History of Rosary Hall
Rosary Hall is as resilient as the Sisters. It has weathered many storms, including fire, hurricanes, and water damage. With an architecture based on the Holy Cross Convent in Regensberg, Germany, the Motherhouse and Novitiate were completed in 1876.
In 1920 it grew to include a farm, outbuildings, orchards, a cemetery, and a grotto.
Named a New York State historic landmark, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 which protects and preserves the future of the properties.
All renovations accommodating the needs of the retired Sisters, referenced descriptions of the original exterior and interiors. Experts attended to every detail with reverence and dedication to the spirit of this great building — not only as a historic site but as the Sisters’ home.
Rosary Hall Timeline
1875: The Amityville presence begins with a donation of 83 acres from Mr. Schlegel and Mother Seraphine’s purchase of the adjacent 19-acre farm “for a big convent.”
1876: Mr. Schlegel’s small house (now Seraphina Cottage) is used as the first Novitiate. On April 20th, construction begins on the new Novitiate, Rosary Hall.
1879: Dedication of the Chapel. Expanded facilities include classrooms for neighborhood children and the 120-boy and 60-girl orphans who live on the grounds.
1880s: To accommodate the Sisters’ farm, several outbuildings are added, including a carriage barn, chicken house and icehouse (sometimes called the potato house.)
1888: Tiny St. Dominic’s Chapel is built in the woods, on the west side of Albany Avenue. It is later moved to its current site, by the Sisters’ cemetery, in 1905.
1913: Fire escapes are added to the Novitiate.
1934: Autumn: End of farming.
1941: A marble altar replaces the wooden “mensa.”
1953: In preparation for the Congregation’s centenary, murals and paintings are cleaned, and the sanctuary is carpeted.
1965: Rosary Hall is renovated, modernized and made fire-resistant.
1970: Moveable altar installed.
1970: Fire in the electrical wiring of the bell tower. Chapel is closed until the following Spring.
2007: Rosary Hall is granted “New York State Historic Site” and “National Register of Historic Places” status.
2010: Completion of thorough two-year restoration project.
2016: One hundred and twenty-seven retired Sisters live in the Motherhouse in Amityville.
In 1853, four Sisters from Holy Cross Monastery in Regensburg, Germany set sail for the United States to teach the children of German immigrants. Father Stephen Raffeiner of the Redemptorist Fathers in Manhattan offered shelter to Sisters Josepha, Augustine, Francesca, and Jacobina in the rectory basement of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Brooklyn, N.Y.
By the 1870s, the growing congregation moved to a farm on Long Island, and the Sisters became known as the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville. Their ministries met the changing needs of a growing population. In time, their work expanded throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Each unique ministry is committed to serving the poor and marginalized.