History of Mariandale

Sister Eileen Breen, OP, reminisces about Mariandale in the 1950s and the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor. (2:50)

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The land now known as Mariandale, meaning “Mary’s Valley,” was once part of a 600-acre farm called Eagle Park, owned by Joseph Patterson, former Vice President and Managing Editor of the New York Daily News. The Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor purchased a small portion of the land and its buildings in 1949 for their Motherhouse, offices for their home health care ministry, and eventually a retreat center. In July of 1995, they came together with two other Dominican congregations to form a new religious community – the Dominican Sisters of Hope. 

​The Dominican Sisters in Ossining

The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor was founded in New York City by Mary Walsh, a young Irish immigrant. In 1879, while working as a laundress in wealthy homes, she was moved by the needs of poor families in her own neighborhood and founded the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor.

StatueThe Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor arrived in Ossining in 1950, after buying the former Patterson estate. Shortly after they arrived, the Sisters began providing free home nursing services to the sick and poor in the Ossining area.

In 1954, the convent grounds were renamed and dedicated as Mariandale. As the Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor continued to grow, a larger building was built and formally opened in 1966.

The original idea for the Retreat and Conference Center came about as a result of a meeting called by Sr. Paracleta Sweeney of Blauvelt in February of 1976. The meeting’s purpose was to explore the possibility of establishing a place where Dominicans in this geographic area could come together to pray, study, and reflect on current issues in light of their charism. The founding congregations were:  Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Newburgh, Ossining and Sparkill, along with the Province of St. Joseph. The Center opened on September 8, 1976, providing planned programs, retreats, days of recollection, and lectures.

Gradually, the site grew and became known as the Mariandale Center for Spirituality. As the call for more programs increased, an administrator was hired along with additional staff, and the property eventually became known as the The Center at Mariandale.

Throughout its history, Mariandale has been a place of hospitality, reflection, and peace.

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The Center at Mariandale | New York Retreat Center