02.Oct.2016 Abingdon Lane

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.

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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.”

Sometime between 1884 and 1893, the farm was acquired by Wellcome G. Hitchcock, the president of a large and well-respected dress goods importer (W.G. Hitchcock & Co.).  Hitchcock had amassed vast land holdings (around 1500 acres) in Scarsdale,  Hartsdale, and to a lesser extent, New Rochelle.  But when his business failed — by all accounts abruptly — a company called “Scarsdale Estates” was formed to dispose of the land to satisfy Hitchcock’s creditors.

In the early 1900s (possibly 1904), the land was split in half — the southern end remained a farm — but the northern end was acquired by something called the “New York & Westchester Town Site Company.”  “Town-site” companies were often (if not always) associated with a railroad.

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1910 Westchester County Atlas

The railroad would plot a course and then buy up the land in the surrounding areas in a speculation play.  The N.Y. & Westchester Townsite Co. appears to have been associated with J.P. Morgan’s N.Y., Westchester, & Boston Railway, a defunct commuter railroad that connected the Bronx to Westchester County.  By all accounts, the N.Y.W. & B. was precisely what one would expect from a railroad backed by J.P. Morgan — a magnificent and efficient enterprise.  The old Robbins farm land did not abut a station directly, but it was fairly close to the Heathcote station, which was located at Palmer Avenue and Heathcote Road in Scarsdale.  The railroad declared bankruptcy in 1935.

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1930 Westchester Atlas

As described in the post for Abbey Close, Scarsdale Downs was developed in the 1920s.  Plans were filed with the County for a proposed water pipe extension for Scarsdale Downs, including Abingdon Lane in 1929.  Like Abbey Close, the street name, Abingdon — the village in England where Martha Washington’s ancestors lived — connoted English gentility, or at very least colonial respectability.

 

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