Fonthill Castle


Location: Fonthill Castle, Bronx, NY

Completion: 2018

Project Type: Reconstruction, Adaptive Reuse

Client: College of Mount Saint Vincent's

Fonthill Castle, College of Mount Saint Vincent, Bronx, NY


Fonthill Castle was built in 1852 as the country estate of Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest and his wife, the actress Catherine Norton Sinclair. According to Lawrence Barrett, the plans were formed by Mrs. Forrest and approved by her husband.[3] Steven E. Smith noted that in laying the cornerstone, Forrest set into it a few coins and a volume of Shakespeare.[4] The castle was located on the slopes above the Hudson River as the Hudson River Railroad planned to lay its tracks along the river. The name Fonthill was derived from William Beckford's Gothic Fonthill Abbey in England.[5]

Forrest later sold the property to the Sisters of Charity of New York who relocated the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent from McGowan's Pass when the City of New York was developing Central Park. The castle has served as a convent, chapel, museum, chaplain's residence, and the college library. It later came to house the admissions office of the College of Mount Saint Vincent.[5]

Fonthill is a Gothic Revival style building consisting of a cluster of six octagonal towers at varying heights, built of hammered grey stone.


TRA studio is in the process of restoring the historic structure, whose eccentric floor plan promises in the second phase of the project, to make it the ideal hub to foster sociability and provide a reference point to symbolize the togetherness of all the different departments that populate the campus site. Instead of the function defining the form, in this case the form dictates the function. The floor plan is a porous cluster of six octagonal towers, no corridors and wasted space, making it ideal for exhibition or event space accessed from all 360 degrees from all the major buildings of the campus, opposite doors connect vistas from the Administration Building to the Hudson River.


TRA is also in the process of redefining the landscape connecting the structure to the other major buildings on Campus.