The Historic Allien House is situated within the site that the Hebrew Home is proposing to build on.



Allien House - Petition for Landmarks Status in New York City

This proposal requests the Landmark Preservation Commission consider for landmark status a 3 1/2 story house at 5801 Palisades Avenue in Riverdale that was built around 1862 and owned by Frederick and Susan Allien. The Alliens sold their home, the multi-acre plot, a chapel, a frame garage and barn, a frame chicken house, a chicken run, rose garden, lawn and two vegetable gardens to the Passionist Community of the Roman Catholic Church in 1924. Unchanged this became part of the expanded Cardinal Spellman Retreat House that included a larger dormitory facility designed by the eminent architect Brother Cajeton J.B. Baumann.

This house and grounds under consideration has not changed since 1965; the design beauty and clarity "…makes use of classical architectural details. Notable features include the porch extending across the front facade with bracketed posts, a picturesquely varied roof profile of projecting gables, and an exterior of rough-cut shingles on the first and second floors. A(nother) notable feature is the polygonal conservatory with multi-paned windows commanding a spectacular view of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.” Special Natural Area District (SNAD), community, and the multi-level aspects of the grounds surrounding the house stand preserved in all their dignity to the present day. from the mid-19th consideration as a landmark. More research into the history of these venerable quarters reveals that it was the living space and professional academic center for an illustrious scholar for all time: Reverend Thomas Berry. It may please the Landmarks Commission to know that Rev. Berry, a world renowned eco-theologian, inaugurated the Riverdale Center for Religious Research in 1970 in the Allien Mansion. Moving his considerable academic research enterprise from Fordham University to Riverdale and the Passionist Retreat House where it stayed until his retirement in 1995. Rev. Berry expanded the influence of his, at the time, revolutionary thinking about the humane co- existence with the environment by writing and publishing award winning tomes .

By 1965, this stately structure, essentially  The natural features of this property, within the  have also been respected by the Passionist century, and as such they are surely worthy of your Earth”, 1988, (National Lannan Non-Fiction Award 1992), and The 11-Volume Riverdale Papers, (Harvard University Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives). Other notable contributions were “The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era”, with mathematical-cosmologist Brian Swimme (1994); and later influential works, conceived during the Riverdale/Allien Mansion years, published after he left the Allien Mansion - “The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future” (1999); and “Evening Thoughts: Reflecting on Earth as Sacred Community” (Sierra Club Books, University of California Press, 2006). During Rev. Berry’s tenure and leadership of the Riverdale Center, The Allien Mansion became the place for an annual conference for themes such as: Energy: Its Cosmic-Human Dimensions; The Future: Technological Society Man's Covenant? ; New York as Sacred City; The Ecological Age.

It will also come as no surprise that among the awards and international respect bestowed on Rev. Berry there is an annual Thomas Berry Lecture Award established by the College of Mt. St. Vincent, a nearby neighbor on the Hudson. Surely the place some consider the spawning grounds for the ecological movement is yet another reason to consider its preservation.


1. Passionist Historical Archives, Riverdale, Residence, Historical Summary. 

2. The Passionist History by Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D. 

3. Passionist Historical Archives, Riverdale, Spiritual Center, Historical Summary. 

4. The Architectural and Historical Resources of Riverdale, The Bronx, New York:

A Preliminary Survey Commissioned by the Riverdale Nature Preservancy

Researched by Mary Delaney Krugman, M.S.H.P. Historic Preservation Consultant

Christina Halsey Way, Editor October 1998. 

5. Preservancy News, the Newsletter of the Riverdale Nature Preservancy, Spring 2002.

6. Rev. Thomas Berry obituary June 2, 2009.

Research by Bruce Volpe, MD

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