From the Ashes: Hackley Preservation Award

Hackley School's Goodhue Memorial Hall was rebuild from the ashes to its former glory and will be honored next Thursday at the Historical Society's annual fundraiser.

In 1902 Hackley School's Goodhue Memorial Hall was built with stones carried by oxcart from Glenville. After a remodel in 1985 converted the hall to a library, the building was struck by lightning in 2007 and tragically burnt to its shell. The response from 20 area fire departments was able save neighboring buildings from similar destruction.

Just a few years later, the building received an award-winning rebuild, which next Thursday will be receiving the 2012 Historic Preservation Award at the annual fundraiser for The Historical Society Serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.

Headmaster Walter C. Johnson recounts the colorful history of this building here: 

Hackley School’s Goodhue Memorial Hall was one of the first two buildings constructed at Hackley (completed in 1902), funded by Mrs. Frances Hackley’s good friend and fellow philanthropist Sarah Goodhue and designed by the Boston architectural firm of Wheelwright and Haven. The stones were quarried locally in Sackett’s quarry in Glenville and hauled to Hackley by oxcart. In 1985 the interior of Goodhue was redesigned by alumnus and architect Keith Kroeger ‘54 to serve as a library. The resulting Kaskel Library received an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. The citation read in part:

This conversion of an existing barrel-vaulted assembly hall into a delightful preparatory school library by the addition of a cleverly designed and carefully crafted balcony, bookcases and reading areas is so harmoniously achieved that it looks as though the building has always been just as it is now….

On August 4, 2007, lightning struck Goodhue, causing a fire that so ravaged this old building that only the stone walls remained. Pat Derivan, the 1st Assistant Chief for Tarrytown, led over 20 fire departments – including Briarcliff, Elmsford, Irvington, Ossining, Pleasantville, Pocantico Hills, and Sleepy Hollow -- in an extraordinary effort that prevented the fire from spreading to the connected buildings – Raymond Hall, Hale Tower, Philip Savage, and Minot Savage. Hackley is deeply grateful for their amazing work.

The architect Peter Gisolfi of Peter Gisolfi Associates in Hastings guided the restoration of Goodhue, which re-opened in September 2010 with its exterior completely restored.  Its transformed interior still evokes its original neoclassical spirit. Entering the building from Hackley’s main quadrangle, the lobby is furnished as a gathering space for students and decorated with award-winning student art.  Just beyond the lobby, a multi-media room is used for lectures and conferences. The flanking wings on the first floor house History department offices and classrooms. A curving stair leads to the new Sternberg Library on the second floor.  The main reading room of the library features a renewed barrel-vaulted ceiling flooded with natural light from the two classical windows and new dormers in the roof.  The second floor flanking wings contain computer research space, computer labs, reading alcoves, staff offices and workspace. This restoration, which employs geothermal wells for heating and cooling, won a Gold LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It also received a GE Edison Award of Merit for its lighting design, a Citation of Excellence from Learning By Design, and an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects Westchester Mid-Hudson Chapter.

This historic renovation would not have been possible without the efforts of heroic fire departments, talented architects and builders, the Greenburgh Buildings Department under the leadership of John Lucido, countless members of Hackley’s staff who collaborated on a design to serve the coming generations of children, and the generosity of alumni and parents who made donations to Hackley in support of returning this cherished building to its rightful place at the heart of Hackley’s campus.

There's also two videos on the school website worth watching, by following this link. The first covers the history, the fire and reconstruction ("and still moves us to tears when we watch," said Communications Director Suzy Akins), and the second is a lively time elapsed video of the rebuild.

The Historical Society, which serves the villages of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown will hold its annual wine tasting and fundraiser Party FOR the Porch, Thursday evening, September 20 at 6:30 pm at a new venue, the historic James House Mansion, located on the grounds of Phelps Memorial Hospital. Tickets are $35 per person and include sumptuous hors d'oeuvres supplied by local restaurants. The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of awards to representatives from Hackley School for the rebuilding of Goodhue Memorial Hall and to Doug Maass for his commitment to the community and to the Historical Society through donations and expertise. For further information, please call 914 631-8474 or visit our website: www.thehistoricalsociety.net

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Do you remember the 2007 fire? Or the building before that? Share your story here. 


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