The property was first settled around the 1600s, and mills and farms made use of the area's land and streams until the provincial of the Maryland-New York Province of the Society of Jesus purchased the land around 1897. The Jesuits subsequently constructed the present-day Roth Hall and other buildings, operating the property as the novitiate St. Andrew-on-Hudson from 1903 to 1970. In 1970, the Culinary Institute of America purchased the property and moved its school there from New Haven, Connecticut. The school operates the property as its primary campus.
The property's earliest inhabitance likely started near the Maritje Kill, a small stream or kill in the forest toward the north end of the CIA's cleared property. The river had kept that name since the area's early history, around the United States' Colonial Era, when several mills were built on the kill. The earliest settlements in the area date to the 1600s, however the earliest recorded land transfer was in 1719. A saw mill was located on the property since at least 1786 and according to a 1789 map, a grist mill was located on the northern bank of the kill a short distance west of US Route 9.:1:6
The river was an abundant source for fish, edible plants, and water, and the Albany Post Road (present-day US Route 9) is one of the Hudson Valley's oldest north-south routes. In 1697 the land along the kill was part of Water Lot 3 of Dutchess County's Nine Partner Patent. The earliest use of the site by colonists is estimated to have been around the 1750s. The saw mill, according to the study, was present in 1774. The grist mill was owned by Jeremiah Rogers, a militia officer serving on Long Island during the Revolution. The family burial ground, across the kill, has the graves of Rogers, his son and daughter, and his grandson.:1:8 The property changed ownership multiple times in the 1800s. James Roosevelt owned the land as part of his estate in the 1820s, and by the 1860s a farmhouse and stone terraces were constructed along the stream by Moses Beach. In the 1890s the Webendorfer family of Long Island refurbished the farmhouse and built barns, a tenant house, and other structures. From 1919 until its destruction around 1940, St. Andrew-on-Hudson used the Webendorfer house as a rest home.
A one-year archaeological survey was performed at the school in 2003. The survey found evidence of human activity in the campus' wooded property dating at least 3,600 years, with elements dating from around 1700 BCE and up until the mid-20th century. The survey was a requirement of New York's State Historic Preservation Office in order for the school to construct a new residential complex in a 36-acre (15 ha) expansion to its campus; it was funded by the CIA and conducted by Landmark Archaeology, a company based in Altamont, New York. The surveyors focused on a 5-acre (2.0 ha) site between the Hudson River and Route 9. The site contained two house structures, a dam, a mill, retaining walls, and outbuildings and barns, and was found to be eligible as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. Excavations unearthed foundation walls, a well, cistern, and post molds, and about 40,000 artifacts. Prehistoric objects, dating to the Late Archaic period, included stone tools, byproducts of tool production, projectile points, and fire hearths found in the site's portion used for crop cultivation. A larger area held artifacts from the mid-to-late 1700s, including ceramics, tobacco pipes, coins, buttons, buckles, military objects, thimbles, domesticated animal remains, and an inscribed piece of slate. Due to the findings, the CIA revised its plans to prevent construction on a large portion of the site.
Edward Ignatius Purbrick, an English Jesuit and the provincial of the region's Jesuit province,:16 acquired the property around 1897 to 1899 for $22,500.:2:1, 3 He purchased several farms, from the Butler, Jones, and Osborn families, and the estates of John R. Stuyvesant (Ridgewood) and Webendorfer families (Edgewood). Stuyvesant deeded his property first, on July 13, 1899. John Aspinwall Roosevelt (FDR's uncle) was one of the owners of that property. The acquisition period took nineteen years and seven months, with a total cost to novitiate at $37,901.:3:2