Wykagyl Park, New Rochelle


An ad for the new development which appeared in the New York Tribune in 1919. Image via Library of Congress

Jan 12, 2018 • 09:00am by Susan De Vries   

The suburbs were booming in the early 20th century and the moneyed set had no lack of places to find newly built mansions to rest their wearied souls from the bright lights of New York. Tuxedo ParkBronxville, Scarsdale and endless other communities were, thanks to train routes and the auto, becoming popular as bedroom communities, with planned developments offering the latest in architecture and design.

Joining their ranks in the early 20th century was Wykagyl Park on the northern edges of New Rochelle. While New Rochelle itself dates back to some Huguenot settlers in the 17th century and was a bustling town in the 19th century, its boom as a suburb of New York City didn’t really begin until the end of the 19th century and exploded in the early 20th. Wykagyl Park was just one of the developments popping up in the town, many of them planned with park-like settings.

The early sales pitches for the neighborhood focused on the quiet to be found for city dwellers in the beautiful hills of Westchester or, in the words of one 1919 ad, “a spot close by the rushing maelstrom of city life, a veritable enchantment of quietude for the tired brain worker.”

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Wykagyl Park in 1920. Image of the map in the collection of the Westchester County Archives via Wikipedia

The Wykagyl Country Club was established in 1905, and rapid residential development soon followed. The origin of the name is not entirely clear, although the standard account given is that it is a derivation and combination of two words from the Algonquian language.

The meandering streets of the community quickly filled with the sprawling Tudor, English, Mediterranean and Colonial style mansions popular at the time. Many of those grand mansions remain in the neighborhood, and one with a movie studio connection.

The quirky Mediterranean style house at 58 Croft Terrace was built circa 1929 and was home for decades to Ida and Abraham Schneider, a movie-studio executive.

Schneider started as an office boy in the New York offices of Columbia Pictures in 1923 and rose through the ranks to become the treasurer, vice president and then president by the late 1950s. The couple’s three sons joined the business, all working at the studio.