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Dobbs Ferry, New York

St. Cabrini Novitiate

This dilapidated castle-like structure overlooks the Hudson River at one of its widest points and was once home to nuns. 

The St. Cabrini Novitiate’s castle used to offer some stunning vistas of the Hudson River from its large windows. But they’re shuttered, and the structure’s sits in disrepair amid thickets of trees and shrubs that threaten to overgrow it. Next door is the modern-looking St. Cabrini Nursing Home. The castle’s ultimate fate remains unknown after reports in the early part of the 21st century that it would be demolished. 

Situated on a bluff above the river bank, the castle has three levels, the top of which is close to even with the nursing home’s parking lot. The building has been described as a hodgepodge of architectural styles, but its edifice is beginning to show signs of weathering. The building served as part of a novitiate, which was a community for nuns-in-training, or novices, who lived together as they prepared to take their final vows. The nuns ran a hospital on the site. 

Frances Xavier Cabrini, who emigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the 1800s at the behest of the pope, founded the novitiate around the turn of the century. She also founded the order of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and close to 70 instituions across the United States. Cabrini is the first U.S. citizen to be canonized. 

Curiosity seekers can catch a glimpse of the structure from the train while taking Metro North’s Hudson Line train. The castle is just south of the Dobbs Ferry Station.