A majestic relic

Floor Plan & Booklet

A transcription of this booklet can be found below.

Halcyon Hall 1948

Inside Cover

Entrance Hall

Page 1

Page 3

Page 4

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 11

Page 12

Common Room


Music Room


Ground Floor

First Floor

First Floor

Second Floor

Third Floor

College Map

Historian's Report

Booklet Transcribed
"What traveler in a beautiful country has not longed for a hotel where comforts and elegances would make life a symphony rather than a discordant note that must be endured? That Millbrook is an exceptionally lovely and beautiful spot; none will deny who has seen it. Here are roads as fine as those in Central Park and of endless number and variety. In the foreground are seen hills and dales whose lovely softness have their counterpart alone in the best scenery of England. The peculiar and unique softness of English landscape is the chief characteristic of Millbrook scenery. “How like Devonshire,” “Isle of Wight”, “Leamington”, are familiar exclamations to the hosts of Millbrook’s stately manor houses, where broad acres of fallow field, forest of Deer Park stretch for miles around. The charms of Millbrook’s scenery have but half been told. For from the verandas the foreground melts into further hills, rolling billows, ridge after ridge, until the high peaks of the “Ramapo”, “Highlands,” “Storm King,” “Shawangunk,” “Catskills,” “Hilderbergs,” “Berkshires,” and on very clear days “Green Mountains” of Vermont, rise in blue and purple background. Such air (elevation about 1000 feet) roads and scenery have not their equal in the world, and all within three hours from New York. No wonder the present inn at Millbrook refuses annually over five-hundred guests and that thrice that many do not apply owing to repeated refusals in the past “No room.”

The longed-for hotel is now about to open. Its builders have spent two years of loving thought and laborious care upon it. Nothing about the house has been deemed too lowly for thought. Every possible comfort and want of guests have been anticipated. The builders will live in the house and have carried the same enthusiasm into the fittings and furnishings of the house as though each guest were to be their own dearest friend. To try and describe the results is as impossible as to define the meaning of “lady” or “gentleman,” or to paint, the atmosphere of home. This atmosphere exists, but one must be brought in contact with it in order to feel it. Nor has the ominous shadow of any “decorator” or “cabinet” maker darkened Halcyon’s doors. Curios, pictures, books, many of historic value from all parts of the world, gleaned from years of travel, find a fitting resting place within its walls. A rare bronze with a smiling Japanese maiden may stand next a grim warrior, all in mail. Why not? These things like people have their rights and why should they be classified and imprisoned separately in rooms. From what has been said it can be seen that the name “Halcyon Hall” is not an alliterative caprice, but a name really signifying something – viz: a house wherein each hour shall contribute to each day pleasures such as make “halcyon days”. Before entering upon a general description of the house, of few of its noteworthy peculiarities might be mentioned. First, Ample piazzas, assembly room, viz: library, parlor, music room and art gallery, dining rooms, reception room, billiard room and mail hall, all with fire-places for wood fires, some of the rooms having two or more. 

The main hall is a sitting room of large capacity, where divans and easy-chairs invite repose. Here it is that gentlemen can smoke without banishment from ladies' society. Second. An athletic department, with "lockers," shower, needle bath and attendant. These invite honest exercise on the eighteen acres lawn fronting the house or on bicycle or horse. Others are open fire-places, commodious private and public baths, needle bath for ladies, large and commodious closets and divan wardrobes. Slat doors to every bedroom. Speaking tubes, electric lights, steam heats, private halls connecting suites. Subdued decorations, pictures everywhere recalling travel in or legend of every clime. Dainty and exquisite table service. Everything in fact tending to material comfort as well as to the feasting of the eye and the exciting of the imagination. 

Approaching Halcyon Hall along the finely kept road the spectacle is an imposing and beautiful one. Spreading out with its towers, wings, gables and chimneys, like some veritable old English hall, the building impresses itself delightfully upon the mind of the tourist who sees it for the first time. Composed as it is of field stone found in that vicinity, it is as gray and beautiful as granite, while the upper portions of the house, constructed of wood and painted in dark but perfectly harmonized colors, contrast finely with the stone work. Graceful chimneys rising at several points are also built of the gray stone of the valley, this giving a massiveness and solidity as well as a peculiarly harmonious effect in color to the building. Add to this the bright colored awnings, the great tubs and vases of brightly foliaged plants, the ferns, palms and tropical shrubs all setting off a building containing upwards of two hundred rooms, with a frontage of lawn and grounds of eighteen acres, and one forms a slight idea of Halcyon Hall as it appears to-day. In addition to the building proper there is a picturesque, rambling old farm house now thoroughly renovated, which standing as it does just across the lawn from the main building offers a delightful home for those who may desire a seclusion which Halcyon Hall does not offer, although with various suites of rooms the guests may be as secluded and as much by themselves as though they were in the quiet of their homes. 

Entering Halcyon Hall from the entrance court, and the broad porte-cochere at the east, by a perfectly kept gravel road, and through grounds set with flower-beds, shrubs and dainty fountain; or by the western entrance up a massive flight of winding stone steps, the visitor finds himself in the grand hall. At the very outset one is impressed with the air of comfort and quiet elegance which pervades every inch of this building. The grand hall is elaborate and elegant, but the perfect harmony in color and decoration as well as the lack of all attempt at over-decoration are calculated to place one immediately at home. Through the leaded glass at one end of the Main Hall one reads the motto of the house: "Thy happy clime is free, And plenty knows, And days of Halcyon rest." While on the window over this is found this inscription in Greek: "Be not unmindful to entertain strangers."

All tones are low, all the colors are subdued, both in its interior and exterior. The house, true Elizabethan, much resembling Lord Kenmare's house at Killarney, has a frontage of one hundred and forty feet, much of which is taken by this central hall, although the music room, on the same floor, is sixty-seven by thirty-eight feet with ceilings eleven to twenty-four feet high. 

On this central floor are found, as stated above, the grand hall, the music room, the library, smoking room, the magnificent dining hall with two smaller dining rooms leading from it, and the small office and reading room. Broad, massive staircases in green oak lead from cellar to roof, while the highly polished floors are either covered with choice Turkish rugs or soft velvet carpets in solid and beautiful colors. All the wood work is either painted or stained in colors to correspond and harmonize with the other decorations and surroundings. 

The library is especially attractive, this room also being used for ladies' parlor. In it are long, low and well-filled bookcases with cozy and unexpected seats and niches in which to ensconce one's self with a favorite book and dream away a summer afternoon. The great plate glass window at the northern end of the room, taking in almost the entire end, affords a splendid view of the distant mountain range. It is, however, from the upper windows that the finest view of the mountains can be secured. Here the Catskills show themselves in bold array. The music and ball room with portable stage is a marvel of its kind. Its wall are covered with paintings by celebrated artists, the private collection of Halcyon's owners. A full orchestra plays for dancing every night. Leading from this is a wide veranda of thirty feet and adjoining a small cottage which may be used by parties who desire to be more secluded than they would be in the central building. This is in every way as finally fitted as the main building, and is really a wing of it, being joined by the veranda. 

The epicure and lover of the good things of the table will find an especial charm in the quaint but beautiful dining room. One must enter it in order to fully realize its attractiveness. The tables are all small enough to seat from two to eight persons, but they may be set so as to accommodate larger parties, or either of the smaller dining rooms may be used. It is often said that the dining room should be the most attractive part of any private or public house. Certainly no room in Halcyon Hall is more attractive than this beautiful central dining hall. At one end of the hall is a great fire-place, with an opening eight feet square, with wrought iron screens and massive andirons. One each side of the mantel are tall black Florentine oak candelabra, 300 years old. At the opposite end of this hall is the magnificent Nuremburg window. This is constructed of leaded glass, and is at the end of a long broad corridor on the second floor of the building. In this window, lighted by electric lights, the Royal Russian Court Orchestra will play each night during table d’hote. The dainty and beautiful service of this house commends itself at once to the guest. There is the most exquisite silver, glass and china, and every attention is given to relieve guests from the penalty of thought in ordering; course dinners, lunch and even breakfast being provided, the menu being a mere matter of reference for those who wish to see it. In fact, as much care is taken as though the meal were served in one’s own dining room at home, and at Halcyon Hall there need be no care in the ordering of meals. A few things perfectly served will be the aim sought. For any menu which contains everything to-day can offer nothing new to-morrow. Quaint and elaborate swinging lamps in old iron, brass and bronze with the rare china and German ware and the exquisite Bohemian glass in various graceful and beautiful designs, which is artistically arranged in cabinets about the walls, all give an appearance of quiet and sumptuous elegance to this model dining room. 

This floor also contains five bedrooms Descending to the next floor, which as the house is built on a terrace is entirely out of the ground, one finds the large and airy billiard room, with a broad stone balcony leading from it, and designed for a lounging and smoking corner in warm weather. Following this is the locker room for the use of athletes, bicyclists, equestrians or others, there being individual lockers, shower and needle baths, and all that could be found in the most perfectly arranged athletic club house. It may be well to state here that a large number of the most improved bicycles may be found at Halcyon Hall for rent. While there is plenty of “coasting” in and about Millbrook, there is one level ride of twenty-six miles, with the exception of one hill. Enough cannot be said in praise of the roads for cycling, driving or tramping. They are all faultlessly kept.  In the rear of the floor above mentioned, are the kitchen, bakery, laundry, engines, machinery, electric light plants, etc. There are separate rooms for the nurses, children’s and servants’ dining rooms, and the servants’ sleeping rooms are marvels of neatness and comfort. 

The administration is entirely separate from the main building, yet connected as a wing. Returning to the upper floors, one is surprised at the home-like arrangement of the sleeping apartments; the neatness and perfect taste displayed in the finishing and furnishing of these rooms, all arranged in suites, excepting those of the upper floor, and each suite being provided with fire-places, private baths and ample closet room. All the walls of the bath-rooms are “dead”; and all the windows on this floor, as others of the house, have panel backs, avoiding any possibilities of draughts during the autumn or winter. 

The sanitary arrangements of the buildings and adjoining grounds are as near perfect as modern invention and study can make them. The system of drainage has been approved by such experts as McClintick, Herring and Webster, the system having been devised and laid out by the last-named gentleman. The whole house is heated by steam, with the addition of the fire-places, which will be used when the weather is such as to require them. The buildings are lighted by electric lights; call bells and tubes connect every room with the office. This latter room is unique and so unusual in its way that it calls for especial mention. The home idea is carried out in this as in other portions of the building. Unless one is directed to is, it would be hard indeed to find the office. 

Entering Halcyon Hall by the eastern court under the broad piazza and porte-cochere, the guest finds himself in a small entrance hall. From this leads the office, which is in a separate room hidden by a portiere. Rich hangings and draperies, finely upholstered furniture, pictures, books and bric-a-brac, all lend to this section of the house the air of a country gentleman’s home, rather than any suggestion of an hotel, and we feel that the owners have succeeded in answering their own question: “If an English country gentleman can entertain 180 guests for weeks at a time, why cannot a country hotel be built and run the same way?” On a high elevation near the main building is the water tower, which stands sixty feet in height, the water supply being pumped by steam into the tower, it holding a week’s supply, the water being furnished by an artesian well. This tower is connected with each floor of the house, and serves as an absolute protection in case of fire. The tower is surmounted by ten colored incandescent electric lights, which will burn all night, thus serving as a sort of watch-tower and beacon light for the surrounding country. It is located so it can be seen from many points in the vicinity and in fact a great distance. 

The broad, beautifully kept grounds have very little the appearance of a hotel. Tennis courts are laid out at convenient points, artistically grouped flower beds, perfectly kept gravel walks and broad driveways, all suggest the English manor house and home of the country gentleman. The three stables out at the lower end of the spacious lawn are so planned that guests who wish to bring their own carriages, coachmen and grooms, may house them as comfortably as in their city homes. In the large livery connected with the house, individual compartments are arranged for horses and carriages, so there need be no inconvenience when carriages are called out.

In this, as in all other departments of the house, the home is idea carried out. Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Davison, Jr., of New York and Millbrook, are the owners of Halcyon Hall. They will make this their permanent home. The manager of the house is Henry H. Valentine, who although a young man is very widely and favourably known in hotel circles. Dr. J. O. Pingry has a cottage but a few rods from Halcyon Hall and in the same enclosure; James E. Ware of New York was the architect. Mead & Taft of Cornwall-on-Hudson were the contractors and builders, and the drawings made expressly for this article are from the pen and brush of Thomas F. Moessner of New York."