Finding a Home for the ‘Tired Brain Worker’ in Wykagyl Park


    The suburbs were booming in the early 20th century and the moneyed set had no lack of places to find newly built mansions to rest their wearied souls from the bright lights of New York. Tuxedo Park, Bronxville, Scarsdale and endless other communities were, thanks to train routes and the auto, becoming popular as bedroom communities, with planned developments offering the latest in architecture and design.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    An ad for the new development which appeared in the New York Tribuine in 1919. Image via Library of Congress

    Joining their ranks in the early 20th century was Wykagyl Park on the northern edges of New Rochelle. While New Rochelle itself dates back to some Hugenot settlers in the 17th century and was a bustling town in the 19th century, its boom as a suburb of New York City didn’t really begin until the end of the 19th century and exploded in the early 20th. Wykagyl Park was just one of the developments popping up in the town, many of them planned with park-like settings.

    The early sales pitches for the neighborhood focused on the quiet to be found for city dwellers in the beautiful hills of Westchester or, in the words of one 1919 ad, “a spot close by the rushing maelstrom of city life, a veritable enchantment of quietude for the tired brain worker.”

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl new rochelle ny

    Wykagyl Park in 1920. Image of the map in the collection of the Westchester County Archives via Wikipedia

    The Wykagyl Country Club was established in 1905, and rapid residential development soon followed. The origin of the name is not entirely clear, although the standard account given is that it is a derivation and combination of two words from the Algonquian language.

    The meandering streets of the community quickly filled with the sprawling Tudor, English, Mediterranean and Colonial style mansions popular at the time. Many of those grand mansions remain in the neighborhood, and one with a movie studio connection and a bit of faded allure is on the market.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    The quirky Mediterranean style house at 58 Croft Terrace was built circa 1929 and was home for decades to Ida and Abraham Schneider, a movie-studio executive.

    Schneider started as an office boy in the New York offices of Columbia Pictures in 1923 and rose through the ranks to become the treasurer, vice president and then president by the late 1950s. The couple’s three sons joined the business, all working at the studio.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle ny

    The Schneiders sold the house in 1967, and it doesn’t look like the new owners updated much past the next decade. If you have imagination and a love for vintage wallpaper, tile and fixtures, the movie-studio sparkle of this house could really be brought back to life.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    It’s no small project: There’s more than 5,000 square feet with grand entertaining spaces on the first floor, including a sweeping staircase just calling for a glamorously slow saunter down the stairs — your own modest Sunset Boulevard moment, perhaps.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    The kitchen and butler’s pantry have both lost any of the jazz-era charm they once had and succumbed to the brown and orange fads of the 1970s but, depending on your definition of “vintage charm,” this may be up your alley.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    There’s a maid’s bedroom on the first floor, but the other six bedrooms are upstairs, including a master with an ensuite bath. The faded allure continues with some groovy carpet and wallpaper combinations.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    There are five full and two half baths, and they look like they haven’t been updated since the 1970s — and even then the owners wisely left the 1930s-era tile work, built-in shower and other fixtures in place.

    upstate homes for sale wykagyl park new rochelle

    Perhaps it’s too much to expect a new owner would keep all of the fabulous bathroom detail in place, but for a true old house lover, finding this level of detail intact is a dream. That dream does, however, come “as is” according to the listing, so there could be unknown issues.

    According to the listing, the property taxes are being grieved — which means they are being contested in hopes of decreasing the annual amount.

    The house is listed for $949,000 by Scott Cohen of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.

    The street also has another claim to fame: A few blocks away on the same street, most likely at No. 90, baseball legend Willie Mays made his home starting in 1960s.

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