01.Nov.2017 Amherst Drive

Amherst Drive is located off Weaver Street in the North End, just south of the Hutchinson River Parkway (joyfully known to locals as the Hutch).  It is part of a development that was given the name, “Quaker Hill.”  It is located on land that was previously part of the Broadmoor Country Club, and before that, owned by George G. Murray.  Many of the streets in the development appear to have been named after members of the developers’ family.  No clear connection to Amherst is known, although I have a theory (a weak one).

Around the turn of the century, the Larchmont Water Company owned series of reservoirs built along the Sheldrake River, whereby water flowed by gravity from the reservoirs to the village.   The Larchmont Water Company was founded in 1889 by Charles H. Murray, who succeeded as President of the Larchmont Manor Company when Thompson J.S. Flint died in 1882.  Charles’ nephew, George, eventually assumed the position of treasurer.  Scientifically-minded (he was the inventor of several patents), George seems to have taken an increasing role in the water company.  In 1910, George G. Murray is listed as owning about 40 acres of land wedged between the Sheldrake River to the west,  Weaver Street to the east, and Watson B. Dickerman’s Hillandale Farm to the south.

In 1911, Murray sold the land to the Tryon Realty Corporation, which was ostensibly controlled by Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, a wealthy industrialist and horseman.  Like his neighbor to the south, W.B. Dickerman, Billings raced “trotters” (harness racing).  The crowd was so large with rabble when he opened his stables at 196th Street, that he moved the party from the stables — horse and all — to an indoor catering hall.  It does not appear that Billings ever built one of his lavish mansions on the land in New Rochelle.

CKG Billings (person) and Lou Dillon (horse)

In 1925, a group of Scarsdale and New Rochelle residents combined land on both sides of Weaver Street to form the Broadmoor Country Club.  W.W. Caswell’s estate (on the Scarsdale side of Weaver Street) was adapted into the clubhouse.  The course was laid out by noted golf course architect Devereux Emmet.  Emmet, born in Pelham, laid out over one hundred golf courses including local ones like the Hampshire, Pelham, and Lake Isle Country Clubs.

After the Broadmoor Country Club closed, the land on the New Rochelle side was acquired by land developers, Stanley Becker and George Hofstadter.  Becker served in the Navy in World War II and worked in construction in Long Island after the war.  Hofstadter belonged to a family of polymaths, including the Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Robert Hofstadter and the philosopher Albert Hofstadter.  Together, Becker & Hofstadter developed the land from Broadmoor as “Quaker Hill.”

As for the name Amherst, I could find no real connection to either Becker or Hofstadter.  Becker had lived in Great Neck for a time and there was an Amherst Road in that town.  Perhaps he was inspired by it (or perhaps even lived on that road).  Or perhaps there was no concrete connection and the pair relied on it to evoke images of English aristocracy (e.g. Jeffrey Amherst, an officer in the British army).

 

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