Curious about the origins of your street's name? Check out this annotated map created by Lake Street resident Clifford Blau:
Streets of White Plains
A Brief History of the Former Ridgeway Country Club:
A New York Times article in the Business & Finance section, dated Tuesday, March 14, 1922, states:
"Lease Golf Course Site. More than 100 acres have been leased by the Gedney Farm Company to the Gedney Farm Golf Club, through Price Ripley, brokers. An eighteen-hole golf course is planned on the property."
Gedney Farm Golf Club's history dates back to the pre-Revolutionary War era when John and Bartholomew Gedney purchased a large tract of land in White Plains. A luxury resort hotel, Gedney Farm Hotel, was built in 1912. Guests included Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. It had an 18-hole golf course, tennis facilities, swimming pool, bowling, squash courts, stables, a polo field, ice skating rink, and a kennel for pets of guests. Howard Willets, who owned racehorses, stabled them in a barn that later became the men's locker room at Ridgeway Country Club. On September 20, 1924 a fire destroyed the Hotel. Eddie Cantor, a guest at the time, witnessed the 9-hour blaze.
The golf course remained as part of the Gedney Farm Golf Course until 1952 when it was purchased by a group of individuals from Harry Lewis and renamed the Ridgeway Country Club.
On January 20, 2011 the French-American School of New York officially took control of the former Ridgeway Country Club, purchasing the 58-year-old club for $8,500,000. It was previously listed for $20 million. The rest of this sad story is still unfolding....
Pictures from Our not too Distant Past:
Yesterday in White Plains (2003), by Renoda Hoffman
It Happened in Old White Plains (1989), by Renoda Hoffman
The Changing Face of White Plains (1994), by Renoda Hoffman
White Plains Historical Society
Special thanks to Ruthmarie Hicks for current images on our Home Page
On September 29, 1909, George Tomlinson (pictured left) crash-landed his plane at Gedney Farm in White Plains (the estate of Howard Willets) during a failed race from Grant’s Tomb to Albany. The race was sponsored by George Pulitzer to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s famous voyage. The following week, Wilbur Wright had better success completing a flight of his air machine around the Statue of Liberty and up the West Side, wowing a crowd of more than a half-million people who had never seen an aircraft in what is now arguably the busiest air-space in America.
Source: 50 Fabulous Facts About Our History, Westchester Magazine, February 2011
Gedney Farms in Film:
Parts of the movie Goodbye, Columbus (1969), starring Richard Benjamin, Ali MacGraw and Jack Klugman were filmed at the former Ridgeway Country Club.
Gedney Farms in Literature:
Mrs. Spencer Tracy and John Tracy Clinic: A Tireless Drive to Educate Deaf Children
By Patricia Mahon, Published May 2012
Louise Treadwell Tracy (1896-1983), the wife of film legend Spencer Tracy, takes center stage in this work. Providing background information on her life before her marriage in 1923, her own acting career in the theater, and the people who influenced her throughout her life, this work focuses on the profound effect the discovery that their son John, born in 1924, was deaf had on the Tracys.
Excerpt (pp. 35-36):
Now Louise always lived according to her purse; when it was sparse she lived sparingly and when she was flush she preferred to live well and did. She could adapt ... it was easy for her. So while in White Plains, she had accommodations at the Gedney Farm Hotel twenty miles or so outside the city where a number of other actors in the same company took rooms.
The Gedney Farm Hotel used to be Gedney Farm. But times were changing and the farm changed with them. In the fall of 1912 the owner, Howard Willets, hired the best architect of the day and changed the "mangers into ballrooms." He blew out the concrete mangers with dynamite and the long low stables of millionaire horsemen were changed into a ballroom with hardwood floors and electric lights. The restaurant, called "Ship Grille" with all the accessories nautical, included a model of a Viking ship. The Gedney sat high on a plateau with natural forest surrounding it. The building suggested a French chateau with its long wings and turreted front. It had the latest of everything: billiard room, indoor swimming pool, ice rink, smoking rooms, private baths, in each guest room, and a bowling alley. It also had its own barber shop and grocery store. Outside there was a garden and tennis courts. Nearby was the Gedney Golf and Country Club, which included its golf course, polo fields, kennels and stables. All sat on four hundred acres of land. Tile and marble were used throughout the hotel; fireproof doors and elevators of the highest quality were installed. Celebrities like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks frequented the Gedney.
In 1921 Edward Crandall bought the hotel and ten acres surrounding it for one million dollars. A number of the Leonard Wood Company of actors found rooms there. The new owner had a son, James, who wanted to be an actor; on occasion he found work on the stage, so his father gave actors a very good rate.
Spencer had a place in town so most of their time was spent at the theater. He and Louise spent their time getting to know each other while working in one play and rehearsing another. He discovered her mother called her Weeze and he liked that, often calling her Weeze too. They enjoyed many a lunch at the tiny donut shop close to the theater where it was standing room only having donuts and buttermilk. Once or twice Spencer traveled out to the hotel to have dinner with Louise and occasionally she went to town on the motor bus provided free of charge by the hotel to have dinner with him. Six weeks later on a Sunday evening there was a party at the Gedney and Louise and Spencer attended. After the customary dancing and before the evening was over Mr. Tracy proposed to Miss Treadwell. She was not surprised and happily accepted.