History of the Town of Mamaroneck
Mamaroneck, a Native American name translated as "the place where the sweet waters fall into the sea," is located just twenty-three miles north of New York City on Long Island Sound. Established at the mouth of a river and at the head of a harbor, John Richbell a London merchant living in Oyster Bay, purchased the land in 1661 from the local Siwanoy Indians for a supply of tools, kettles, clothing and wampum.
On May 17, 1788, the Town of Mamaroneck was officially created by an act of the New York State Legislature. 18th and 19th Century residents earned their livelihoods by farming, fishing, lumbering and milling. Manufacturing arrived with the 19th century and most was located (as it is today) in the Mamaroneck Village section. Larchmont Village and the Unincorporated Town were, and largely remain, residential.
On Christmas Day 1848 a New York & New Haven Railroad steam engine running along a single track made its first trip through Mamaroneck on its way to New York City. Despite the complaints of local farmers that the smoke was ruining their crops and the noise was frightening their livestock, forty years later there was a four-track line and a huge granite commuter station on Chatsworth Avenue. Situated on Long Island Sound, Mamaroneck became a popular summer residence for New York City’s wealthy residents and a haven for those fleeing polio and influenza epidemics. The Village of Larchmont was incorporated in 1891 and the Village of Mamaroneck was incorporated as part of two towns, Rye and Mamaroneck in 1895.
Westchester County had a housing boom after WWII and the Boston Post Road soon became inadequate for the increased volume of traffic. During the 1950’s the Town sold part of Larchmont Gardens Lake and its surrounding park to the Thruway Authority and the New England Thruway (originally called the Pelham-Port Chester Highway) opened in 1958. It carved a path through the Unincorporated Area.
The first Town Meeting was held on April 2, 1697 at the home of Ann Richbell, widow of Mamaroneck’s founder, John Richbell. Samuel Palmer, a local Quaker leader, was elected first Town Supervisor. Town meetings were conducted annually and now are held twice a month. Before the current Town Center at 740 West Boston Post Road was completed, Town meetings were held at the Weaver Street Firehouse.
Today, the Town of Mamaroneck, with its beautiful Long Island Sound waterfront and easy access to highways, airports and Metro North train service to New York City and Stamford is a prime suburban residential community.
The Villages of Larchmont and Mamaroneck
The Town of Mamaroneck includes the entire Village of Larchmont (one square mile), the Unincorporated Area (5.7 square miles which is not part of either village), and that part of the Village of Mamaroneck west of the Mamaroneck River bordering Rye Neck (2.3 square miles). Both the incorporated villages and the unincorporated Town are self-governing and define the Town as a political and governmental subdivision of the State of New York.
The Town provides direct municipal services - police, fire, sanitation, highway among others - to the residents of the Unincorporated area, and recreation, property assessment services and election supervision to both villages.
The Town of Mamaroneck elects its own officials, adopts its own laws, and manages its own finances under the direction of a Supervisor and four council members. The Supervisor is elected for a two-year term and the Council members for four years.
The Town Board is vested by New York State with control of legislation, appropriation of monies and decision-making on general local governmental policies. The Board authorizes the annual budget and the collection of taxes required to finance it. Each of the council members is appointed by the Supervisor to serve as liaison to several committees and commissions.
- In the mid 1930s, a Murray Avenue student asked her father (lyricist Fred Coots) to write a song for her to perform at a school musical. He wrote "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", which was then performed for the very first time on the stage of Murray Avenue School. (Other popular Fred Coots works include "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and "Love Letters in the Sand")
- During the 1940s and 50s, Jackie Gleason and Herb Shriner were frequent house guests of 211 Hommocks Road, a house owned by Mae Rose Youngstein and her Hollywood-director husband. Built in 1892, this house – known as the "Howell Cottage" – was part of the original Thomas Palmer estate passed to his Howell heirs.
- Other celebrities who’ve lived in the Town include entertainer Eddie Foy, Jr., Ozzie Nelson, Lou Gehrig, artist Norman Rockwell, movie director Ang Lee, and silent movie stars Lillian and Dorothy Gish.