Stony Point Center in Five Generations
In 1948, the Gilmor sisters bequeathed their home and 26 acres of farmland to the Presbyterian Church Board of Foreign Missions “to help carry out the mission of the church.”
During the 1950’s, Stony Point Center functioned as a progressive think tank - kind of Camp David for religious leaders from New York and around the world. The emphasis on crossing boundaries to work together across traditional lines of difference that was established in those years has remained strong ever since that time.
In the 1960’s, Stony Point Center became the home of a unique, ecumenical partnership of 7 Christian denominations that banded together to offer intensive training to missionaries going into service around the world. Mission workers who trained here remember that there was a strong critique of the ways in which mission had historically been tied to colonialism and that they left here with a strong commitment to work in partnership partners around the world.
From the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s, under the direction of Jim and Louise Palm, Stony Point Center became known as an international center focusing on peace and the protection of human rights around the world. Many of the residents in those years were refugees who fled violence and persecution for their human rights work in their communities of origin.
In the late 1990’s and the early part of this century, Stony Point Center’s focus shifted to providing hospitality for a wide variety of religious and community organizations from around the New York Metro area.
Since 2008, Stony Point Center has been the residence of the Community of Living Traditions (CLT) - the next “boundary crossing” generation. Together, the residents of the CLT work to provide support to the staff as we welcome people from a wide variety of backgrounds who share a commitment to live out values of peace and justice and nonviolence and care for the world around us. We are committed to building up an intentionally multifaith movement to live those values together in the world.
Gilmor Sloane House
Built in 1856
On May 1, 1852, five acres of land in Stony Point was sold to Benjamin F. Goodspeed of New York City. Mr. Goodspeed employed an architect to design a two-story-and-tower cottage which combined Victorian and French Renaissance styles. Completed around 1856, the house was vacated by Mr. Goodspeed’s wife, Alma in 1880, six years after the death of her husband.
In 1885, the Stony Point Presbyterian Church rented the unoccupied Goodspeed house as a manse for their new pastor, the Reverend John Scott Gilmor, his wife and four daughters. On February 8, 1889, the Goodspeed heirs chose to sell, and the Gilmor family purchased the land and the house.
Early plans for additions and alterations transformed the cottage into a Victorian mansion. The main entrance was turned from the east to the south. The first two stories were lifted and a new first story was built beneath, making the upper stories of the house the older. A two-story rear addition was added for the servants’ quarters. The addition of a grand front porch completed this transformation.
The sudden death of Catherine Sloane Gilmor in 1890 left her dreams and plans to her family. In 1893, the Reverend Gilmor remarried and sold the Stony Point mansion and land to his four daughters. In 1914 there was a further enlargement of the home. The tower was removed, creating a balustrade balcony on the second floor. A third floor was added above the newer servants’ quarters and a porte cochere once again introduced the east entrance to guests. The sisters named their home “Cairn Croft” and for forty-five years it was so known. Additional land was bought, some with buildings, and the farm increased in size to 32 acres. The sisters were active church members and always opened their doors to returning missionaries. They wrote identical wills to ensure the continuation of their ministry and to honor both parents by combining land, buildings and assets to create the Gilmor Sloane Foundation. Following the death of the last sister in 1948 the Foundation was transferred to the United Presbyterian Church in the USA (UPUSA).
In 1997, the Governing Board of Stony Point Center realized a complete renovation of the Gilmor Sloane House was necessary to restore its former beauty and to bring it up to safety standards. The house was rededicated in the fall of 1998. This renovation was possible through funds that had accumulated in the Foundation established many years ago by the Gilmor sisters.
Continuing in the tradition of the Gilmor sisters, the house is open to guests all year round.
In the late 1950’s, six dormitories were built along with appropriate meeting, food preparation, and dining facilities. The campus was designed to build community. Participants in the training programs shared meals in a common dining room, and the rooms were intentionally spare but adequate for study and extended living. In 1958 ground was broken for the Lakota Lodge (housing a meeting hall, library, dining room and kitchen now named Evergreen). Construction began soon after on three housing units (Asia, Africa and Latin America, now named Beech Tree, Walnut, and Magnolia). By October 1959 all buildings, including the similar larger unit (Beta now Maple) were completed; a nursery building would soon be added.
The rooms in the Lodges are rented to conference attendees and individuals.
The Barn Playhouse - The Penguin Rep Theatre
Built in the 1880’s
The Barn Playhouse came into being with the conversion of the old barn into a modern theater in 1959, the inspiration of Charles Leber. From 1959 to 1969 the Barn Players presented the annual summer season of religious drama. Since 1977, the Penguin Repertory Theatre, a professional, equity theater company has used the barn as its headquarters.
Its history has included filming the movie “The Mark of the Hawk” with Eartha Kitt and Sydney Poitier. "The Man Who Was Peter Pan," the play that later became the film Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and achieved international attention, had its world premier here!
Productions are open to the public.
Readers’ Service and the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice
Present building built in 1950’s
Started in 1947 by Dr. and Mrs. Kunkle in New York City, the service was moved to Stony Point in 1954. As a branch of the PCUSA this service is responsible for receiving donated books and distributing them to individuals and institutions in countries overseas. In 2011, after more than six decades and the distribution of hundreds of thousands of books, the building was repurposed to become the home of the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice. CLBSJ's mission is to put theological resources in the hands of activists who are working for peace, environmental and social justice, and nonviolence
Readers’ Service is now closed. This building currently houses the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice.
Calvin Tomkins Allison, a descendent of the Allison Family that established Haverstraw and Stony Point in the late 18th Century, lived at 142 West Main Street with his family. His house and an adjoining building was the first grammar school in Stony Point which he attended until he was 11 years old. After graduating from Princeton University, he returned to the Stony Point area to establish an engineering and contracting business, and served as county engineer. Mr. Allison and his wife, Edith, adopted their niece, Elinor Durham Jordan, in 1922 after her parents had died. The Allison family was Presbyterian and Mr. Allison had built Stony Point Presbyterian Church, as well as donating much land to town and civic organizations. Elinor resided in the house until her death on October 16, 1999 at the age of 86. She willed the house, Calvin T. Allison Overbrook House, to the Presbyterian Foundation to be used “in conjunction with and in furtherance of the purposes and programs of the Stony Point Center of the Presbyterian Church, USA” and money to maintain the residence and to assist in supporting programs, such as the Summer Institute, at the house. After upgrading the kitchen, heating and cooling system, basement and completing other repairs, the 4 bedroom house (with an additional warm-weather sleeping porch) began to be used by the center in 2009 primarily for groups wanting to do independent programs, including meal preparation. In 2013 all the windows were replaced.