History of the Monastery


In 1910 John E. Aldred, a public utilities magnate, William D. Guthrie, Charles H. Pratt, and John Paul Getty, bought and razed the hamlet of Lattingtown, kept the charter, and built mansions along the waterfront. Using the charter they were able to establish an exclusive area close to other millionaires of that period who populated a strip along the North Shore known as the "Gold Coast."

In 1916 Mr. Aldred hired the prominent architect Bertram Goodhue to design his Elizabethan Tudor style, 74 room mansion complete with imported fireplaces, stain glass windows, flag-stone floors, and walnut wood (reportedly imported from Sherwood Forest). Henry W. Rowe was hired to design the stables and gate cottages, and recognized sculptors such as J. Selmer Larson designed fountains and statues. The Olmsted Brothers (of Central Park fame) laid out the landscaping and gardens. A true Anglophile, Mr. Aldred made sure the estate had a touch of monastic ambience, popular among English gentry, and even imported English servants. He named the estate the Ormston House.

The "Anti-Trust" laws passed by Congress, along with the federal and local property, capital gains, and income taxes, in the 1940s made it impossible for many in Mr. Aldred's class to hold on to their vast possessions without severely depleting their wealth. Mr. Aldred sold off the furniture, and profited $60,000 after settling his debts. He put the Ormston House on the market.

Due to the efforts of Fr. Maximilian Markiw, O.S.B.M., the Basilian Fathers became the new owners of the Ormston House in 1944, renaming it St. Josaphat's Monastery. The early years at the Monastery were reportedly difficult since the Order lacked the manpower to maintain the estate and there was not enough economical opportunity to provide the basic necessities of everyday living. The plan to farm the land fell through after the ground proved to be infertile.

Initially the monastery was used as a house for students studying philosophy. In the 1950s, many New York parishes escaped from the summer heat and vacationed in the gate houses, cottages, and stables. It wasn't until 1958 St. Josaphat's Monastery was established as a Novitiate.

Throughout the years, the stable was converted to a Retreat House, still used today, and a library-residential complex was added, housing unique books and archives. For over 60 years, there's an annual pilgrimage the first week of June, drawing many of the faithful to the monastery's beautiful grounds.

St. Josaphat's Monastery has a proud past. Over half of the Basilian Fathers working in the country started at St. Josaphat's Monastery and many others hold positions of responsibility abroad. It continues, in the words of Mr. Aldred, "to find satisfaction in seeing what it created succeed," and we might add: for the glory of God, the Catholic Church, and people.

A Slideshow of the History of the Monastery: