The Amy Hagerty Collection



The College of New Rochelle Receives Gift of 
Leland Related Materials

In 2008, Coordinator of General Services at The College of New Rochelle, Amy Hagerty, and a local history buff, found an interesting lot of papers for sale on E-Bay. The items were contracts and papers related to the construction of Leland Castle dating from the mid-1850’s.

Amy recently donated these rare papers to the Gill Library Archives. The 45 + items include bills by the carpenter, Peter J. Shearwood, of New Rochelle (and first fire chief of New Rochelle), and Andrew J. Garvey, the “Prince of Plasterers.” Shearwood’s careful accounts note items like 172 pounds of nails for $7.74 and 10 1/2 days of work for $19.69; $3.00 for a day and a half for use of a horse and mill. Garvey charged $18 for the plaster pendants in the entrance hall going up the stairs. Most of Garvey’s work has disappeared; decorative plaster easily falls off water damaged ceiling. Fire damage in 1897 necessitated extensive repairs and painting.

Shearwood’s papers reveal that the paneling and wood work within Leland Castle (such as the fire pieces, shutters, mantels, and ornate cornices in the Gothic Revival Library and Renaissance Revival Dining room and elsewhere) were done by other craftsmen. We can see his drawings for the door frames still extant. Also of interest are the drawings of the exterior cornices, gables, turret, and other wooden “devices” which still exist. Some of the deteriorating wooden exterior decorations were replaced in the 1940’s by galvanized iron replicas.

Look at the illustration from an 1865 article from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper seen here:

 Illustration for 1865 article in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
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and compare the illustrations with photographs of the Castle taken as long ago as a century or more recently.

2nd Floor Student Room Music Room
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The first floor rooms remain essentially unchanged. The “long parlor” extension dates to 1899; the north wing which now houses the Castle Gallery and faculty offices was added in 1901.

When renovation work began in the 1970’s the Leslie illustration was invaluable for selecting wallpapers and window treatments. A great surprise was the discovery of an original “fresco” when the wall paper was removed in the Library. Fresco painter, Henry Youngling’s faux wall painting was then restored.

From the time Leland Castle was purchased by the Ursulines in 1897 to the present, the story of Simeon Leland’s home continues to unfold.  The Iselin family gave the nuns photographs of the era when it was used as a hunt club and inn for elegant dinner parties. It was then rented briefly as a public school and then served as two private schools. The College purchased the Castle from the Ursulines in 1972.


 The College of New Rochelle Archives is grateful for this generous donation from Amy Hagerty.

1856. Letter from Peter J. Shearwood to Simeon Leland agreeing to carpentry work on the interior and exterior of “your building in New Rochelle” for the sum of $2,200.

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Drawings of octagonal front tower, battlements, and cornices
– still visible on the Castle.


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   Cornices Battlements
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1856. Carpenter’s Specifications.
This contract, signed by Shearwood, Leland, and the architect, William T. Beers details the work agreed upon.

Carpenter's Specifications
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Details are given to the size and measurements of the cornices, battlements, and blocking on the exterior of the Castle. A mystery as to the original use of the present red-tiled passage room at the front is solved; it was a smoking room.


1858. List of items purchased by Shearwood:
cement, boards, timber.            

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Different varieties of wood were used for different purposes. Large pieces like cornices, frames, and brackets were to be made, according to the Specifications of “clear seasoned white pine.” From the dates of Shearwood’s papers, one can see that construction of Leland Castle in deed took several years.


1859. Bill from Andrew J. Garvey
“Plain and Ornamental Plasterer,” to Simeon Leland for $462.50 for interior plaster work.

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Library Bay window exterior.

 Library Bay Window
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Notice the galvanized iron replacement crenellation above the window. Inside, the windows still have original glazed, colored sidelights and interior shutters.

Octagonal wood tower cap made by Shearwood.


Leland Tower
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This tower has often appeared on CNR promotional items.  While Leland was wealthy, he could not afford to have more expensive stone carving (seen on ‘real’ castles) for the decorative devices on his home. The painted items were a more economical substitute.


October 21, 1865. “The Residence and Grounds of Simeon Leland, Esq. At New Rochelle, N.Y.” article in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.  Both the images and article have been invaluable in tracing the changes in the Castle’s history. Compare similar restored rooms with those in the illustration.

 1897 Leland Castle when bought by Ursulines.

Leland Castle in 1897

Notice that the original porte cochere , roof over the front Music Room porch, and greenhouse are missing.  About 1890, Adrian Iselin developed the Leland estate into Residence Park with streets and houses on the original 40 acres.

 1881.  Queens County Hounds and the New Rochelle Coach “Talley Ho” at Castle Inn.

Queens County Hounds and the New Rochelle Coach "Tally Ho" at Castle Inn
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In 1881 Adrian Iselin, Jr. and his wealthy friends leased the Castle for an inn. The men built a polo field where Brescia is located and went fox hunting in northern New Rochelle. The local farmers were annoyed, and the inn and club gave up their lease in 1882. Adrian Iselin, Jr. bought the property in 1884.


1881. “Talley Ho” Coach at Castle Inn.
Elegant dinners were held in the Castle for New York’s elite who drove to New Rochelle and other estates in DeLancey Kane’s  (brother-in-law of Iselin) coach.

"Tally Ho" Coach at Castle Inn
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This cartoon shows Andrew J. Garvey appearing as a surprise witness at the 1877 trial of corrupt Tammany Party leader.

Andrew Garvey Cartoon
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 William “Boss” Tweed. Garvey had billed the city of NY over $133,000 for two days’ work on the Tweed courthouse.


Peter J. Shearwood, carpenter and first New Rochelle fire chief.

Peter J. Shearwood
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Postcard, ca. 1906 shows the 1899 addition to Leland Castle. This was joined to the new Chapel in 1923.


     Postcard ca 1906   
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Postcard, ca. 1915 shows the back of the Castle and its 1901 wing. The rear tower was struck by lightning in 1926 and the wooden turret was destroyed.

Postcard ca 1915
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Portrait of Simeon Leland (Center) and his brothers who were successful hotel executives in the mid-nineteenth century. Simeon (1816-1872).

The Leland Brothers
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“ Castle View” was built c. 1855-1859 and was lavishly furnished.

 Sadly, Leland died bankrupt; the Civil War had temporarily devastated the hotel industry in Manhattan