25.Mar.2017 Agar Avenue
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.
Premium Point Park was laid out around 1905 by the New York Central Realty Co. On its face, the NYCR Co. appears to be one of those railroad-related land speculation concerns (See Abington Lane). But while it certainly was involved in land speculation, it had no apparent relation to a railroad — the New York Central Railroad had no nearby track (it did not merge with the New Haven Railroad until much later). Instead, the NYCR & Co. was led by William H. Cooper, the Vice President of the Siegel-Cooper Co., whose New York department store stretched 18 acres and was the largest in the world when it was opened. Cooper’s Realty company’s plan “is to acquire property in the line of growth of New York City, and after cutting it up into lots and improving it, to sell it to home seekers.” United States Investor 111 (Jan. 15, 1910).
The original stone gates of Premium Point Park are still visible on the Post Road, between Dunkin Donuts and the Shell station. Early advertisements described the development as “Water Front” with a “Fine View of Long Island Sound” and touting “Boat House and Tennis Court for use of Property Owner.” Also the the dubious, “Highly Restricted.” It does not appear that lots sold quickly however, with advertisements pushing ever-sharper discounts over several years.
To be clear, John G. Agar’s stately residence, “Fair Oaks,” was not located on the site of the road. Fair Oaks was located about a third of a mile away, directly on Premium Mill Pond.
Agar was a prominent lawyer and public servant. He was a commissioner of the New York Board of Education, president of the Municipal Arts Society and the Reform Club. Agar passed away in 1936 and, unfortunately, it appears that Fair Oaks was demolished sometime after that. The circumstances of its demolition are not clear — nor is it clear who was behind renaming Hillside Avenue to honor Agar. But I suspect the demolition of such a grand house would have not gone unnoticed, and it might have seemed like a small gesture toward commemorating his legacy.
It should be noted that some maps (Google Maps) suggest that Agar Avenue only exists at the end of the street, where it switchbacks down the hill. According to these maps, the roadway is called “Agar Drive” in its first segment. This is an error as far as I can see — the New Rochelle GIS lists the entire street as Agar Avenue.