One of the things that endlessly fascinate me are the ‘gates to nowhere’ that I pass on my runs. You know what I mean — those stone entranceways that sit just off the road, often covered in vines, sometimes with a name carved into them. The last vestiges of a grand estate sitting forlorn and forgotten. It’s at once tragic and mysterious to me that someone once spent the time and effort to install a stone gate to mark the entryway to their property, yet today it’s reduced to a stub of a thing leading nowhere. What happened? Why? Where are the people that put the gate up?
Since I have nothing else to think about when I run, I find myself getting terribly existential, and mourn the ephemeral nature of our world. Then I get mad — it’s a sad commentary on our respect for history that an estate or farm that once merited a grand gate can just be erased from memory and topography by real estate developments. (Of course, to be fair, often those developments memorialize what was there by naming themselves after it.)
Some of these gates are connected to estates I’ve blogged about before. Some are of unknown provenance. If you know anything about these mystery gates, please let me know and I’ll update this post. (Who knows, perhaps they’ll even merit a post of their own!)
This first one can be found on Spring Valley Road, almost exactly across from the Heady Family Cemetery, and is one of the mystery gates. It seems to have “Lichtstern” etched into it on the right-hand pillar. I have not been able to find any records of such a family anywhere in the area. Anyone?
This is the pillar for the entrance to John Cheever’s old house. It looks as if it’s been maintained in the recent past, so I like to think that Cheever had it rebuilt and a new namestone engraved.
Here is the entrance to Carrie Chapman Catt’s former Ossining home, Juniper Ledge. It looks random and forgotten, sitting as it does on North State Road, catty corner to Club Fit, but it is in fact still guarding the driveway to where Catt lived in the 1920s.
These are the pillars for the Brandywine estate entrance, now the Briarcliff Manor Center for Rehab and Nursing Care:
Here’s the entrance to Frank Vanderlip’s estate “Beechwood,” complete with columns left over from the National City Bank building renovation located at 55 Wall Street:
The two photos below show the gate to the Kress Estate (today’s Cedar Lane Park), now and then (the ‘then’ photo is courtesy of grandson Rush Kress via Steven Worthy’s Facebook page “Save the Kress Buildings at Cedar Lane Park“):
These next three examples are likely leftovers from the McCord Farm which, in the 1750s, encompassed about 225 acres and was originally part of Frederick Phillipse’s Manor. (This definitely requires its own post!)
Now, I’ve been told by those who know, that these pillars – found at the intersection of 134 & Kitchawan Road/Croton Dam Road – were the original entrance to the McCord Farm. Since the main farmhouse is all the way over at the corner of Narrangansett and Collyer, I kind of question that assessment, but since I have nothing better to add, I’ll leave it there until I learn more:
This gate sits along Narrangansett near Bayden Road and has been nicely incorporated into the entrance of the current house:
This one’s kind of hard to see, but it’s at the intersection between Croton Dam Road and Narrangansett. If you look really closely, you can see it has brass letters that read “HarrieDean” on the left column:
These pillars are at the corner of Eastern and Watson — not at all lined up with the house behind. So curious!
Are there any other old gates in the Ossining area that you’ve always wondered about? Send photos and locations and let’s see if we can solve their mystery!