Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, NY

One of my favorite buildings in the Hudson Valley is the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Seminary which is located on a hilltop high above the Hudson River in Ossining (Bing Aerial).

According to American Architecture, Westchester County, New York by Frank Sanchis, architects Charles Maginnis and Timothy Walsh, influential and prolific designers of churches and religious buildings, designed the enormous fieldstone seminary. Construction began in 1920 and continued through the completion of the last section of the building, a chapel, in 1956.

Maryknoll (“Mary’s Knoll”) is actually a name shared by three organizations of the Catholic Church: the Fathers and Brothers, who occupy the main building (shown here) west of Ryder Road; the Sisters, who have the large building east of Ryder Road (Bing Aerial); and the Lay Missioners, who occupied until recently a nearby house (Bing Aerial).

The Maryknoll organization trains young men for service in foreign missions. The group formed in 1911, and by 1918 three missionaries served in China. Soon work spread to include Korea and, in the 1940s, Latin America and Africa.

Maginnis and Walsh’s choice of architecture reflects Maryknoll’s service in China. Oriental motifs are expressed in the roof and tower. The grounds and seminary building are open to the public at certain hours. Inside the seminary, visitors can peruse a small display of artifacts and photographs related to the Ossining sites, a museum devoted to the work of missionaries, and a gift shop (which I did not locate on my recent brief visit.)

In his landmark 1939 book The Hudson, Carl Carmer claimed that the “Catholic Church owns more land on the shores of the Hudson than any other religious organization and houses tens of thousands of its votaries” in its riverfront institutions. I’d like to know where those numbers stand today, as so many churches, monasteries, religious schools and organizations have closed their doors in the last 30 or 40 years. Every so often, there is a newspaper article about the “dwindling band of brothers,” or an article about declining revenue and the reduction in the number of countries where missions are located.

Maryknoll under construction.

I hope Maryknoll continues for many years to stay above it all and keep this grand old building alive. Should they ever cease to operate in Ossining, it would be terrible for another perfectly good building to sit empty for a few years and then be deemed “too far gone” so that it could be demolished to make way for an all-new development (see: Briarcliff Lodge). On the flip side, an old Catholic campus at Tarrytown was rescued when a language school for foreign students took over the former Marymount College. And more recently, the Bruderhof has acquired the former Mt. St. Alphonsus Retreat Center in Ulster County.

All photographs were taken January 20, 2012.

For a few minutes, it was like I was back in Sicily, watching the afternoon ritual of birds swarming the church towers.

This entry was posted in Non-ruins, Westchester County. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, NY

  1. Peggy Spell says:

    Thanks for those pictures. My great uncle was a Maryknoll Missionary. He became a Bishop in Tanzania. I have never been to Ossing. Other members of my family have. I might have been there when I was too young to remember. We are from Hartford Ct. I now live in Charleston SC

  2. Bern says:

    Rob, great pix!
    I work for the Fathers and never get tired of the beautiful historical grounds.
    Sorry you missed the Gift Shop: it’s got some wonderful items from around the world, plus cards and books. It’s located on the right side of the main corridor in the photo 5 up from the end of the post. The sign is not out so I guess it was closed when you where there.

    • HV-Rob says:

      Thank you! I do plan to return and spend more time photographing Maryknoll. I’ll make sure to better time my visit (it was late in the day) and see the shop.


  3. Agnes Anderson says:

    The pictures posted trully are beautiful !!! Keep up the good work .

  4. TERRY says:


  5. Scott Craven says:

    Nice work as usual, I grew up in the area and as kids we would take a break from soccer and go to the old farmhouse just to the west and use their hand operated pump for water, but you always had to leave a cup filled with water on the pump when you were done so the next person could prime it. There was a big shootout up there in 64 when they tried to rob the post office, supposedly there is an actual film of it.

    • HV-Rob says:

      Thanks Scott! I didn’t know about the old farmhouse, I gather it is gone now? I don’t see it int he aerial photos. I just looked up that robbery on the New York Times and there are a couple of articles. Can’t see them however as the Westchester Library System cancelled their Proquest account for library patrons to view the Times for free. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  6. Chris McHugh says:

    We would love to carry your blog on Please shoot me an email.

  7. Susan Kaup Kelley, Ed.d., S.T.L. says:

    Your photographs are lovely, especially the photographs of architectural detail. I am writing a book on Maginnis and TRULY APPRECIATE the work you show us on these pages. I would love to include some of your photos in the book! If this is all right with you, perhaps you would let me know how we would go about it!

    CDM’s connection to Maryknoll through his partner’s brother gives special meaning to the buildings in NY and CA. Congratulations in capturing the detailed care which shows this to us!

  8. We are a print magazine that is reader-contributed content. We have a submission for our Fall issue about the Maryknolls. Researching images we came across your site, and would very much like to use many of the images for the article. If you are interested please contact me at your earliest.


  9. MaryLee T. Bradley says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures. The first picture moved me the most for I took me back to the weekend I was there in the ’50s for my uncle’s ordination. He too was sent to what was then known as British East Africa, Tanganyika, today Tanzania. Whenever I cross the Tappan Zee Bridge going north, I try to see if I can see Maryknoll.

  10. Mary Fischetti says:

    I have some photos from the mid-fifties when my dad was helping to build something there at the seminary. Would anyone want them? I just need to know where to send them.

  11. Pingback: The Spiritual Pilgrimage: A Reflection « Reality and Illusions

  12. Nancy DeVries says:

    Beautiful photos. I have sailed on the Hudson River, below Ossining, and know first hand how lovely the area truly is. Thanks for sharing your vision from the shoreside. I came upon your side, because I was researching Maryknolls after having visited with some of the fathers in their respective cities in southeast Asia. These were memorable evenings with Fr. Galvin in Hongkong, Fr. O’Brien in Hanoi, Fr. Kofski in Myanmar and Fr. Thaler in Kathmandu. I do hope to visit the main headquarters in 2013.

  13. Pam Brucker says:

    Thank you so much for these wonderful pictures. I am a nurse and had the honor of caring for Father Tom Morris in 1967 in Oak Park Illinois. He did however have cancer and traveled back home to New York to a cancer hospital there. He was so helpful to me in my spiritual walk and invited me to Maryknoll in Glen Ellyn Illinois where he had been teaching. I recently happened to find an old encouraging letter that he had written to me WAY back in 1967, thus brought me to this website to learn more about Maryknoll. Is there a cemetary there, in New York where Father Morris is buried? Again, thank you so much.

  14. Agnes Romlein says:

    Taught by Maryknoll sisters and priest at Transfiguration in NYC. Helped out in the rectory after school, Saturdays & Sundays… loved all the priests & nuns I knew through many years. Been to Maryknoll for ordinations, mission assignments and funerals.
    Going back this week to meet with a priest I have not seen in 58 years. I was a little girl & he was a newly ordained priest sent to our parish.

    the grounds and buildings are magnificent :)

  15. Rich Thurston says:

    Terrific photographic journey. My sister’s late husband was from the Perna family, whose firm, Louis Perna and Sons, did the stonework for the Seminary in the ’20’s and ’30’s, as well as for many other massive buildings in the Northeast, including a dormitory at Georgetown University and the St. Bernardinus complex in Baltimore. I just recently discovered a beautiful old promotional booklet (which term doesn’t do the production quality justice) of theirs which includes a full-page picture of the building. I am having the pages scanned and would be glad to send the relevant one to anyone who wants it.

  16. Susan Zucconi says:

    Thanks so much for the truly lovely pictures of Maryknoll. My husbands family lived on Pines Bridge Road and his mother used to go every Sunday and visit the chapel to pray in the afternoons. This was her quiet time and after visiting there I can understand why.
    I have been reading the book The Grunt Padre. It depicts the life of
    Father Vincent Capadonna who was a Maryknoll priest who served and died in the Vietnam war. He lived and died as a missionary to the men he served in the Marines. Thanks, again your pictures touched my heart.

  17. MaryEllen B. says:

    Loved your pictures. My beloved uncle, Father Joseph Halpin, just retired to the Motherhouse after 62 years in Guatemala. We visited him in Guatemala and now look forward to visiting him back at Maryknoll. Your pictures are inviting images for our St. Louis family.

    • Dr Phil Isenberg says:

      I set up a dental clinic in 1974 at the mission at La Democracia,Guatemala and enjoyed Padre Joe’s life’s adventures. .We corresponded when he was in Guatemala City and unfortunately never took him up on his invitation to visit.
      I was sorry to learn of his passing.

  18. Patricia Fennessey Cala says:

    I have been to Maryknoll at least once. Once for the wake of Father Raymond Hanrihan, I think that was his name. He was the nephew of my grand aunt. Now that could have been the name of another priest in the family from Ireland. Father Served in China. His final visit to Maryknoww was where his wake was held, in about 1951 to 1955.
    My family lived in Yonkers and would pass Maryknoll often on Broadway on the way to Albany.
    I have a friend at Church, He has a Ph D in Japanese and is doing PG at Stanford, Palo Alto, CA. He also studies at Berkley, CA. He has been searching for a position. Could you use a Jananese teacher? He has been looking for an administrative position.
    He is from the South East of the US and is a convert to Catholicism, and attends the Latin Mass and takes up the hosts. We are in the St. Thomas Parish, St. Thomas Church, in the diocese of San Jose, CA. With Love and Good Wishes, Patricia Fennessey Cala. Palo Alto, CA 94303

  19. Bernice Byrne says:

    Dear Father,
    I am seeking information regarding Father Frederick Duguay. He was born on 11/11/1894 in Bernicie Spring, ? Canada. He was the son of Alexandre and Elizabeth
    Duguay. My mother told our family Fr. Duguay was a relative to our father, Francis W. Himes and he was a Maryknoll priest. My mother thought he served in China. When you have some time could you tell me how I can research this information. Your assistance will be appreciated. Thank you.
    Peace, love, joy and strength,
    Bernice Byrne

  20. Janet Holahan says:

    My mother was a Maryknoll sister for eight years. She decided she wanted to have a family of her own and chose not to take her final vows. Although she decided to leave, she shared Maryknoll with my brother and I. has always been at the heart of our family. Now that I am grown, I understand more about the history of Maryknoll and the many sacrifices the Maryknoll brothers and sisters have made. I enjoyed reading this article about the Maryknoll grounds. Thank you for writing and sharing a beautiful article about a beautiful place.

  21. Nelly says:

    Beautiful pictures!!! I recently got to understand that there is something of a nursing home here, but I’ve been unable to see it online. Do you happen to have a link to their nursing facility or something close to it, in order to see positions available? I’m an RN. Thank you

  22. Nelly says:

    Oh! I just found it :) Thanks

  23. greg schrader says:

    I served the first mass in 1960 or so at Maryknoll. I see many articles about his work in Korea, but have never known how to contact him. I would love to let him know he is in my thoughts and prayers every day. Greg Schrader (of PLEASANTVILLE, NY)
    3901 Ridge Rd #23, Cheyenne, WY 82001. (307) 514-4791
    Thank you

  24. greg schrader says:

    re Father Gerard Hammond. Sorry I missed putting his name in my post hoping to find a way to contact him.

  25. Charles E. Rand says:

    I was there in the sixties I never was or have been at peace like what I found that day.

  26. Thomas Fissell says:

    I am the grandson of William Henry Fissell the original building contractor of the Maryknoll Seminary. I graduated from Pace University at Pleasantville in 1971 and never was aware of the history of this absolutely magnificent building as it relates to my family. Small world!!!!

  27. Marianne says:

    Nice photos and helpful information. I too am a photographer. Just visited there today for the first time and plan to go back. Like you, I hope the building stays in Maryknoll’s hands for a long time to come. It’s such a beautiful spot and so well maintained. Thanks for sharing your article and photos.

  28. Agnes Romlein says:

    These photos capture the true beauty of the Maryknoll grounds which are so manicured.
    I was honored to be there 6/28/15 for my dear friend’s 60th. Anniversary of ordination.
    My husband and I visit here with him while he’s in the USA, soon he’ll be returning to South Korea to continue his work. This is truly the most peaceful place. Thanks for sharing these pictures.

  29. Maureen Duffy says:

    Beautiful photos.
    My Uncle graduated from this Maryknoll Seminary his name was Father John Lavin.
    He was my Mothers oldest brother, the oldest of 10 children.
    After graduation he was assigned to a parish in Hokkaido , Japan. I am told he deeply loved the Japanese people . Sadly he died at the tender age of 36 due to unknown reasons while serving as a Missionary Priest. I visited his grave in Kyoto in 1992 but cannot remember the church or monastery where rows and rows of deceased Priests now are at rest. I believe it was Holy Spirit Church but cannot locate that online for some reason.
    Would you or anyone reading this – be familiar with this resting place for priests in Kyoto Japan or if anyone recalls Father John Lavin from Swoyersville, PA?
    It would be nice to know a bit about his life in Japan.
    Maureen Duffy
    (daughter of Hildagarde Lavin)

    • HV-Rob says:

      Thank you! Try contacting the seminary directly for inquiries regarding priests.

    • Christine says:

      My Uncle is a Maryknooller and has been station in Japan for about 55 of his 62 years as a priest. What year did your uncle pass away? Maybe my uncle was there when your uncle was.
      He is back at Maryknooll now and I could ask him the name of the church in Toyko and about your uncle.

  30. Thaddeus Danziger says:

    “…In the South, the United States sought a leader for the new government who was both anti‐French and anti‐Com­munist. It selected Ngo Dinh Diem, who had an enviable rec­ord as a young civil servant.

    He had resigned his post when the French had reneged on promises, and he had spent the closing years of the war in exile, at the Maryknoll Semi­nary in Ossining, N. Y.”

    from David Halberstam @ NY Times, 9/14/1964

  31. Jeanne Yates says:

    My great uncle was Rev. John Mc Hugh who wrote with Rev. Call an. He also taught theology at the seminary. He visited my family in Louisville, Ky at times. He died in 1950 when I was only 9 years old.

  32. Nieves Cristina Surca Rojas says:

    Gracias, las fotos están preciosas inspiran gran paz y muchas ganas de ir a conocer ese lugar, con razón de allí salen Santos Sacerdotes, como el Padre Carmelo La Mazza, que ya está en los amorosos brazos de Nuestro Padre Eterno y Misericordioso.
    Si es voluntad de Dios este año estaré por allí. ¿Puede decirme la mejor hora para ir de visita?.
    Desde Perú, muchas bendiciones. Nieves

  33. Nieves Cristina Surca Rojas says:

    Gracias, las fotos están preciosas inspiran gran paz y muchas ganas de ir a conocer ese lugar, con razón de allí salen Santos Sacerdotes, como el Padre Carmelo La Mazza, que ya está en los amorosos brazos de Nuestro Padre Eterno y Misericordioso.
    Si es voluntad de Dios este año estaré por allí. ¿Puede decirme la mejor hora para ir de visita?.
    Desde Perú, muchas bendiciones. Nieves

  34. Gabriela Cancino Berríos says:

    I am Gabriela, from Chile. I write because I need help, i would like to receive news about a member of Mariknoll, father Lawrence Schanberger who is in St Teresa Recidence. I can’t contact him, for that reason I write you to ask some email contact in St Teresa. Please, if you have the information, send me.

    Best regards,
    Gabriela Cancino

  35. Babara Vanden Broeck Fernie says:

    Thank you for the beautiful web site. My grand parents lived down Pines Bridge Road when I was a young child. I remember passing by the monastery when I was a child.
    In the past few years, I have visited their estate and it is in the exact same condition as 60 years ago. I also visited Mary Knoll Monastery in the past few years. Just tonight ( second advent ) I put out a carved shell nativity scene I bought at the gift shop.

    Advent Blessings,
    Barbara Vanden Broeck Fernie

Leave a Reply to Janet Holahan Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>