So here’s a place I’ve wondered about for years . . .
I’ve driven by here many Saturday mornings, after my weekly run with the Taconic Road Runners Club. (Come join us! We’re friendly!)
But that slowly sinking tower . . .
The elegant gate . . .
This sure looks like an estate, no? So grand! So stoney! Somebody important must have lived here, right?
Perhaps . . . if you know who Mrs. Georgia McDonald Reed was. According to Patrick Raftery of the Westchester County Historical Society, she was a daughter of John B. McDonald, a contractor/engineer who oversaw the construction of August Belmont’s Interborough Rapid Transit Line, aka the first subway line in Manhattan. Check out what I found in the Library of Congress’ “Chronicling America” about her father:
That’s an interesting connection, but it doesn’t tell us anything about her or her husband. What I CAN tell you is that the lake you can glimpse from the road, is indeed a manmade lake (like so many others in this neighborhood. Teatown Lake is another.) Apparently, it was a big thing in the 1920s to dam up creeks and create a private lake, and here’s a news item detailing Mrs. Reed’s dam project:
And here, in this 1929 map, you can see Shadow Lake, the fruit of the above labors:
(You can also see Jeanne Eagels’ estate right across Croton Dam Road on this map! Check out this previous blog post if you don’t know who that is!)
Now, after years of intermittent and desultory armchair research, I have turned up little more about the Reeds. In fact, I still haven’t found anything about Mr. Reed. According to the 1930 census, Mrs. Reed was married, living on her Shadow Lake estate, but was listed as the head of the household (where was Mr. Reed?) She also had a “lodger” whom I only mention because his name was enchanting – Archibald M. Fauntleroy. I think I shall name my next cat after him.
I did find this one delightful item in the Ossining Citizen Sentinel from May 7, 1931 in which Mrs. Reed loans some land to Ossining Boy Scout Troop 10, allowing them the privilege of camping on her property and swimming in her lake:
I am curious to know precisely what portion of the estate was set aside for the scouts to use. The article says it is “nearest Ossining and within easy hiking distance of the community.” I wonder if it traversed some of the Briarcliff-Peekskill trailway, perhaps skirting around David Abercrombie’s Elda Castle? Regardless, this seems like a lovely thing to do, but the way the article is written gives the impression that Mrs. Reed was a bit pruney:
“Shadowlake is well kept and cared for and it is expected by her that if the troop uses the land it will not suffer by their occupancy.” Ah, I suppose that was the just the style of the times.
But if anyone can shed any more light on Mrs. Georgia McDonald Reed (or the elusive Mr. Reed) please leave a comment!