Dominican Academy was founded by the Dominican Sisters in 1897 as a co-educational school for grades K-12. In 1936, the Academy moved from its original location at 706 Madison Avenue to the former Friedsam mansion at 44 East 68th Street, where it remains today.
The building was constructed in 1921 as the private residence of Colonel Michael Friedsam, the former president of the B. Altman and Co. and one of the premier art collectors in America at that time. The six-story building fashioned in limestone was designed by Frederick Frost, with wrought ironwork by Samuel Yellin. Friedsam's collection contained numerous masterpieces by artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Jan Van Eyck, and Botticelli. Many of the original architectural elements, including carved marble fireplaces, stained glass windows, and ornate woodwork, are still in place today creating a unique environment for learning.
Upon Friedsam's death, his collection, valued at a whopping $10,000,000 (in 1931), was split between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. The executors of Colonel Friedsam's will sold the building to the Dominican Sisters for $1, under the provision that it always be used for educational purposes. D.A. graduated its first class in 1939 and has seen hundreds of young women thrive in its hallowed halls.