In early 2013, Felician College opened the Castle – a magnificent 19th century structure that is truly the focal point of the picturesque Rutherford campus.
Originally known as Iviswold Castle, the building was constructed in 1869 by New York newspaperman and land developer Lloyd W. Tomkins. It was a simple mansard-roofed, two-story stone structure. Tomkins named the home “Hill House” because of its location on one of the highest hills in Rutherford.
In 1887, David Brinkerhoff Ivison, president of the American Book Company, purchased the house and hired architect William Henry Miller to transform it into the castle-like structure it is today, and named it “Iviswold.”
Following Ivison’s death in 1903, the castle was sold several times.
Between 1906 and 1915, the Schatzkins family made major renovations to the building, including a two-story addition and an indoor swimming pool on the second floor.
In 1930, the castle was taken over by the Rutherford National Bank, which at the time, was headed by Colonel Fairleigh S. Dickinson.
Eventually, the castle was used as administrative offices for Fairleigh Dickinson University, until the college left Rutherford in 1994 and consolidated on other campuses.
Felician College acquired the castle in 1997 when it purchased the 10.5 acre campus.
In the fall of 2001, a team of engineers, architects and historians descended on Felician College’s 19th century castle to begin plans for an estimated multi-million renovation project to restore the 134-year landmark to its former glory.
Members of the renovation team worked with original drawings to identify and remove all non-original materials installed during the last 50 years.
Utilizing an international theory of reconstruction, original fabrics were retained, preserved and reused whenever possible. Careful measures were taken to preserve as much of the original structure as possible and to restore the castle to its original beauty and grandeur.
A Historic Sites Management planning grant from the New Jersey Historic Trust helped to fund the first stage of the massive renovation project. Subsequent grants from the New Jersey historic trust and the Bergen County Historic Preservation trust helped fund further renovations. The castle was unanimously approved for inclusion on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Behind paneled walls and drop ceilings installed during Fairleigh Dickinson’s use of the building from 1942 and 1994, the project team uncovered a myriad of hidden treasures such as domed ceilings, a working dumbwaiter, ebony cornice moldings, wainscoting and original plaster moldings.
One of the most astonishing finds was a wall sculpture depicting a scene resembling 14th-century Florentine artwork found high above what was once a music room.
Other treasures uncovered included opalescent stained glass windows, an original red clay tile roof, and ornate wrought iron railings that grace upper-level balconies.
A New Beginning
The historic structure, renovated to maintain its original richness and beauty, serves as a campus center to meet the needs of the student body, which has more than doubled in the last decade. It will also house the College’s chapel and administrative offices of admission, alumni relations and institutional advancement. Its first-floor parlors and meeting rooms will also be available for use by the public.