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 and Richard Thomas,[1] physician Lewis Thomas, journalists Ted Koppel [(Haynes Johnson)]Cite error: The <ref> tag has too many names (see the help page). designer/inventor Bran Ferren, musicians Adam Horovitz, Richie Birkenhead and Richard Goode, historian David Brion Davis, J.D. Salinger, and financiers Bruce Wasserstein[2] and Felix Rohatyn.[3]


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,[4] 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."[5]

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.[6][7] 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)
  • 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?)[8]
  • 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
  • 1920: Adolf Augustus Berle: Head of “Junior School” (born 1866; d. Nov. 19, 1960)
  • Andrew Thomas Carr Stifler (1982–1982): Andrew Stifler, Headmaster at the McBurney School and former college counselor at the Dalton School; he now is director of development at Hill School (K-8), Middleburg, Virginia

Anthony F. Capraro III, Ph.D.(Yale PhD) is now President of Teach in Purchase NY and Chair/Founder of, a non profit corp to help,students who are minority, from an inner-city, or from low income families, attend college.

References in Popular Culture[edit]

In a 1992 episode of the NBC television series Seinfeld, entitled The Pez Dispenser, the McBurney School was the site of the piano recital given by George Costanza's girlfriend Noel, a concert pianist, which was ruined when Jerry placed a Pez dispenser on Elaine's purse, causing her to laugh uncontrollably. The school is also briefly mentioned in the book The Catcher in the Rye. The author, J.D. Salinger, had gone to this school.

Notable staff[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile: Richard Thomas", NNDB
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference WESTPORTNOW was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Profile: Felix Rohatyn, US State Department
  4. ^ Robert Ross McBurney
  5. ^ The McBurney School Catalog 1962
  6. ^ A 41-Story Tower Is to Rise Over the West Side Y.M.C.A. NY Times
  7. ^
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^

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