03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Forgotten Ruins in Dobbs Ferry

At first glance, it would be hard to figure out what this bland modern nursing home...


...has to do with these haunting, castle-like ruins:


Incredibly, they are actually within 20 feet of each other! You can see the castle just off to the left:


The establishment pictured is the St. Cabrini Nursing Home, located in Dobbs Ferry, NY (a few towns north of Yonkers). The nursing home dates back to the 1900's, when it was housed in an Italian villa on this very spot. Unfortunately, that building was torn down in the early 1970's to make-way for a more modern structure, which I believe was replaced in turn by the building pictured above.

However, something special managed to avoid the wrecking ball. If you drive into the parking lot of the nursing home and proceed to the rear, you'll see an odd castle structure poking up, completely overgrown with trees and weeds.


You might be surprised to find that this is just the first of three levels, which descend the steep hill toward the Hudson below. For anyone who takes the Hudson Line train, you can catch a glimpse of the castle just south of the Dobbs Ferry station (click the pan to see it in full size):


According to the great ruins website, Hudson Valley Ruins, this building was built in the early 1900's as part of the St. Cabrini novitiate, a training school for the nuns who ran the hospital and others like it. No clue when the building was boarded up, but as of 2001, the nursing home was actively planning to demolish it.

14 The top level features two turrets lined with crenelations (the alternating blocks on the edges, which I suppose would offer nuns ample protection when firing weapons at anyone attacking from the Hudson). The turrets are separated by a large open court:


If not for the overgrowth and assorted trash, this court would have a fantastic view, as it overlooks the Hudson at its widest portion (note: that's a very long drop off to the right).


I completely agree with HVR's Robert Yasinac when he suggests it as worth restoring simply so residents of the nursing home can sit out and watch the river on summer days. But sure, tearing it down would be a great idea too.


One of the turrets:


I love the arched stone doorway:


Strangely, the towers don't match. Not only is the right one larger than the left...


It also features different style doors...


Another view:


You can make your way down to the lower levels of the castle via a brick staircase on the left. Note the gothic windows, which have been sadly closed up with cement blocks.


You can also see an open doorway. Why didn't I go in and take pictures? Several questionable noises from within led me to strongly believe someone was inside, quite possibly someone who calls it home. I decided not to intrude.

Here's the reverse view, convincing evidence that we may have actually de-evolved in our architectural progress.


Finally, this is the front of the castle (I can't stress how incredibly steep the hill is). Both floors appear to have once been lined with enormous windows, which would have afforded incredible views of the Hudson. A shame this has fallen into ruin.


I scouted this place hoping that it might work for a medieval scene, and that the studio would be willing to pay for some level of overhaul (removing the overgrowth at the very least). Sadly, the scene was ultimately written out of the movie, and we had no use for it. Here's hoping the nursing home comes to their senses about demolishing it (check out HVR to see how bad the decay has become since 2001)

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