The NYMC Alumni Center celebrates its 30th anniversary this year so it is a fitting subject for this post. The text that follows is heavily borrowed from a placque which is to be installed on the building in the continuing effort to bring to life the history of the College. Many of the resources used to verify this information reside in the Health Sciences Library Archives. Other assistance was obtained by the Westchester Historical Society and the Westchester County Archives, both located in Elmsford, NY.
The building that currently houses the NYMC Alumni Center has an intriguing history originally dating back to pre-revolutiona ry times. The first occupant was believed to be Captain Thaddeus Avery (1). Avery, a farmer, was instrumental in hiding money needed to pay Washington’s troops. In 1900 the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) presented a silver tablet (1,2,3,4) that was attached to the stove in the home that read:
“Captain Thaddeus Avery was branded with hot irons in this room and his wife, threatened with death by the Hessians when they refused to divulge the hiding place of money for the Continental Army. Mrs. Avery baked bread in this oven for the Revolutionary Soldiers. This hero and heroine were the Grand Parents of Mrs. R. Ogden Doremus, Second Regent of the New York Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution which organization affixed this tablet June 9, 1900.” (1)
In later years, the structure was occupied by Westchester County Commissioners of Public Welfare, V. Everett Macy and Miss Ruth Taylor among others, and became known as the “Commissioner’s House.” The Strawson family was the last known to occupy the house, from 1944-1960 . Stanton M. Strawson was Commissioner of Public Welfare for the County from 1950-60 (5). After that period, the “Strawson House” stood abandoned for many years. The building had been scheduled for demolition by the Department of Public Works and in the interim, used by the Fire Safety Training Unit for practice in putting out fires.
After hearing of the demolition plans in 1979, the School of Medicine Alumni Association initiated a campaign to restore the building. By 1981, the Alumni Association had reached the $75,000 mark (6). On December 15, 1982, the Association presented a check for $230,000 to College President John J. Connolly (7). On January 29, 1982, The Alumni Center was officially leased to New York Medical College by Westchester County (8). Renovation began in June of 1983. The building was restored as faithfully as possible in consultation with the County Planning Department. The front and back porticos were added and an open porch was enclosed for the boardroom (9). With the restoration completed, the dedication of the Center was held on June 2, 1984 (10).
The Alumni Center is now home to the administrative offices of NYMC Alumni Relations and offers an elegant venue for meetings and alumni events.
For more information see http://guides.library.nymc.edu/alumnicenter
1. Hadaway, William S (1934, October). Youngs Four Corners. The Quarterly Bulletin of the Westchester County Historical Society, 10(4), 70-83.
2. Walker, Ray B. (1956, Fall). Tarrytown yesterday: Eastview and Pocantico Hills Section. The Westchester Historian, 91-97.
3. Tablet unveiled at Grasslands. (1900, June 11). The Statesman (Yonkers), n.p.
4. Tablet to be Unveiled. (1900, June 7). The New York Times, n.p.
5. Westchester County Archives Desk Reference. http://archives.westchestergov.com/reference/county-government-desk-reference
6. Schlussel, Seymour (1981, Winter). News update from the Alumni Association. Chironian, 93(1), 1.