged for the royal entourage to stay at Ophir Hall and then left for one of her frequent trips to France. On board the S.S. Leviathan, she contracted a cold, which, two weeks later, turned into pneumonia. At the age of 73, she died while visiting her daughter’s villa near Nice.

The doors of Ophir Hall were closed once again.

In 1947, when Ogden Reid died, plans were launched to place much of the estate on the market. One proposal, which was defeated by the local town board, called for the construction of a shopping center and housing development. For a brief time, the grounds were also explored as a location for the United Nations, but that possibility was removed when the East River site in New York City was selected.


1949


Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, located in New York City since 1841, purchased 250 acres of the estate in July 1949. The decision to relocate the college followed long and numerous discussions among members of Manhattanville’s Board of Trustees, President Eleanor O’Byrne, R.S.C.J., and other members of the Sacred Heart School with officials of the City of New York.

Deliberations concerning specific plans for the new campus were carried on by faculty department chairpersons, who were asked to assist in designing the new Academic and Music Building and the Library. Mother O’Byrne herself contributed enormously in terms of both planning and leadership.
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