In business since 1965
Forest Hall is listed on the Historic National Register. The original architectural drawings and blueprints are in the collection of the American Institute of Architects Foundation in Washington D.C. In conjunction with Grey Towers, Forest Hall is considered the birthplace of the Conservation movement in America.
Hunt & Hunt, successor firm of Richard Morris Hunt, architect of many important buildings, including Biltmore and the base on which the Statue of Liberty stands, designed Forest Hall in 1903. In 1904, James Pinchot contracted E. S. Wolfe to construct Forest Hall to adjoin the 1880's Gothic Revival building at the corner of Hartford and Broad Street, designed by Calvert Vaux, architect of the original façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Built in the French Normandy style, Forest Hall was intended for use by commercial shops on the first floor, and for classrooms for Yale University’s Forest School as well as a meeting place for fraternal organizations on the upper floors.
According to the original contract: “All walls of front and end of building from water-table to second story to be of bluestone. The framing plans are calculated for longleaf yellow pine, or native yellow pine equal in strength. The entire floor area to be covered with a first floor of native yellow pine, surfaced. Finished floor to be laid level and true on
surfaced first floor, and to be tongued and grooved 2 ½ inch boards, 7/8 inch thick of comb-grained North Carolina pine of first quality. There is to be a picture moulding in all rooms, and a wooden cornice five inches in depth in all stores and rooms except in the forestors’ hall, where the cornice is to be twelve inches in depth. The main stairs are to be made of Oak two inches thick. The roof to be of No.2 slate, properly flashed at all valleys and where necessary; the slate to be from Newton, New Jersey, 8 by 14 inches, or 8 by 16 inches.” The sum paid to the contractor was $19,000.
The building was dedicated on July 19, 1906. The front of the building contains three medallions of historic figures admired by the Pinchots: Bernard Palissy, artist, sculptor and philosopher, Andre Michaux, who studied and wrote about the trees of North America in the 19th century, and LaFayette, soldier and statesman. Forest Hall was the home of the first post office and bank in the county.
From Breteil-sur-Meye, a town north of Paris, Constatien Pinchot, a Huguenot and supporter of Napoleon, settled in Milford in 1818 to open a store after a brief stay in New York City. The store was at the site where Forest Hall is now situated. His son Cyrille prospered in the freight wagon trade. Cyrille’s son James (1831-1908) became a successful New York City merchant importing and manufacturing wallpapers.
James Pinchot was politically and socially well connected. He lobbied for legislation to accept the Statue of Liberty from France and helped oversee the design and construction of its pedestal. He was a founder and principal benefactor of both the National Academy of Design and the American Museum of Natural History.
In 1900, James Pinchot gave an endowment of $150,000 to Yale University’s Forest School to maintain for 21 years a summer term at Grey Towers, leading to a master’s degree in Forestry.
Auditorium on 2nd floor
Water fountain in parking lot
Gifford, born in 1865, was James Pinchot’s first son. He grew up in New York City, and entered Yale in 1885. He was the first American to receive professional forestry training in Europe - under German forester Dietrich Brandis and at Ecole National Forestière in France. He was appointed chief of the Forest Division in 1898, which in 1905 Congress changed into the Forest Service of the Dept. of Agriculture. The first five U.S. Forest Service chiefs - Pinchot, Henry Graves, William B. Greeley, Robert Y. Stuart and Ferdinand Silcox - were all instructors or students at Forest Hall.
At 49, Pinchot married Cornelia Bryce (1881-1960.) Her great grandfather Peter Cooper founded Cooper Union, a free college of science and engineering in New York City. She traveled frequently in Europe, and was a great supporter of women’s suffrage, birth control and laws against child labor abuse.
Gifford Pinchot was a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Pinchot served as governor of Pennsylvania 1923-27 and 1931-35, and died in October 1946.
Additional building in parking lot
Additional building in parking lot