Alumnae House Celebration: House of Stories
Arthur Hyde’s (pictured above) appreciation of Vassar, and specifically Alumnae House, goes back to years before he married Vassar alumna Alison Church Hyde ’59 or sent his children, Heather ’85, Sean ’89, and Rebecca ’92, off to Poughkeepsie. It was Hyde’s mother, Helen McCarthy Hyde ’22, who first introduced him to the Tudor inn. “Wherever we were going, my mother would always include a stopover at Alumnae House. It didn’t matter that it may be miles or hours out of our way. As a boy, I remember staying overnight with her in the large, dormitory-style room, where the ladies nicely put up a screen for me to change behind.” To honor his mother’s love of Alumnae House, Hyde donated the funds to restore the front lobby of the inn.
Trustee Meryl Streep ’71 in foreground
speaking with Maisry MacCracken ’31
Boarding a Greyhound bus in St. Louis, Missouri, Barbara Grace ’46 set out to pay her respects to Alumnae House. Dressed in the garden party theme of white, Grace spent the hours before the festivities exploring the house. Due to a larger than usual class during WWII, Grace lived in Room 27 of the House during her freshman year. She remembers her time there vividly. And although favorite spots on Raymond Avenue are gone—Nellie’s Irish Oven, for example—she thinks the House’s restoration work over the past years is simply “beautiful.” Another ’46er, Mary Lee Lowe Dayton, also lived in the House her freshman year. Her fondness for the House prompted her to give toward, as the commemorative plaque in the lobby reads, “the environmental comfort of Alumnae House.” Summer visitors to the House will be pleased to learn that thanks to Dayton’s gift, air-conditioning was installed in 2004.
As a former Vassar trustee and member of the AAVC Board of Directors Georgia Sims Carson ’52 attended numerous meetings at Alumnae House. To this day, Carson clearly remembers Barbara Austin Foote ’40, AAVC president from 1975–78. “Bar truly adored the House. For her sake, I am thrilled that the AAVC executive director’s office has been renovated and named for her.” (A gift from Foote’s daughter, Markell Foote Kaiser ’66, made this dedication possible.)
And finally, Emily Morris ’05 and her parents came to the House to pay homage to their family history. Morris is the great-great-grandniece of Alumnae House’s original benefactors, Blanche Ferry Hooker 1894 and Queene Ferry Coonley 1896. Morris was present at the unveiling of the Violet Oakley painting The Donors, which depicts the Ferry sisters. True to her family’s history in agriculture—the Ferry Seed Company—Morris majored in environmental studies and art history and worked closely with Vassar’s Head Gardener Marty Pinnavaia during her four years on campus.
View additional photos of the rededication celebration here.