McBurney School

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McBurney School was a college preparatory school in Manhattan run by the YMCA of Greater New York.

Among its alumni are actors Henry Winkler, Robert De Niro, Richard Thomas,[1] physician Lewis Thomas, journalists Ted Koppel, Haynes Johnson[2], and Gordon Joseloff,[3] designer/inventor Bran Ferren, musicians Adam Horovitz, Richie Birkenhead and Richard Goode, historian David Brion Davis, J.D. Salinger, and financiers Bruce Wasserstein[3] and Felix Rohatyn.[4]


5 West 63rd Street

"Established in 1916 as a part of the educational program of the YMCA of Greater New York, McBurney School commemorated in its name one of the pioneers in work with boys and young men during the latter years of the nineteenth century,[5] the first paid secretary of the YMCA of New York. For many years the School was a part of the education department of the West Side Branch, first on West 57th Street and then, in 1929, at 5 West 63rd Street where a separate portion of the larger building was prepared for the School. By 1935 the educational work of the City Association had increased to a point where a Schools Branch was justified. The direction of this Branch centered in McBurneys' 15 West 63rd Street building and provided for the operation of four, sometimes five, schools. This arrangement continued until, by 1957, increases in enrollment called for the accommodation of 450 boys. It was decided, therefore, to discontinue all of the departments except McBurney and the Evening High School and to prepare in 15 West 63rd street a proper setting for a college preparatory school. In September, 1958, the first part of the renovation was finished, and the building at 15 West 63rd Street was ready for McBurney use."[6]

Due to the construction of Lincoln Center only a block to the west, the value of the school property increased dramatically after 1965. In the mid-1980s the YMCA sold the property for residential development.[7][8] In spite of mergers and a move to 20 West End Avenue, The New York Times reported that McBurney shut its doors and auctioned off its contents on August 3, 1988.

The closed school was the product of a merger between the 60-year-old McBurney School and the Baldwin School...The combined institution later merged with the Riverside and Carnegie Hill Schools, under a parent organization called the Baldwin League of Independent Schools... the organization paid $5.5 million for the four-story building on West End Avenue at 60th Street, spent $3.8 million on remodeling and moved in two years ago...the decision to close was made last week... the school's location – in a neighborhood of automobile dealers, parking lots and taxicab repair shops – had turned out to be a 'detriment.' In the library yesterday, bidders flipped through old yearbooks, hunting pictures of such well-known McBurney alumni as Felix Rohatyn, the chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corporation, and Henry Winkler, the actor known as The Fonz. Mr. Giannone found the yearbook showing a member of the class of 1956 whose nickname was Dumbo. The name was listed as Ted Koppel, now of ABC News.

McBurney may be best remembered as the destination of Holden Caulfield when he left all the equipment of the Pencey Prep fencing team on the subway in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Administration & Faculty[edit]


  • 1916–1918: Newel W. Edson
  • 1918–1952: Thomas Hemenway – also oratory teacher. (born Sept 10, 1889 - d. Feb. 26, 1969)
  • 1920: Adolf Augustus Berle: Head of “Junior School” (born 1866; d. Nov. 19, 1960)
  • 1952–1962: Benjamin D. Chamberlin (retired Feb. 1, 1962) (died age 59, May 21, 1962)
  • 1962-1972: James J. Quinn Jr., Ph.D. (1922-1996?)[9]
  • Aug 1972– May 1974: E. Duane Meyer, Ed.D
  • June 1974-1983 Anthony F. Capraro III, Ph.D.
  • Late 1983 Mar 1984: Andrew Thomas Carr Stifler
  • Mar 1984–Mar 1988: Lawrence N. Tallamy
  • 1982–1982 Andrew Thomas Carr Stifler

Notable staff[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Johnny Marks (1927): wrote the music to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (b 11-10-1909 – d 9-3-1985)
  • Jerome David Salinger (attended from 1932 to 1934) (born Jan 1, 1919)
  • Martin Mayer (1943): Best selling author (born Jan 14, 1928)
  • Haynes Bonner Johnson (1948): Pulitzer Prize winning columnist (Washington Post) (July 9, 1931-May 24, 2013); Journalism Professor, Univ Maryland
  • Felix George Rohatyn: Financier who engineered the bailout of NYC in the 70s (born May 28, 1928)
  • Ted Koppel (born Feb 8, 1940) Entered McBurney ’53, graduated 1956 at age 16) (ABC News Anchor) (Nicknamed “Dumbo” in the 1956 Yearbook) (aka: Edward James Koppel)
  • Richard Thomas (born June 13, 1951): actor in “The Waltons;” attended grades 10 thru 12, graduated about 1969
  • Alan Merrill (name Allan P. Sachs; b Feb 19, 1951): Rock Musician; attended in ninth and part of 10th grade; classmates with 1967 grads[10]
  • Henry Winkler (Actor) (born October 30, 1945) (graduated 1963)
  • Gordon Joseloff (Journalist) (born May 13, 1945) (graduated 1963)
  • Bruce Wasserstein: Investment Banker (grad 1964, born 1948)
  • James R. Gaines (born 1947, grad 1965): Author, chief editor of Time, Life and People magazines
  • Paul F. Levy: Attended grades 11 and 12, graduated in 1968; Former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Bran Ferren (about 1964-1966): Designer and Inventor


  1. ^ "Richard Thomas".
  2. ^ "Conversation with Haynes Johnson, p. 1 of 4".
  3. ^ a b "Bruce Wasserstein’s Westport Connection", Westport Now, Thursday, October 15, 2009
  4. ^ Profile: Felix Rohatyn, US State Department
  5. ^ "Archives & Special Collections · University of Minnesota Libraries".
  6. ^ The McBurney School Catalog 1962
  7. ^ A 41-Story Tower Is to Rise Over the West Side Y.M.C.A. NY Times
  8. ^ "NYC Condo and No Fee Rental Buildings - CityRealty".
  9. ^ Dates located from this entry: While the gravestone data is consistent with Dr. Quinn's military record, there is no direct confirmation of his ties to McBurney at the site.
  10. ^

Coordinates: 40°46′16″N 73°58′51″W / 40.77105°N 73.98088°W / 40.77105; -73.98088