Hamden Hall has purchased the historic Davis Street castle to meet the growing needs of our PreSchool through Grade 6 Lower School.
The 18,000-square-foot castle-like structure, which was built in 1906, sits amid 3.4-acres and is situated across the street from the main campus on Whitney Avenue. The breathtaking property overlooks Lake Whitney.
Moving forward, the school will invest in a multi-million-dollar renovation of the site, although no part of the exterior of the castle will be altered. Three modest additions will be built and additional site improvements include dedicated play areas and play elements, along with a natural grass multi-purpose recreational field.
“At the start of the 2018-2019 school year, I encouraged our administration, faculty, and staff to dream big, and I’m pleased to announce that a particular long-term vision of ours is now coming to fruition. We have purchased 20 Davis Street, and I believe this ‘dream’ will have a multi-dimensional impact on our school and the local community,” said Hamden Hall Head of School Bob Izzo.
Along with an outstanding academic program, the new facility will provide Hamden Hall’s Lower School with its own campus and a facility that will be unmatched in terms of location and design.
Just as Hamden Hall’s main campus formerly housed the Pinehurst mansion, which was erected by the late Morris Steinert of piano company and New Haven Symphony fame, the Davis Street castle also has a storied history.
Designed by architects Brown and Von Beren, the castle was built for Frederick D. Grave a German immigrant who arrived in America in 1861. After learning the cigar trade, Grave in 1884 founded his own company, F.D Grave & Son in New Haven. The company is still in existence today. Two of Grave’s great-grandchildren are Hamden Hall alumni, Fred Grave IV, Class of 1972, and Dorothy Grave Hoyt, Class of 1979; as was their mother, Dorothy Solakian Grave, Class of 1944.
In 1960, prominent architect Eero Saarinen, who at the time agreed to serve as department head for the Yale School of Architecture, purchased the property from the Grave family. He subsequently remodeled the castle and built the rear additions so it could be used for his new office. Saarinen never used the building as he died in 1961 at the age of 51. His associates, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo, who relocated with Saarinen from Michigan, completed the projects that Saarinen’s firm was working on – notably the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Washington Dulles International Airport.
From the early 1960s to the present, the property served as the office for Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo Associates, an architectural firm. The remaining principal owner of the firm, Kevin Roche, recently died, and the firm will vacate the property by late 2019. Both the Roche and Dinkeloo families have children who attended Hamden Hall.