Agar Avenue is a Street in the Premium Point Park neighborhood of New Rochelle, near the border of Larchmont, south of Post Road. It winds down a hillside to meet the northeasternmost reach of Echo Bay — one of those fingers of the Sound that the moon renders mostly mud and rivulets for a lot of the day. Not surprisingly, Agar Avenue was originally given the index, Hillside Ave. It was renamed to honor John Giraud Agar, a distinguished lawyer, whose opulent residence Fair Oaks had been located nearby.
Agar’s Fair Oaks (not located on Agar Avenue)
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There are two separate streets in New Rochelle with the name Acorn: (1) Acorn Lane (as previously described) and (2) Acorn Terrace (in the East End). The symbolism of acorns was described at length in the entry for Acorn Lane.
Technically, Acorn Terrace is in a neighborhood called, “Pine Park,” a moniker that seems to have fallen out of use. Like most of the East End, the land upon which Pine Park was developed was once devoted to the ice operation at Crystal Lake, which was filled in by John Stephenson after the water turned brackish and (possibly) malarial.
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Adams Street is located in Homestead Park. Without citation, the Standard Star suggested that this street was named after the second president (John Adams) and the sixth president (John Quincy Adams). That this street was named after both presidents, I cannot confirm. But that it was named after at least one of these presidents appears quite likely given that other streets in the vicinity have names like Lincoln, Monroe, and Jefferson. Indeed, it would be unusual (albeit not impossible) that this street was named after some other individual named Adams (who was not president).
Homestead Park was developed by Adrian Iselin (Sr.) in the very late 1800s and very early 1900s. The New Rochelle Pioneer reported that contracts were awarded for the first two houses in April 1899 — frame “cottages” designed by Charles Lupprian with “two stories and attic, equipped with all improvements” and costing about $3,000. Iselin was a very wealthy Wall Street banker — so wealthy that his banking house helped finance the U.S. Government during the Civil War. Reluctant to be photographed, generous philanthropist, fond of chrysanthemums, Iselin established a summer residence in New Rochelle and soon the Iselins became prominent citizens owning a fair amount of property in the city.
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Acorn Lane is part of the Larchmont Woods development, which straddles New Rochelle and Larchmont. The road itself lies completely within New Rochelle, but some of the houses on Acorn Lane are in Larchmont.
Westchester County Atlas (1930)
An acorn is the nut of an oak tree. (A nut, by the way, is a fruit comprising seeds and a hard shell that protects the seeds). Specifically, an acorn is a single seed protected by a tough shell, which is partially enclosed by a cupule. Acorns are actually edible. If they are shelled and leached of bitter tannins, they can be turned into flour or sometimes oil. They are a common sight in most deciduous woodland landscapes.
The word Acorn is symbolic. By convention, the word “acorn” has come to stand for the nut of an oak tree. But it can also stand for other things, such as a utopian picturesque woodland (the streets in Larchmont Woods, especially the original names, generally refer to the forest). It may also stand for even more general concepts, like raw Potential. As Aristotle said: “Each human being is bred with a unique set of potentials that yearn to be fulfilled as surely as the acorn yearns to become the oak within it.” Or it can stand for combinations of these concepts.
It is important to note that symbolism is founded on convention. One can envision an alternate universe where the acorn signifies not the picturesque but any number of concepts that would not resonate with — or even positively repulse — homebuyers. Like a world where acorns were the favorite snack of a terrible despot. Or a world where various denominations of currency were identified by nut varieties, with the acorn serving as the lowest denomination. Or a new denomination whereby the possessor of an acorn (or token bearing such likeness) was obligated to pay someone else (money or acorns). Or whereby the holder would forfeit property if it were found in their possession.
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Acacia Terrace is named after the Acacia tree. The Standard Star reported that the name comes from three large acacia trees at the western edge of the property. Another resident recalls that acacia trees “lined the street.” Today, no acacia trees appear to remain.
The acacia, also known as “the wattles,” is a member of the legume family. It is not native to New York, favoring warmer climes. I suspect — and this is pure speculation — that the existence of acacia trees at this locale in New Rochelle was due to the proximity of the dock on Ferris Creek, which was used in the 1800s for trading with the West Indies.
Starting in the 1820s, the land was owned by David Harrison, a Brooklyn attorney who acquired the property as his country seat. Harrison was reportedly an “eccentric” — which appears to have meant that he suffered from dementia and bequeathed only meager amounts to next of kin. His will(s) (successfully contested) specified for his internment on “Round Island,” an island located in Echo Bay. Round Island is now one of the islands in Five Islands Park, now aptly called Harrison’s Island. I could find no record of Harrison’s final resting place, so I can’t rule out that he is buried there.
1867 Westchester County Atlas
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We remain in New Rochelle’s far northern end. Like Abbey Close, Abingdon Lane is also in Scarsdale Downs, but on the other side of Baruad Road.
1867 Westchester Atlas
In the mid- to late- 1800s, the land between Baraud Road, Wilmot Road, and the Scarsdale line was a farm owned by George A. Robbins & family. Other than maps, I could only find one mention of the Robbins farm despite much searching. And it was this: in the year 1884, three uncommonly large potatoes were grown there. The three potatoes together weighed 4.5 pounds. They were called: “the Beauty of Hepburn.”
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Abbey Close is a street in the very northernmost reaches of New Rochelle. It is in the “Scarsdale Downs” neighborhood, which is, not surprisingly, very close to the border with Scarsdale.
Let’s break up the name Abbey Close into pieces. The name Abbey — this is pure myth. An abbey is a complex of buildings used by monks or nuns under the governance of an abbott. But there was no abbey on the New Rochelle-Scarsdale border — so the name word Abbey must mean something else, something more. Here, it was meant to evoke images of English gentry. You know, like Downton Abbey. This is confirmed by one 1930 advertisement for Scarsdale Downs, which promised “aristocratic homes” that are “distinguished in aspect.” A coat of arms also makes an appearance, so you know it’s legit.
Now the suffix, “close.” In architecture, a “close” is the area immediately surrounding a cathedral bounded by walls and a gate that was closed at night — hence, a “close.” And it has been applied to street names to mean any dead end street. While it is not terribly common in the United States, it is very common in England (i.e., it’s the second most common street name in England).
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Aberfoyle Road is in the Highland Park neighborhood of New Rochelle. It is named after the town of Aberfoyle, Scotland.
USGS Topographical Map (1995)
Highland Park under construction (USGS 1897)
Highland Park was developed by the Irish-born lawyer James A.S. Gregg. In 1891, Gregg acquired eighty acres of the former Badeau farm, which sat on land overlooking what is now the lake in front of the high school. The name “Highland” presumably harkens to the Scottish Highlands, a particularly picturesque and rugged region in northern Scotland. The use of the suffix “Park,” no doubt was inspired by other suburban “park” developments like Llewellyn Park in West Orange, NJ (1855) and, closer to home, Rochelle Park (1885), which was a few miles south on North Avenue.
Aberfoyle is located in the “Trossachs,” a scenic district that was popularized by Sir Walter Scott’s literary works like Rob Roy and the Lady of the Lake. In fact, it is said that Scott wrote Lady of the Lake while he stayed in Aberfoyle.
Dairy River Vol. 12 is now available!
Forget what I said about the new cover previously, this is definitely the new cover of Volume 12.
Very close to finally being finished.