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Behold the Curse of Upstate N.Y.'s Vaunted Halcyon Hall

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Photos: Lilyarielle (Deviantart)/Wiki/Millbrook Historical Society

Back in 1893, when summer colonies like Newport were all the rage, New York publisher H.J. Davison Jr. spent a fortune to build such a resort in Millbrook, N.Y., about 90 miles north of Manhattan in the Hudson Valley. James E. Ware, the man behind NYC's legendary Osborne apartment house, devised a 200-room, Queen Anne structure, later known as Halcyon Hall, to house the hotel, but, despite the charming hilltop location and stunning architecture, the resort failed to catch on. Davison went searching for a buyer to cut his losses and found one in 1907 when May Bennett purchased the property as the campus for Bennett College. The women's junior college soldiered on until the late '70s, when the construction of a pricey science center bankrupted the school.

A developer purchased the campus, converted the architecturally insignificant cinder block dorms into condos, but failed to find the funding necessary to convert the masterpiece main building. That developer later went broke, and ownership passed to Mechanics and Farmers Savings Bank. In a move that cemented the Hall's cursed reputation, the bank also failed, and the property ended up in the hands of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Owing to the fact that the FDIC isn't quite in the business of maintaining aging Queen Anne resorts, the place only fell further into disrepair, a condition advanced by the bursting of pipes and a leaky roof. Demolition was finally scheduled for October 2011, but, according to reports in the local papers, that demolition seems to have been delayed.

The most recent drama between the current property owner, Bennett Acquisition, and the town was over the construction of a security fence to guard against trespassing in the now-dangerous structure, as reported in the Millbrook Independent. That paper, which seems to have covered the pending demolition from the start, bears no mention of the destruction finally occurring. Still, nature has done a fine job of bringing the grand old structure down all by itself. For reams of photos from the good old days—and a few of the bad current ones—head over to Opacity.

· Bennett fencing set for early September [Millbrook Independent]
· Bennett School for Girls [Opacity]