Second Floor

Gothic Chamber

The Manor Hall evolved from a private residence to a civic space when the house was sold to the Village of Yonkers in 1868 by James C. Bell. To accommodate the needs of the Village government, a major reconstruction of the north wing was undertaken to create the Trustees Chamber, now called the Gothic Chamber. The remodeling was carried out in accordance with the plans and specifications of architect John Davis Hatch III. Hatch was a third-generation architect. His grandfather and father worked in England. His son, also John Davis Hatch, would follow him in the trade in America, and become a leading architect and museum scholar. Among the remaining works of Hatch III is the Greystone Mansion located in Untermyer Park.

Most of the north wing’s eighteenth-century fabric was removed or obscured during the renovation. To create height and depth, the second-floor bedrooms and hallway, the attic and a small staircase that probably connected the servants’ quarters in the attic to the kitchen, larder or pantry on the ground floor were removed. Hatch designed medieval gothic inspired brackets and trusses to add artistic formality and structural integrity to the space.

Shortly after the Village of Yonkers’ board of trustees first met in its new chamber in 1869, the Statesman reported:

          “The ornamentation and decoration…were deserving of praise, much of which were made from the old oak timbers, and are particularly worthy of remembrance on that account…The New Village Hall, brilliantly lighted up, was opened on Monday evening last, presenting a very handsome appearance, with its paneled ceiling of oak, handsome and elaborately painted walls, and the neat style of the desks for President, Trustees.”

In the same article, John D. Hatch III was listed as the architect, Seger and Smith as carpenters, J.J. Coffey as the gas fitter, Baldwin and Blauvelt as masons, Conway Pilson as the painter, and Fed Newman and Jacob Ziegler as furniture makers. [1]

With the advancement of Yonkers from village to city, the Gothic Chamber became the meeting place of the Common Council of the City of Yonkers. By 1881, six elongated hexagonal skylights were installed in the flat portion of the ceiling, with the approval of the City’s Committee on History and Historic Relics. The skylights posed continuous heating and leakage problems and were closed up sometime after 1958.

The room was also modified in 1950 with the conversion of the second window south of the north wall on the west elevation into an emergency exit door by New York State. Additional work conducted by New York State includes ceiling joist repairs, removal and replacement of plaster on wire lath, plaster repairs on walls, and installation of new moldings on the east and west sides of the room. Photographs indicate that the tie rods were installed between the wood trusses between 1971 and 1974, supporting the added weight of the heavy slate roof that replaced the wood shingles.

The 2021–2022 work included repainting the room in lighter colors, refinishing the floor, and transforming the southernmost window on the west wall to a doorway to access the new service wing.

The Gothic Chamber is a beloved public space and is the current home of the site’s community art gallery. It is also available for public and private gatherings. For more information, please contact the Philipse Manor Hall staff at (914) 965-4027.

[1]Philipse Manor Hall Historical Structural Analysis Report, 2006.