We talk about plenty of homes here, but there's one that occupies a particularly special place in our hearts: our own.
There's truly nowhere like Bronxville, a thriving community that despite a 20-odd minute train ride from Manhattan has over the past two centuries cultivated a unique cultural identity independent of the nearby metropolis. It's a place where walk-to-town convenience meets majestic Manors, built to an equally grand scale as their country counterparts. Dashing financiers share sidewalks with the Sarah Lawrence liberal arts intelligentsia, heading to Slave to the Grind to sip espresso, read Rimbaud or intellectualize with their tweed-jacketed, elbow-patched professors. Ed McMahon lived here, and so did the Kennedys (JFK's Harvard yearbook entry lists the family's Pondfield Road address). They're neighbors on an endless list of notable Bronxville residents, from General Custer's widow to the NFL's Roger Goodell.
Winding Tudored lanes lead towards the manicured thoroughfares of the Village. Pondfield Road forms the heart of town, home to beloved staples like Womrath Books, Sammy's Downtown Bistro and Slave to the Grind—the quintessential 90s-style college town coffeehouse seemingly straight out of Dead Poet's Society. Eclecticism is elegance, it seems. English Cotswold and French Normandy Tudors juxtapose Mission Revival—a vestigial reminder of the Hotel Gramatan, once regarded among America's the finest and the dominant edifice in town (its salvaged bar survives at Slave to the Grind). Between upscale independently-owned boutiques and retailers, you might notice a more modern form of atelier, a studio filled with big screen iMacs and a full-wall mural of the Biggie Smalls lyric "If You Don't Know, Now You Know."
A pristine Lawrence Park original, c.1894, designed by William Bates in the Shingle style.
For us, it's also where it all began—over 125 years ago. Our quaint abode at 4 Valley Road might look modest, but its history is far greater than its footprint, playing a pivotal role in defining the village surrounding it.
Before Bronxville, there was Underhill's Crossing, named for the family of Colonials who settled the area and constructed a mill on the Bronx River. By the early 19th century, the nearby discovery of treasured Tuckahoe marble triggered the first wave of steady development, and the New York & Harlem Railroad followed in 1844. It was about this time the old mill and 86 acres of Underhill lands came to be owned by a man named James Prescott, who purchased 86 acres of farmland which included Sunset Hill, which now overlooks the heart of the Village. Atop it, he erected a Neoclassical manor home, later guarded at the base of the knoll by a small gate house. Meanwhile nearby, Alexander Masterton, the Scots stonecutter and owner of the prized marble quarries, began hosting Hudson River School painters at his home, bringing bohemians to town. The movement's landscape-minded sensibilities assuredly paired well with the primal solace of Bronxville's trickling waterfalls, craggy mesas and majestic woods that, in winter, took a Robert Frostian hue.
An early view 4 Valley Road (left); Our founder, developer William Van Duzer Lawrence (middle); Lawrence Park, c.1908 (right)
Then, along came a man named William Van Duzer Lawrence, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and pharmaceuticals mogul who patented a little elixir with a name now firmly cemented in our vernacular you might have heard of: "painkiller." In 1888, he purchased Prescott Farm and entered the development business, creating a company (that's us) to create and sell a neighborhood he envisioned as a joint weekend community and artist's colony. He carved out home sites and hired architect William Bates on retainer to construct four fine spec houses for buyers of discerning taste. The gate house became the sales office for the neighborhood, christened Lawrence Park, and its eponymous realty company.
We've grown a bit, and so has the gatehouse. Be we've never left home.
Landmark neighborhoods were hardly Lawrence's only contributions to the community. After his young son nearly died traveling to New York City for medical care, he founded Lawrence Hospital, which continues to serve Westchester as part of the New York-Presbyterian network. In 1926, he founded Sarah Lawrence College, which ranks among America's top liberal arts colleges. Past students and alumni have included such cultural icons as Barbara Walters, J.J. Abrams, Alice Walker, Yoko Ono and Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler.
The housing stock in Bronxville offers great aesthetic and functional diversity. Mr. Lawrence hired a balance of both prominent and casual architects to complete his developments in myriad sensibilities—Cotswold, French Norman, Shingle Style, American Craftsman—and that core value of variety holds true in town today. Steps from Metro North, you'll find 600 square foot apartments, 6,000+ square foot estates and everything in between. The town's more venerable homes have greatly been refreshed and modernized, including some of Lawrence Park's William Bates originals.
From its colorful past and predilection for timeless relevancy, Bronxville offers an easy commute and fulfilling lifestyle that brings enjoyment to your every day. Take it from us: we've had 45,000 of them.