All About Armonk

North Castle Daily News

Smith's Tavern Campus
Smith's Tavern Educational Campus

Preservation and Hospitality

Join the North Castle Historical Society, neighbors and friends for a relaxing and fun evening at the society’s annual fundraising event on Tuesday September 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Gavi Restaurant, 15 Old Route 22 in Armonk.

The Partner in Preservation event helps maintain North Castle’s four historical buildings at the Smith’s Tavern Educational Complex located at 440 Bedford Road, Armonk. The complex is open afternoons on Wednesdays and Sundays for private tours and visits; it also hosts community and educational groups upon request and conducts Colonial Crafts Days for area schoolchildren.

A portion of Smith’s Tavern predates the American Revolution, as the building played many roles in North Castle’s history. Over the years, the tavern was a Revolutionary War militia headquarters in 1779, voting place, and stage coach stop. From 1798 to 1850, the town’s first post office and the first town hall meetings were held there.

Captain John Smith was owner of the tavern in 1797.

Operated for nearly 150 years, the Brundage blacksmith shop provided services from blacksmiths who shod horses and oxen, and smelted and forged metal household items and tools.

East Middle Patent School was open in the eastern part of town through the mid 1960’s. The one-room school house had one teacher who served pupils in grades one through eight.

The 1798 Quaker Meeting House housed an active congregation in town for nearly a century.

The fundraising event will be co-sponsored by Rosen and Company which is participating in the evening's events. Gavi Restaurant, will serve a delicious spread. The Historical Society’s Board of Trustees have gathered superlative silent auction items donated by some of North Castle’s most generous businesses.

Wine, beer, food and desserts are all included for the price of an $80 ticket. To reserve a seat, please send checks to North Castle

Historical Society at 440 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504, or buy tickets online at

The hosts and sponsors are grateful for your support. We hope to see you there.

Introducing Mr. Creemer

March 27, 2017
Join The North Castle Historical Society at the Armonk Library on April 9 at 2:00 p.m. to hear what life was like for one of North Castle's leading citizens during the last half of the 1800s.

The Historical Society's 45th annual meeting will include a brief business meeting and the election of its trustees prior to the presentation about William H. Creemer.

Mr. Creemer married Phebe Jane Green whose family lived and gave their name to today's Green Valley Road, where their home still stands today. Creemer's accomplishments and community involvement were extensive as he was a farmer, blacksmith and wheelwright; owner of Brooklyn express company; journalist and diarist; inn keeper; St. Stephen's Vestryman; North Castle election inspector; North Castle overseer of the roads; North Castle assessor; and North Castle town clerk.

Brundage Blacksmith Shop
North Castle Historical Society
North Castle Preserves History

September 16, 2016
The North Castle Historical Society held its fundraiser for the preservation of the buildings at the Smith’s Tavern Educational Complex, dining outdoors surrounded by the gardens of the Italian tavern of Amore Italian Kitchen.

Anna Maria Marrone, president of the Historical Society, was thrilled with the turnout of nearly 100 people. Sharon Tomback, co-town historian, and Marrone worked closely together, with the assistance of other board members to coordinate the event. “I love this job and the community is delighted to help and support to maintain the historical buildings," said Marrone. “We have to pass this history along to our children and grandchildren.”

Bidding at the silent auction was the highlight of the evening with over 30 items donated from many local businesses and individuals.

“It’s only through community support that the Historical Society can accomplish all that is needed to maintain the four buildings located at our beautiful historical complex at 440 Bedford Road," Marrone added.

The historic Smith’s Tavern served the public as a militia headquarters, taproom town hall, stagecoach stop, voting place and post office dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. The East Middle Patent Schoolhouse served grades one through eight when it stood on East Middle Patent Road in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 1798 Quaker Meeting House provided a meeting place for the Quakers on Cox Avenue for nearly a century. And the Olde Brundage Blacksmith Shoppe served North Castle through several generations in the 1800’s from its former location across the highway from Smith’s Tavern.

The evening’s proceeds will go toward the roof repair of the Brundage Blacksmith Shop. Because it’s an historical building, there are special qualifications needed in the craftsmanship and that cost a premium," said Marrone. "As a non-profit organization, the Historical Society relies solely upon fundraising to fund all its capital improvements."

Joe Mazzotta, co-owner with his brother Mark of Amore Pizzeria, is a history buff. He said he wanted to help the Historical Society in any way he could. “The mere fact that these buildings are still standing, warms my heart, and it should, we don’t want to lose them.”

The Mazzotta brothers have surrounded the back of the Tavern with a patio of a European flair with hanging flowers, and vegetable and herb gardens. Trays of passed appetizers, and a delicious buffet were served with foods straight from the gardens. Amore first landed in Armonk 21 years ago at the Town Centre Shopping Center. They have since moved to One Kent Place. The history of the original building dates back to 1930s when it was Tony’s, which was a road side restaurant, bar, foodstand and general store on the main thoroughfare through North Castle, on the New York-Danbury Post Road.

Smith’s Tavern Panels Commemorate Washington-Rochambeau Trail
By Jackson Harrower

June 20, 2016
Two National Parks Service panels have been constructed outside the North Castle Historical Society's Smith’s Tavern commemorating the historic Washington-Rochambeau Trail. The first panel begins, “If you were standing here between July 3 and July 5, 1781, you would have seen thousands of French soldiers marching past Smith’s Tavern.” The trail was the route on which a French army of 5,300 men under the command of General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau met with General George Washington’s Army of 4,300 men and proceeded to Yorktown, Virginia to attack the British army under the command of Lord Cornwallis. Washington and his troops were impressed by the disciplined and well stocked French troops, while Rochambeau was inspired by the enthusiasm and commitment of the malnourished and poorly clothed Americans. The combined American and French forces laid siege to Yorktown on October 9, 1781 and forced the British to surrender on October 19.

The victory at Yorktown turned the tide of the American Revolution in favor of the Continental army. The Washington-Rochambeau Trail was the largest troop movement of the American Revolution; 1,300 miles of marches through nine of the thirteen original states, a month of fighting, and thousands of personal encounters along the way established a new era of tightly knight French and American brotherhood.

Source:  Selig, Robert, PhD. "Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 20 June 2016.

The events during the Battle of Yorktown were captured in the song "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" from the album "Hamilton" (Original Broadway Cast Recording).

History of Smith’s Tavern
By Emily Sherman

June 15, 2016
Long before Armonk Square was the center of town, there was Smith’s Tavern. Smith’s Tavern is located on Route 22 north of town, at the 37-mile marker from New York City on what-was-then the Danbury Turnpike, at 440 Bedford Road.

It was known as a stagecoach stop where town meetings, elections, and general gatherings took place.

Doris Watson, the late North Castle town historian, takes the viewer on a vibrant "house tour" of the tavern, with details and facts in “A Visit With Our Past,” a 1996 documentary produced by The North Castle Historical Society.

Captain John Smith, former Patriot soldier during the American Revolution, purchased the building and land of what became Smith’s Tavern from Harrison and Phebe Palmer in 1797, the original main room of the building dating to the late 1690s. Smith then grew to prominence as he became the town clerk of North Castle in 1798 and was commissioned as North Castle’s postmaster in 1809.

Following his death in 1843, Captain John Smith's son, Samuel Smith, took over as the tavern keeper. Similar to his father, Samuel was also town clerk. However, social and political activity began to diversify around the 1850s when Sands' Mill and Banksville became popular centers of town, causing the popularity of Smith’s Tavern to decline. After Samuel Smith’s ownership, the tavern was purchased and converted into a private residence; at that time, the tavern's former functions of stagecoach stop and post office shifted several miles north to Hiram Finch's General Store, which is now a private residence at the entrance to Windmill Farm. Smith's Tavern remained in private hands until 1977 when The North Castle Historical Society bought the tavern, with the help of IBM, in order to share it with the community.

Beautifully restored and maintained, today Smith’s Tavern’s history and charm remain present and easily accessible to all. Among the artifacts and features of the tavern are preserved furniture and household objects such as candle sconces and fire bellows that can take visitors back to the turn of the 19th century. Walking in and signing into the guestbook, guests are reminded of the absence of modern technology and are quickly introduced to the life that the tavern once boasted. Anyone visiting will find the tavern bustling with historic pieces that were present at the founding of North Castle. Low wood-beamed ceilings and a small bedroom are examples of the tavern’s authenticity. In addition, seasonal exhibits are put together year-round for visitors to enjoy and learn about North Castle’s rich history.

Understanding the history of North Castle gives a special insight into the role Smith's Tavern has played in the founding and evolution of the town. One of the best and most interactive ways to learn more about Smith’s Tavern is to visit it in person, with friends and family. The community is welcome to tour the Smith’s Tavern complex from April through December on Sundays and Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.; the complex also includes three other historic buildings: the Brundage blacksmith shop, the East Middle Patent School, and the Quaker Meeting House. Volunteer docents are glad to answer all questions and to assist guests during their visit.

Special Thanks to The North Castle Historical Society for the Following Document: HISTORIC SMITH'S TAVERN "The House of Living History" Volume 39 - 2012

Doris Watson
Banksville Community House

Banksville Community Unveils Bench Honoring Doris Watson
By Jackson Harrower

June 7, 2016

On Sunday afternoon a bench was dedicated to North Castle historian Doris Finch Watson at the Banksville Community Day picnic hosted by the Banksville Community House. The crowd was jovial on the misty Sunday evening as friends and family gathered around the covered marble bench.

Barbara Lovely of the Banksville Community House began the ceremony, saying, “In life Dorrie was an inspiration, a leader, a role model, a go-getter, a friend and a force to be reckoned with. She was quick with wit, offered solid advice, and knew how to live life to the fullest. Dorrie was and always will be a pillar in this community. This bench will serve as a reminder of how much she meant to us personally and as a community.”

Sharon Tomback, North Castle’s Town Historian and longtime member of The North Castle Historical Society added, “From 1964 to 1991 Dorrie and Bill jointly led all the operations for the community house. Dorrie loved the activities at the Banksville Community house. She was an enthusiastic and successful supporter throughout her life. She recruited leadership to carry the Banksville Community House forward. She conceived and executed hugely successful fundraisers, and she led by example. Dorrie was both a role model and a mentor. She taught and encouraged; she cheered us on. Yes when necessary she cajoled us. When you leave, take away that one thought: she led by example.”

After the speeches, the crowd toasted to Watson’s memory with her evening drink of choice, champagne, and her grandchildren unveiled the the bench.

Doris Watson’s name will forever be associated with the history of North Castle.

Old Mount Kisco Road: A View Into The Past
By Jackson Harrower

May 31, 2016
Old Mount Kisco Road was once the center of one of the largest settlements in North Castle in the mid 19th century. The settlement, known as Mile Square, was bustling with commercial and residential activity primarily from the mill along Wampus River that was first constructed by John Hallock in 1737 but became Wright’s Mill and eventually Sands Mill.

Original residents built their homes into the hillside to avoid the marshlands along the flat points of Wampus River. The hillside of Old Mount Kisco Road was referred to as Chemung Mountain. The residents either worked at the mill or were local farmers and merchants. In the early to mid 1800’s shoemaking was prevalent in the community. Merchants would give families the materials for shoes; the families would make the shoes at home and exchange the finished products for local store credit. Families would then use the credit to buy products that they could not make themselves, such as kerosene or sugar.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, as New York City’s water supply needs grew and automobiles became increasingly prevalent, almost all of the properties of Sands Mill were destroyed either to reduce Wampus River pollution or to straighten and widen the road that would become Route 128.

The properties of modern day Old Mount Kisco Road continued to be an important resource to the community into the 20th Century. In the early 1900’s visitors would come to the farm stands to experience a taste of country living. City dwellers of the 1920’s would stop by for lunch after taking their cars up the newly constructed Bronx River Parkway. Armonk Airport on the east side of town also attracted large crowds. Families would picnic in the fields as biplanes took off and landed.

Many of the original houses from the 19th Century still stand today. As you walk down the quiet street, you can transport yourself back to the mid 1800’s. At that time, many more trees would have been down, as the wood was used for construction and fuel. The air would smell of burning wood and animals. In the evenings the homes would be dimly illuminated with candles and kerosene lamps. 124 Old Mount Kisco Road, which is now a house, was the T.R. Smith Shoe Store in the 1860’s. If you wanted to travel out of town you might walk to the house of Mr. Charles Johnson, 128 Old Mount Kisco Road. He was the operator of the Kensico & Armonk Stage Line. Your children could attend the Sands Mill School House. If you were looking for a pint you would walk down to the tavern at 122 Old Mount Kisco Road. 138 Old Mount Kisco Road was the butcher shop where you could purchase local meat for special occasions.

You worked hard, lived simply, and you were deeply rooted in your community. The residents of Armonk today may live faster paced lives and travel more often out of Armonk, but the strong sense of community remains to this day. If you ever find yourself with a sunny afternoon and nothing to do, take a stroll down Old Mount Kisco Road and relive the roots of our beautiful town.

Special Thanks to The North Castle Historical Society For the Following Documents:
Richard N. Lander,  “Sands’ Mills” Volume 7 No. 1, 1980;
Doris Finch Watson, “North Castle’s Shoemaking Industry” Volume 24, 1997;
Christine Eggleton “Old Mount Kisco Road, Armonk, New York” Volume 42, 2015

The North Castle Historical Society's Evening of Camaraderie. Dedicated to Our Happy Memories of our Dear Friend Dorrie Watson August 2, 2015

Smith’s Tavern Is Open for Business

August 3, 2015
Over 100 guests joined The North Castle History Society (NCHS) for dinner at the Smith's Tavern Complex on Sunday evening. Guests were reminded of the town's rich history at the same setting where thousands of travelers passed through for more than two hundred years. The evening’s fundraiser brought back imagery of Smith’s Tavern past, dating back to the late 1600s to the mid-1800s when Captain John Smith and his son Samuel Smith owned the property. A farm, voting location, meeting place, tavern, store, the town’s first post office and stagecoach stop were among its multiple uses over the years.

Although there were no stagecoaches or town meetings on August 2, 2015, these travelers were treated to “an evening of camaraderie” while they raised almost $10,000 toward the restoration of the Brundage Blacksmith Shop, according to Leo Vircillo, NCHS Treasurer. There was much support provided by many businesses that are spread across North Castle and beyond (too many to list here).

The Brundage Blacksmith Shop is in need of new roof shingles, said Stuart Brown, NCHS vice president. Repair is also needed on an interior wall that is between where the working tender-footed oxen were shod and the hammer and anvil rang in the blacksmith shop.  

"Today’s efforts to maintain these buildings will benefit future generations," said Anna Marie Marrone, president of NCHS. “This community support is vital to the preservation of our history.”

Sharon Tomback serves on the NCHS board of trustees as corresponding secretary. She has also been appointed North Castle’s co-town historian following the evening’s posthumous guest, “our Dear Friend Dorrie Watson.” Tomback added, “The camaraderie, the happiness and people joining together to make this a community is most rewarding.”

The evening included a Smith’s Tavern tour of its open-hearth kitchen, the taproom with its caged bar, and the collection of early household furniture and implements. "It’s important for people to know that we have such an historical and beautiful place here," said Marrone. “This history belongs to the people of the Town of North Castle.”

Joe Plunkett was the lucky winner of the 50/50 drawing. He said, “This is a great event and it’s wonderful what the Historical Society is doing.” Joe is the husband of Barbara Plunkett, who is the manager of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, which co-sponsored the evening’s event. Barbara added, “As Douglas Elliman is provincial, we support all of the historical societies to keep the provincial character in each of the small towns where we have offices.” As their Bedford and Armonk offices share real estate territory, they hope to hold a fall business meeting in the NCHS’s 1798 Quaker Meeting House which is available to the public by donations for meetings and gatherings.    

Susan Shimer, Landmarks Preservation Committee chair, said, “I’m delighted to see that the community has an interest in our history. We have four important buildings here of our town’s history. There are other important buildings as well,” she said, “such as the Miller House/Washington’s Headquarters that we have been hearing a lot about. What brings our community together is our children’s schools and the community’s fabric which includes our buildings and their history.” 

The one-room East Middle Patent School was located in the rural neighborhood of Bedford. For three quarters of a century, children in grades one through eight walked to the school that served that area until 1961. Mrs. Lawrence Lanfair taught there for many years and was known as a remarkable teacher. Retired school teacher Diane Brown, who serves as an NCHS docent, said Mrs. Lanfair’s dedication as an educator was most likely the reason why the school remained open until 1961. The East Middle Patent School and the Brundage Blacksmith Shop were moved to the North Castle Historical Society property in 1982.

The community is welcome to tour the Smith’s Tavern Complex from April through December on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Annual memberships to NCHS are welcomed and appreciated. Please look for their yearly drive to arrive in your mailbox. Memberships are as follows: Family $30, Individual $20, Sustaining $50, Patron $100, Corporate/Business $100, and Life Member $300--paid once. North Castle Historical Society is located at 440 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504.

Brundage Blacksmith Shop

Preserving the Historic Blacksmith Shop

July 16, 2015

In January 1876, Maurice Brundage of M. W. Brundage Horse-Shoeing & Jobbing billed Mr. George Sherwood $4.49 for work done from November 3 to October 8, 1874. The hand printed record in black ink and old English included an itemized list of the following jobs: New Tyre $2.00, Mending Dash $.25, New Bolts $.05 & $.15, 4 New Shoes $1.50, Towing New Shoes $.40, and Sharpening Cro Bar & Pick $.08 & $.06.

The days of the horse-drawn wagons and carriages, and farming in North Castle are long gone, but not forgotten thanks to the North Castle Historical Society. Today, the Brundage Blacksmith Shop is located at the Smith’s Tavern Educational Complex at 440 Bedford Road, Armonk.

The North Castle Historical Society is holding a fundraiser to paint, protect and preserve the Old Brundage Blacksmith Shop. Wine tasting, gourmet appetizers, a sumptuous dinner and decadent desserts will be served on Sunday August 2 at 5:00 p.m. under a tent at Smith’s Tavern. RSVP to The NCHS 440 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504 and include a check payable to The NCHS for $60 per person. The North Castle Historical Society thanks Douglas Elliman Real Estate for sponsoring the event.

Although some of the history of the Brundage Blacksmith Shop remains clouded, we do know that several blacksmith shops and wheelhouses were operating in North Castle in the mid-1800’s when horses were the mode of transportation and oxen worked the farms.

In 1875, Maurice Brundage bought three acres with a small house and wheelwright (wagon) shop from the J.E. Stivers family that was on the southwest corner of Danbury Post Road and Bedford Road (Route 22). The original site of the Brundage Blacksmith Shop was at the southeast corner of Bedford Road and Route 433 that was known as Danbury Post Road, presently Nick’s Deli Mart property. At some point, believed to be around the turn of the century, Maurice Brundage moved the blacksmith shop approximately 125 feet across to the west side of Danbury Post Road, to his three-acre parcel.

It is also known that James Edward Stivers operated the blacksmith shop and the wheelwright shop on the homestead farm of 116-acre property owned by the family of David Brundage in 1851. David Brundage purchased the farm in 1816 and lived there until his death in 1839. David’s son, Harrison Brundage, lived on the farm his entire life until his death in 1891.

Blacksmith James Stivers died in 1870 and Maurice Brundage, who was thought to be Stivers’ apprentice, became the shop proprietor when he was 18 years old. Maurice Brundage, Harrison’s son, was said to be the first of the well-known Brundage blacksmiths. Maurice owned and operated the blacksmith shop until his death in 1905.

Maurice Brundage’s sons, Harry Maurice and James Chester, continued to run the shop. James left the business while Harry operated the shop until his death in 1954. He continued to operate it for 60 years until, at age 75, he had a heart attack among the tools and artifacts of his trade.

“He was the last of his craft, and perhaps the last of his kind,” remembered the then Honorable James D. Hopkins.

In 1955, overseen by Albert Cerak, then the President of the Battle of White Plains Monument Committee, the old Brundage Blacksmith Shop was carefully dismantled, parts numbered and removed, and stored at Cerak’s property in White Plains. Cerak expressed the Committee’s hope that someday the shop would be part of a colonial village. For many years, Cerak was the curator of the Miller House/Washington’s Headquarters, on Virginia Road in North White Plains.

And then in 1980, it was agreed to by Cerak and Doris Finch Watson, then the President of the North Castle Historical Society, that the old blacksmith shop would returned to Armonk at the Smith Tavern Educational Complex, a stone’s throw from its original location. In 1981, the Armonk Lions Club offered to financially support the Historical Society to relocate the building from the Cerak’s residence to the site at Smith’s Tavern.

Today, the old Brundage Blacksmith Shop is filled with many of Harry Brundage’s tools: the forge on its narrow metal legs, the much-used anvil and bellows, and the adjoining old ox-cramp shed. All of these relics, and more, were most likely passed down through the generations of the Brundage smithies.

Now, the doors of the shop swing open to hundreds of grade school children who visit on the annual Colonial Crafts Day. The students appear in awe of the authentic blacksmith setting which includes a one horse-open sleigh, adorned with sleigh bells, that hangs from the ceiling.

The historic Smith’s Tavern, including the the Brundage Blacksmith Shop, the one room East Middle Patent Schoolhouse and the 1798 Quaker Meeting House is open for visitors on Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Messages may be left at 914-273-4510.

Much thanks to the North Castle Historical Society for the information from “North Castle History” Vol. 8 No. 1, 1981, “The Brundage Blacksmith Shop” by Doris Finch Watson, Richard N. Lander, and Barbara S. Massi.

St. Stephen's Cemetery
North Castle Historical Members Present Civil War History
By Rich Monetti

January 14, 2015
History can seem so abundantly accessible that we got forget that someone had to actually dig up or dust off a primary source to create a narrative. This was exactly the scenario presented before the North Castle Town Board by Armonk co-authors Nicholas Cerullo and George Pouder in their novel, North Castle’s Response to President Lincoln’s Call for Draftees 1861-1865.

“Nick discovered this record in the basement of this [Town Hall] building,” said Pouder. “It became our starting point and Rosetta Stone.”
Referring to a ledger kept by the town of North Castle, the source attempted to document as much information on residents who served in the Civil War and how North Castle fulfilled the military service quota laid out by the president. “North Castle definitely wanted to avoid issuing a draft,” said Cerullo.
Encompassed in the issue, the $300 exemption that allowed the rich to escape service applied. So North Castle gave its residents the chance to purchase a town bond and the $300 sufficed to help reach the quota number.
Privilege even paid dividends. “You eventually got your money back on the bond and 7% interest,” said Pouder.
This left 166 working class residents to serve voluntarily. “My job was to put a human face on each man,” said Pouder who is a 92 year old World War II Veteran.
Also utilizing source material from the New York Civil War Database, the Westchester Historical Society and the National Archives, the co-authors learned that the Demarest family could lay claim to both the youngest and oldest New Yorkers serving in the war. “15 year old Billy Demarest ran away and signed up aboard the USS Miami, while his father joined up at age 55 and was a private in the army,” said Pouder
North Castle’s most prominent hero was Edward Fisher. Enlisting as a private, Fisher would gain the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and earned battlefield commendations at Bull Run and Antietam. His death on June 22, 1862 left him buried on the battlefield but a plaque still bears his name at the Fisher Family Cemetery on Route 22 near North White Plains.   
North Castle’s African Americans certainly pulled their weight too – many serving in segregated units in Connecticut. Predominantly descending from slaves freed by nearby Quakers communities, said Pouder, “They lived in the hills on the White Plains, North Castle border.”
But whatever the level of idealism each soldier and citizen exhibited for the cause, the paradoxical nature of American race relations revealed itself in the document and foretold a part of our future. “African American names were scratched out from the beginning pages of the record and all moved to the back,” said Cerullo.
Regardless, the endeavor didn’t leave either author conflicted. “Putting together the novel was simply a labor of love,” concluded Pouder.

A Time for Thanks

November 26, 2016
David Clauson Banks was the great-great grandson of Samuel Banks, a member of one of North Castle’s oldest and founding families. Samuel Banks came to Middle Patent circa 1698.

David Banks enlisted to serve his country during the Civil War in 1861 at the age of 34. He was assigned medical duty in charge of hospital wagons and tents in Belle Plain, Virginia.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1862, David Banks wrote in his journal:

   “A beautiful clear morning and mild as May. We are all happy that we have so fine a day for Thanksgiving - although we have no means of raising anything extra in the way of eatables. Our dinner today is Pork and Beans with hard bread and coffee, and I think we are lucky to get that. At any rate we will not grumble.”

After the war, David Banks and Sarah Ann, his wife, moved to his father’s large working farm on the westside of the Banksville hamlet on Bedford-Banksville Road. The Banks’ family farmhouse still exists today as one of the North Castle’s private historical landmarked homes.

When their two daughters had grown, David Banks and Sarah Ann, purchased land and moved to a home they built just north of Finch’s Store. That was the only store in the area at the time.

Ella, their older daughter, married William Finch, son on Marvin Finch, who owned Finch’s Store. The Finch family dates back to 1720 in the Banksville area. The Finch Store traditions continue as the new proprietor still serves the community with its rustic charm.

Sarah Ann and David Clauson Banks lie among seven generations of the Banks family in the Middle Patent Rural Cemetery. Their (and the generations that proceeded them) commitment to family and the community will always remain part of North Castle’s rich history.  

David Banks' story appears as an article in Volume 30 of the North Castle Historical Society’s 2003 publication.

Thank you to the Historical Society for preserving North Castle’s history.

Lessons from the Past at Colonial Crafts
By Shirley Kaiser

October 18, 2014
A day exploring colonial crafts at the historic Smith’s Tavern was full of hands-on fun and “did you knows” for the fourth graders of Wampus Elementary School last week.

“Colonial Crafts is great for kids because they get to experience life like the colonists did,” said parent volunteer Marie Morris.  “It lets them, touch, feel, make things and play with toys that they normally wouldn’t use, like a ball and cup toy or weaving looms.” She added, “The North Castle Historical Society puts their hearts and minds into making this a great day for the kids.”

During the event, the children toured nine stations to learn about life at this Revolutionary War militia headquarters and 1790s stagecoach stop. At the tavern and its surrounding hamlet, costumed artisans greeted the children and took them through lessons in the colonial kitchen, candle making, broom making, butter making, coopering (bucket making), blacksmithing, tinsmithing and fife and drum corps.

In the kitchen, children learned much more than how difficult it was to prepare a single meal. Kitchen hostess, June O’Neill, gave the kids something to think about as she explained that children were often kept out of school to do chores and plant and harvest the crops. Then she shared some fun facts from colonial times.

Did you know:

• Popcorn was considered a luxury because the colonists didn’t want to waste valuable corn on a treat?

• Walnuts and acorns were used as units of measure?

• Pasta didn’t exist in the colonies?

“Her butter is awesome!” exclaimed student Declan Lederer about the freshly made butter that he and his classmates churned under the direction of historical hostess, Susan Geffen. “It was a time of patience and process,” Mrs. Geffen told the children. “Today everything is really fast.” She took a moment out to remember long-time civil servant, Becky Kitteridge, who hosted many churning sessions in the tavern room.

Did you know:

• The term ‘grill’ in ‘bar & grill’ has nothing to do with food? The ‘grill’ is the gate that hangs over the bar and swings down to lock up the bar.

• Smith’s Tavern was a popular stagecoach stop for travelers en route from Stamford, CT, to New York City?

• There’s a secret panel in the tavern that was used to hide money and weapons? Visitors are encouraged to stop by and seek it."

You are growing up in an amazing time,” said cooper & colonial woodworker, Jim Taylor, whose lessons on the art of bucket making included the difficulties people of color faced in colonial times. “Be good to each other, listen to your teachers and your parents and help each other along the way," he concluded.

North Castle Town Court Judge Elyse Lazansky who organized the day on behalf of the Byram Hills PTSA said, “Smith’s Tavern is such an amazing resource that our community has to offer. It’s great to be able to share it with our children.”

Smith’s Tavern is home to the North Castle Historical Society. It is located at 440 Bedford Rd. (Route 22) in Armonk. Visitation runs from May to November on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (except holidays) and by appointment. Call 914-273-4510.

Special Halloween Event:  Sunday, October 26, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pumpkin decorating, ghost stories, refreshments and more. Suggested donation:  Adults $5.00 and Children $2.00.

Armonk School House

North Castle’s Schools -- Over Two Centuries Old

August 10, 2014

Prior to the 1920’s, Armonk’s three smaller schools had about 25 to 30 students each, ranging from ages 6 to 16. The children walked to school, the day began with a ring of the teacher’s bell, a salute to the flag, the Lord’s Prayer, and singing of the patriotic anthem, perhaps accompanied by the teacher on the organ. During Armonk’s cold winters, the children and teachers were swaddled in their winter coats, hats, and gloves while indoors -- even though the furnace brought heat to part of the room. The indoor temperature was just barely above freezing, says James Hopkins, as he remembers back to 1917 when he was a student of “Miss Webster’s School.”

The three schools in District No. 4, North Castle were the Armonk School, the Webster School and the Whippoorwill School. The Armonk School was located on the north side of School Street, near Wampus Avenue. The two-room schoolhouse was where Miss Dorothy Poole was the primary teacher and Miss Lula Aldous was an upper grade teacher and principal. The one-room Webster School on Cox Avenue was named after the dedicated teacher Miss Lillian Webster who was fondly remembered by students, parents and the school district’s administrators. There was also the one-room old Whippoorwill School on Whippoorwill Road. Two of the school houses today remain as private homes and the third is occupied by Adopt-a-Dog on Cox Avenue.

In 1923, the Town of North Castle and the Town of New Castle combined their school districts and formed the Common School District No. 5. The consolidation closed Armonk’s smaller schools and opened the Whippoorwill School on Whippoorwill Road East in December of 1924. Over the next decade the Whippoorwill school’s enrollment grew, the curriculum flourished, and the building was expanded to accommodate the growing population. In 1951, the primary classes were moved to the new Wampus Elementary School that is located on Wampus Avenue.

1956 was also a transition year for Armonk Schools. The Whippoorwill School became overcrowded.  Some children had to attend school at temporary locations: the American Legion, the Armonk United Methodist Church’s education wing and Breezemont Day Camp.

In 1957, grades six through nine were moved to the new North Castle Junior High School on McDonald Avenue. Harold Crittenden taught 7th and 8th grade at the Whippoorwill School starting in 1924, and also served as principal until 1935 when he became a full-time administrator. In 1960, Harold Crittenden announced his retirement and the North Castle Junior High School was renamed Harold C. Crittenden School. The Whippoorwill School building closed in 1971 and opened in 1985 as an apartment building with 24 units at Whippoorwill Commons.

In 1961 Byram Hills School District was formed as Central School District No. 1, for students residing in the Town of North Castle, and small sections of the towns of New Castle, Bedford and Mount Pleasant.

On Route 22, the Coman Hill Elementary School opened its door to Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders in January 1965. Over the past two centuries, there were four different Coman Hill school buildings that opened in the general area that is about four miles northeast of the downtown hamlet of Armonk. The first one-room Coman Hill School opened around 1813. This building was replaced by a larger one-room schoolhouse in 1854. The third Coman Hill School opened in 1915 and closed in 1956 when the Coman Hill School District and Armonk Districts consolidated.

Byram Hills High School

Byram Hills High School opened its doors in 1966 and graduated its first class almost 50 years ago in 1968.

Thank you to The North Castle Historical Society. The historical information was obtained from the following booklets: North Castle Historical Society, “Miss Webster’s School” A Fond Remembrance of School District No. 4 by the Honorable James D. Hopkins,1982; The Four Coman Hills Schools by Constance Quarrie, 1978; Armonk Schools,1923-1961, by Harold C. Crittenden, 1984; Whippoorwill School by Marie Conversano, 1997.

It Takes a Village to Put on An Antique Show

March 6, 2014
Accolades to the North Castle Historical Society that sponsored the Armonk Antiques Show and the Preview Party on February 28, March 1 and 2 at the Brynwood Golf and Country Club in Armonk. The club’s banquet room was transformed into a country manor with 31 antique dealers reflecting all types of interest from collectors.

The antique show was well attended, with over 70 people attending the preview party to kickoff the weekend. Doris Finch Watson, North Castle’s Town Historian and founding member of The North Castle Historical Society, was chairwoman of the Antiques Show and Preview Cocktail Party. “We were delighted to have the help of local businesses to act as sponsor," said Ms. Watson who coordinated the collaborative efforts of sponsorships from Houlihan Lawrence, sponsor of the Cocktail Party, while the Bristal Assisted Living Group and DeCiccio Family Markets co-sponsored the Antiques Show.

The show was on a five-year sabbatical, said Ms. Watson. The last Historical Society’s Antiques Show was held in 2008 at the Byram Hills High School. The show was discontinued since then due to the economic downturn.

Many visitors commented on how beautiful the show was. Some were lucky enough to go home with one of the five traditional raffle prizes. Others purchased pieces of fine art, antique furniture and estate jewelry among the collections and carried them out with pride.

The North Castle Historical Society plans to sponsor the show again next year. Barnstar Productions, from Rhinebeck, NY, managed the show that was overseen by Frank Gaglio.

North Castle Historical Society
The Armonk Antiques Show --  An Answer to the Winter Blues
By Nomi Schwartz

February 20, 2014
The North Castle Historical Society extends a warm invitation for a chilly winter weekend on February 28 and March 1 and 2. A decade’s long tradition, the Antiques Show reappears this year after a hiatus with fine antiques, art, and jewelry and some new features. The Show may be previewed Friday night at a gala Preview Cocktail Party and visited on Saturday, March 1 (10 am -7 pm) and Sunday, March 2 (11 am to 5 pm).

Both the Party and the Show  will be held at Brynwood Golf & Country Club, 568 Bedford Road in Armonk. Tickets for the Preview Cocktail Party, sponsored by Houlihan Lawrence, are $50 and must be reserved by emailing or by phoning 914-273-6605/, or by mail to the Society at 440 Bedford Road, Armonk. Tickets for the Show on Saturday and Sunday are $10 and may be purchased at the door. Show sponsors are DeCicco Family Markets and Bristal Assisted Living in Armonk.

According to Doris Watson, general chairman of The Armonk Antiques Show, the Show has not been held for a number of years because of the economic downturn. “But now,” she said, “It’s 2014 and we are thrilled to be putting the show on again with a new venue [Brynwood Country Club] and a new show manager [Barn Star Productions]. This is the first time the Show will not be held in a school building and the first time we will be have a preview cocktail party.”

Watson, who was appointed North Castle Town Historian in 1993, was one of the founders of the Antiques Show 31 years ago. She has been involved in every show since and remains one of the most active members of event. “I am very pleased to say that this year we have a full house -- every available space has a vendor,” she told AllAboutArmonk. “This show includes high-end, very fine furniture, art, and jewelry.”

President of the North Castle Historical Society, Ree Schultz, is also very pleased that the Antiques Show has returned to help support the preservation work of the Historical Society in Armonk and North White Plains.  “The money raised through the event and raffle makes it possible for us to keep the historic buildings in good shape and make improvements,” Schultz said. “In a town where so much is new and modern, places like Smith’s Tavern and the Elijah Miller House [in North White Plains] give people, especially young people, a sense of the history of the town. We open Smith’s Tavern, along with the Meeting House and the Blacksmith shop, Sundays from April through November, with docents accompanying visitors and explaining the exhibits. The trip to Smith’s Tavern is a highlight of the year for all the fourth graders.”

Antique Show to Arrive in Armonk

January 21, 2014
The North Castle Historical Society and Barn Star Productions have been working tirelessly toward producing one of the finest antiques, art and jewelry shows Westchester County has seen in recent memory with an exhibitor list and diversity sure to impress.

The 31 year old event has moved to a new home at the Brynwood Golf and Country Club, 568 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY. The show will present 30 dealers specializing in categories that range from fine formal and rural American, English and Continental furnishings to exceptional works of art,

important Asian, English and domestic ceramics, rare books and documents, designer and estate jewelry, Arts and Crafts pottery, early brass candlesticks and copper, Oriental rugs, eclectic decorations as well as cool folk art, figural cast iron door stops, silver, German Black Forest carvings, needlework samplers, nautical Woolies, garden antiques and much more.

The weekend festivities begin with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres benefit preview party for the Historical Society on Friday evening, February 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m for a very reasonable $50.00 per person donation. The antique show is designed to attract first time collectors as well as seasoned veterans looking to enhance and advance their personal collections. Monies raised from the party go toward ongoing community projects and advancement of education in the arts. The preview party is sponsored by Houlihan Lawrence. The show sponsors are DeCicco Family Markets and The Bristal Assisted Living in Armonk. For tickets to the preview party please call Sharon at 273-6605. The show will continue through Saturday, March 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 2, from 11:00 a.m. to  5:00 p.m., with your one-time admission good for the entire weekend (sign up for return pass).

This year’s exhibitor list includes veterans of the show plus many new and exciting additions including Axtell Antiques of Deposit, NY, Gary Bardsley Antiques of Sudbury, MA, The Cooley Gallery, Old Lyme, CT, Knollwood Antiques LLC of South Bridge, MA, Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, MA, Brad Reh Fine Estate Jewelry, Port Jefferson, NY, James M. Kilvington, Greenville, DE, Zane Moss, NY, NY, Imperial Fine Books and Oriental Art, NY, NY, Maria and Peter Warren Antiques, Wilton, CT, Leatherwood Antiques, Sandwich, MA, Jaffe and Thurston, Warwarsing, NY, Brianne’s Vintage Chic, Greenwich, CT, Garvey Rita Art & Antiques, Hartford, CT, Eve Stone Antiques, Woodbridge, CT, Jane Langol Antiques,  Medina, OH, Debbie Turi Antiques, Roseland, NJ, Brennan and Mouilleseaux, Northfield, CT, Tanya Yacoub Antiques & Interiors, White Plains, NY, Egon Teichert Fine Prints, Hauppauge, NY, Nancy Steinbock Posters, Chestnut Hill, MA, Soheil Oriental Rugs, NY, NY, Framont Fine Art, Greenwich, CT, Ron & Marilyn Saland, Scarsdale, NY, Fair Trade, Shelburne Falls, MA, Barbara Peter and Mary Ross, Sayville, NY,  Nicholas DiBenedetto & Co., Inc., East Quogue, NY, Dualities, Larchmont, NY and Art and Antique Gallery, Inc., Worcester, MA.