The secret to finding Waccabuc—Westchester's legendary "secret suburb"—is to simply turn north off of Route 35 onto Mead Street.
Settled as a family retreat in the late 18th century by the Mead family, Waccabuc is one of six hamlets in the sprawling town of Lewisboro. Just 50 miles north of Manhattan, this historic community draws both celebrated weekenders and those under-the-radar full-timers who appreciate the beauty of the land, the privacy, and the proximity of recreational opportunities. In fact, try as they might, some just can't stay away. "My husband grew up in Waccabuc and his parents still live here," says Leslie Henshaw. "For that reason we were looking to buy a home in every town except Waccabuc! One day we realized that we were spending all of our free time here, so we reversed our search and looked exclusively in Waccabuc. It feels like a getaway. You can drive up Mead Street and it feels like Vermont, and make your way to the lake and it's as though you've arrived in the Adirondacks."
According to the Waccabuc Landowners Council, the Comte de Rochambeau marched south on Mead Street when he led the French Army troops under his command to join General Washington in 1781. The 524-acre historic district surrounding this well-worn path now looks very much as it did by the late 19th century, and the council endeavors to keep it that way.
One way that the WLC preserves Waccabuc’s vintage charm is by limiting development and imposing minimum property sizes—generally two to four acres. An exception to that rule is Hunt Farm, a development of approximately 40 houses, built in the late 1980s on the site of a former dairy farm. Populated with Colonials, Capes, and farmhouses on half and three-quarter-acre plots, Hunt Farm attracts both empty nesters and families starting out because the association covers most of the maintenance. In Waccabuc, where the average price of a home today is over one million dollars, a typical house on one of Waccabuc's most prestigious roads is this four-bedroom, renovated Colonial on four and a half acres currently on the market for $1,295,000.
With no town center to call its own, neighbors meet at the Post Office, the club, the beach, and at events sponsored by the Landowners Council. Gatherings range from spring egg hunts to social activities and cultural events. The Friends of Mead Memorial Chapel host concerts at the early-20th-century stone church—a place that is consistently and erroneously rumored to have been the site of Marilyn Monroe’s wedding to playwright Arthur Miller (they married in a private home down the street). Also, the nearby Lewisboro Town Park offers a variety of recreational programs for adults and children.
While neighboring North Salem and Bedford may be better known for their horse farms, there are a number of equine enthusiasts in Waccabuc, as well. The100-acre Old Field Preserve straddles Mead Street and includes 2.5 miles of riding trails that are open to the public.
Standing guard on the west side of Mead Street is the venerable Waccabuc Country Club’s main clubhouse. A stately, former Mead family home, the club's property now includes an 18-hole golf course, tennis and paddle courts, and a boathouse and docks with extensive frontage on Lake Waccabuc. The lake itself is a popular fishing, boating, and ice-skating destination. In fact, the lakeside lifestyle—afforded by Lake Waccabuc as well as some smaller nearby watering holes—defines summer living here for those with lake frontage, lake rights or a club membership.
Waccabuc, where architectural styles run the gamut from antiques to contemporaries, has something for everyone, including some of these current offerings from Houlihan Lawrence.
Ready to make a move to Waccabuc? Here are a few details you might like to know:
Who's moving here? "Many buyers who are moving to Waccabuc full-time are relocating from more densely populated areas of Westchester County or the city," says Houlihan Lawrence agent Susan Stillman, who has lived in the hamlet since 1981. "They come looking for a more rural lifestyle with a community feel or for more space--both for living and recreation. Weekenders, on the other hand, come in search of a tranquil getaway that is within a reasonable commute to New York and offers a leisurely summer lifestyle."
Where do the kids go to school? Katonah-Lewisboro, or local independent schools such as Rippowam Cisqua, the Harvey School, or Ridgefield Academy
- How's the commute? 62-70 minutes via Metro North's Katonah Station or an hour and change by car
- Where do they shop? Just two miles west in the hamlet of Cross River is a shopping center anchored by DeCicco Family Market and Cross River Pharmacy
- Any good restaurants nearby? BaCio in Cross River; Hayfields, Vox and One Twenty One in North Salem; The Farmer & The Fish in Purdys; The Horse & Hound Inn in South Salem; and The Inn at Pound Ridge
Waccabuc Country Club photo courtesy of Linda Broudy; Gunther Hartwick painting of Lake Waccabuc, c. 1865, reproduced with the permission of the Mead Studwell Collection