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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[patial newspaper clipping]
Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent le Paul, and occu-
pied by the  Academy of Mount St. Vincent on the
  To reach it you take the train of the New York
Central at the Grand Central Depot, and after a
half hour s trip get out at the Mount St. Vincent
station.  Passing the station house and disregard-
ing a sign which tells you that the grounds are pri-
vate you enter a gateway and find yourself on a 
broad walk which, leading over a bridge spanning
the railway track, conducts you to the academy
  The grounds are very beautiful.  The estate is
something over fifty acres in extent, and the trees
have, been most carefully preserved.  The wide-
spreading green lawns are at this time picked out
with white daisies and yellow buttercups, while
here and there a flower bed serves to give a more
brilliant dash of color.  As you walk up the flagged
pathway you see on the right a statue of St. Joseph
and beyond it Fonthill Castle.
  The first Mount St. Vincent was built on the site
known as McGowan s Pass, now 109th street and 
Fifth avenue, and a part of Central Park.
  The land occupied by the old academy being in-
cluded in that set aside for Central Park, it was
found necessary to hunt up a new location.  Edwin
Forrest, the actor, had purchased an estate of some
fifty odd acres of land on the Hudson, and had
built Fonthill Castle.  This structure is of gray
granite in the Norman style, and is believed to have
been modeled largely on that other Fonthill Castle
in England built by Beckford, the eccentric genius
who wrote  Vathek.   Mr. Forrest was not particu-
larly fond of Fonthill, and when the then Superior of
the Sisters of Charity called on him the sale of the
estate was concluded in a short time, the price
being $100,000.  On the transfer of the title Mr.
Forrest presented his check for $5,000 as his dona-
tion to the academy.  Formal possession of the
estate was taken on February 2, 1857, when a
statue of the Immaculate Queen of Heaven was
placed in position on the ground.  The first mass
was said in an upper room of the castle on the 
Feast of the Visitation that year, and the corner
stone of the new academy was laid on September 8,
1857, by Archbishop Hughes.

[handwritten by Gunn] 
July, 1890.
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Two: page one hundred and seventeen
Description:Newspaper clipping regarding Fonthill Castle.
Subject:Beckford, William; Books and reading; Fonthill Castle (Riverdale, N.Y.); Forrest, Edwin; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Hughes, Bishop; Railroad; Railroad travel; Travel
Coverage (City/State):[Riverdale, New York]
Scan Date:2011-02-07


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Two
Description:Includes descriptions of Gunn's attempts to find drawing work among New York publishers, brief employment in an architectural office, visits to his soldier friend William Barth on Governors Island, boarding house living, drawing at actor Edwin Forrest's home at Fonthill Castle, and sailing and walking trips taken with friends.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Books and reading; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Military; Publishers and publishing; Religion; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2011 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.