Major Bowes Memorial Retreat
The Bunkhouse, a double-sided, dormitory-style building, built in1975, lies at the far end of our 4+ acre property. Each side measures approximately 15 ft. X 30 ft., with an additional entrance vestibule (8 and 1/2 ft X 11 ft.) and bathroom. Here are bunk beds and single twin beds with 6 inch, covered foam mattresses, as well as a large bathroom with shower, two toilet stalls, a triple sink with extended countertops, and towel bar. We supply hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, and disposable drinking cups. The building is heated. One side is for women or girls; the other, for men or boys. There is room for up to 35 people (total) with some leeway as to how many can fit on each side. When you visit Major Bowes Retreat, you supply your own bedding (or sleeping bag) pillows, and towels. This helps to keep our prices low! (Oh, and there's an old -fashioned ping pong table on one of the sides!)
Named because of the skits Major Edward Bowes and his friends used to perform while on holiday in the 1930's, the Playhouse is our main meeting area. It houses "Fellowship Hall", a large room with living room furniture and a corner fireplace on one side, and a space for setting up folding tables and chairs for group meetings and meals on the other. The most striking feature of the building is along the back end of the Playhouse: a huge, vintage, carved wooden serving bar, complete with back mirror, lights, storage space and seating. It makes an impressive place to serve buffet meals from the kitchen.
Tucked into one end of the Playhouse is our newly renovated full service kitchen, complete with updated gas oven and stove. Here you will find all the tools you need to prepare meals for your group or keep your snacks readily on hand, if you decide to have your event catered by our staff. This building also offers air conditioning during the summer and is open year-round, 24 hours a day for our guests. We are pleased to announce that the bathroom in this building is now fully renovated, all clean and white and bright!
Outside the Playhouse is a full, covered veranda overlooking the rocky, wooded hills for which the lower Hudson Valley is known. From one side of the veranda flows a woodland stream which, depending upon the season, either gushes down the valley and spills into the contemplative pool towards the middle of the property, or slows to a mere trickle during dryer seasons. The sounds of flowing water add to the serenity of this place, and you can see why this area of the state is home to the Croton reservoir, which supplies a big part of New York City with cool, fresh drinking water. Follow the stream down towards the Reflection Pool and you can relax by the fire pit outside the gazebo. Continue along the stepping stones of the main, upper trail and you will come to the third building on the property.
Horse-drawn carriages (a genteel novelty among the well-to-do in the 1930's) used to pull into each of the three bays of the ground floor of the Carriage House. Now this space is home to "The Chapel at Laurel Hill", an ecumenical place for worship, fellowship, quiet contemplation, and group meetings. Vintage stained glass windows, depicting unusual symbols for each of the 12 disciples, allow filtered light to glow throughout the wood paneled, pew-lined room. Enter through the inside double doors and you will immediately see the massive stone fireplace. This room measures about 18 feet wide X 26 feet long (from entrance to fireplace.) A small table can be placed in front of the fireplace to serve as a beautiful altar. The dining room table and hutch opposite the fireplace is a great place for coffee hour or small group meetings. Also in this room is a TV which is hooked up to cable and can play DVDs, should you desire. Wireless internet is available in this building. There is a bathroom down the hall for your use.
The private areas of the Carriage House include the retreat business offices as well as the second floor apartment for the retreat's registrar/caretakers. The chapel is open from 9am - 8pm, weekends. Additional hours can be easily arranged.
Parking for 10 cars is available at the bunkhouse side of the property, in the driveway and upper garage area at #19 Allapartus Road (as opposed to the smaller driveway on the Carriage House side of the property which is the main address at #9.)
Radio personality, "Major" Edward Bowes, donated this triangular-shaped property to the Lutheran Church in 1939. It's 4-plus acres are surrounded by a stone wall and pillars which lie between Allapartus Road and Spring Valley Road in Ossining, NY. Take a walk or go for a jog on Spring Valley Road to look for the small iron "Bowes" nameplate embedded in the stone wall!
In its heyday, the Bowes family summered at the main residence originally on this site which, unfortunately, burned to the ground one November night in1937, along with all the furnishings and works of art that Bowes had collected during his lifetime. Major Bowes is buried at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
The woods include many native plants, as well as hundreds of laurel trees that Major Bowes and his wife, former actress Margaret Illington, planted during the first third of the 20th century. During its early days, this vacation estate was known as "Laurel Hill". In the middle of the site, lies a jazz-era version of a cement swimming pool. No longer safe for swimming, it is still 'fed' by the natural streams that flow both above and under the ground of the lower Hudson Valley.
Visit our new patio area halfway down the hillside path and over the stream!