(As written ca. 2000)
On the inside, Briarcliff Lodge is a mess. Not a wreck or a ruin beyond repair, just a mess. A ruin it will be in the near future, no doubt. Occasional debris from The King’s College era remain, some busted computer monitors, flyers, pamphlets, etc., and some clothing left behind by explorers perhaps, a sweater here or there, and maybe some other intimate apparel. But most of the furnishings have been removed. The grand Lobby (Formal Lounge in TKC era) is a large empty space. Early photos show many fine chairs and tables underneath fancy chandeliers. Some first floor rooms, such as the ballroom, lobby and dining room are rather dark, but enough light filters in from the other rooms so that a flashlight is not needed in daytime. The ballroom opened up on the north and south sides to the long piazzas. Ionic columns stand here, with glass doors leading to a marble floored vestibule connecting the rear wing to the main building. In the vestibule was a moose head on the stone column, which is behind the fireplace in the Lobby.
(NOTE: Briarcliff Lodge and other buildings on the campus were emptied by a dismantling company in early 2000, and again in late 2000. Some locals used bathtubs for some bizarre scene, placing them in the lobby in orderly fashion, draped with the paper inscriptions “coffin” and “union and confederate dead.” What exactly this was used for, I’d be interested to know.)
Further down the hall of the main building is the Oak Room, a one floor extension on the east side of the building. The fireplace mantle has been ripped out and stolen. There was a stone, maybe marble, mantle here, with an inscription above it memorized by the truest TKC students: "Sit with me by the homestead hearth, and stretch the hands of memory forth to warm them by the fireside blaze." It is in someone’s living room now, probably. In the fireplace itself stands a red party hat on a stick. On the floor are dozens of copies of an appeals letter from a college official. They are all page four. Bay windows with broken glass, now boarded up, must have created a pleasant reading space on the benches below. Much of the paint is peeling off the walls in this, and most other rooms, but the oak panels and beams are all in good condition. South of the Oak Room is an office, once a porch. On the floor are multiple postcards of the Tuxedo Campus that was part of the downfall for The King’s College. As if the building itself didn’t offer enough reminders of ruin. A printout on the wall is religious scripture.
Most of the first floor of the main building during The King’s College era served as classroom and office space. The south end featured a modern addition which was the library. Microfiche files litter one room, along with a few reel-to-reels in the hallway. A large “artistic rendering” of the American flag painted on plywood adorned a wall in what was once a pergola during my first visit. This room adjoins the new Library. North of the pergola were the original dining rooms which allowed views in three directions. The King’s College converted this into Library space and made the Mirror Room in the basement the cafeteria. Down the hall is the President’s Office, with sliding oak doors maybe 12 feet tall. Near here is the Dutch Kitchen, which was originally decorated in rich “Rembrandt effects and a veritable treasure...of rare Chine paintings and articles of verdu.” This room also was converted to library space by The King’s College. Empty metal book shelves still remain, some standing, some knocked over. Off the lobby, or Formal lounge, was the Ballroom, with classically designed columns. .
The second, third and fourth floors of the original Lodge were women’s dorms. One room still has comics cut from magazines taped to the door. Some rooms have the names of their last occupants on the door. A 5-pack of tampons sits on a windowsill, three unused one inside, while a nearby bathroom has rolls of unwrapped toilet paper. It’s like the 3rd week of May and school just let out. The janitors just haven’t gotten around to cleaning the entire place yet. Photographic negatives of one girl were left behind in her room. A third floor bathroom features painted pipes, courtesy of some colorful denizens of the floor. other rooms are painted too, some with large floral designs over a closet door, for example. Most bathrooms have just a sink, toilet and tub. Unless it was your thing, you wouldn’t be sharing the room with another person because there are no dividers around the seats or tubs. But there are also larger communal bathrooms, added in or renovated by The King’s College.
The state of the Lodge carries reminders of when most of the furnishings removed in 1998. A start-up not-for-profit organization in need of desks, chairs and tables purchased those items - sometimes people benefit when buildings are abandoned. A firehose has been taken from its place, and wrapped across a stairway where a balustrade is now missing. The hose was used to lower furniture down the stairway instead of carrying it down.
The fourth floor is interesting, the hallway zig-zags around rooms due to the steep roofline here. Here the hallway faces one exterior wall, and the rooms face out towards the other wall (or roofline I should say). So there is not enough space for the hall to cut between two opposite rooms. A large storage space opens up from the hallway in the largest gable of the building.
Going down to the basement, one can enter through the Mirror Room, which hosted fabulous parties in the hotel days. Soda fountains from the TKC era sit in ruin on the counter here. Following the blue spray-paint arrows on the walls will lead you into the kitchen, still with its large ovens and counters and in the rear, meat freezers. A flashlight is needed here. Turning around backwards, following the floorplan of the Lodge northwards, are more offices and storage areas. Student mailboxes were on this bottom level, and the theater department had storage space here too. Inside the darkroom are bottles of old chemicals.
The rear wing, which was men’s dorms, is really nothing to look at on the inside. Completely renovated, nothing above the first floor tells you this part of the building was constructed in 1909. The first floor is the ballroom, the floors two through seven are dorms. The dorm rooms here, and in the women’s dorms, are empty. Beds, desks, and chairs have all been removed. A sheet of paper on the wall in a third floor room has schedules for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Only these games won’t be played in the future, this schedule is from 1994. (Was 1994 that long ago? I almost felt like I was time-traveling when I walked in this building). Between the men’s and women’s dorms, the Student Development Office it is posted that “men are not permitted beyond this point.” On the seventh floor, the emergency exit sign hangs loosely from the ceiling. On a February visit, paw prints of large rat, or maybe a raccoon, stamped the fresh snow on the carpet below a seventh floor window. The upper floors offer tremendous views of the Hudson River to the west, and New York City is visible towards the south, some 30 miles away.
All photographs taken February 9, 2000.
First Floor plan of Briarcliff Lodge.
Second Floor plan of Briarcliff Lodge.
Detail of a column in the Ballroom.
Briarcliff Lodge. The hall space between the Ballroom and the Lobby.
Briarcliff Lodge. The hall space between the Ballroom and the Lobby.
Briarcliff Lodge. The trashed fireplace in the Oak Room.
Smashed pieces of the plaster that surrounded the mantle litter the floor. The inscription on the mantle read :"Sit with me by the homestead hearth and stretch the hands of memory forth to warm them by the woodfires ember".
The main staircase, at the second floor, coming up from the Lobby.
The balustrade here has since been removed (April 2000).
By vandals or under owner’s order, I’m not sure.
Briarcliff Lodge. Looking down the main staircase to the Lobby, from the third floor.
Briarcliff Lodge. Looking north, in the second floor hallway.
Briarcliff Lodge. A second floor room in the women's dorms.
Briarcliff Lodge. A third floor bathroom, with some colorful piping along the wall at right.
3 - For photos of other buildings on the former campus of The Kings
The Briarcliff Lodge book
This page copyright © 2000 by Robert J.Yasinsac. All rights reserved. These images are for private, non-commercial viewing purposes only and cannot be copied or reproduced without permission from Robert Yasinsac. Any other uses of these photographs without the permission of Robert Yasinsac is strictly forbidden.