TOWN HISTORY

Pound Ridge is a small, country town in northern Westchester County with some 1,500 families.

Country roads, winding through land with dramatic granite outcroppings and hundreds of streams, creeks and ponds, make it a picturesque and desirable place to live, visit and do business.


Halle Ravine

Our beginnings date back to the 17th century.  The southern portion of the town was part of a tract of land purchased by Captain Nathaniel Turner from local Indians of the Wappinger Confederation in 1646.

About 3,000 acres of northern Pound Ridge were included in a grant of land to Stephanus Van Cortlandt by William III in 1697.

The name Pound Ridge is derived from an animal pound (a walled compound), that was situated in the oldest section of Pound Ridge, now known as "The Hamlet".  It was first used by local Siwanoy Indians to corral deer.  Later, settlers in the 1700s used the pound to keep sheep, cows and pigs from roaming freely. For the last 250 years there has been much controversy over the spelling of "Pound Ridge" or "Poundridge", but finally in 1948 the Town Board declared the name to be the two-worded version.
 
During the Revolution in 1779, Pound Ridge was the scene of the dramatic raid led by the British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. He overwhelmed the local militia commanded by Major Ebenezer Lockwood and the regiment of Continental Light Dragoons (mounted infantry) led by Lt. Col. Elisha Shelton stationed in the Hamlet area. Fortunately, Tarleton got a bit lost finding Pound Ridge, which enabled the Americans more time to prepare. However, with better than a 2 to 1 advantage, Tarleton (a.k.a. "The Butcher") conquered, plundered, and burned much of the town. The reinforcements arrived, fought back and chased Tarleton away. This all happened on July 2, 1779.


British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton
- portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds

After the war, Pound Ridge continued to flourish. Saw mills, grist mills, blacksmith shops, and general stores were built. By 1850, the population reached 1,486.  
 
The Leatherman was a gentle hermit and interesting character, who roamed the area for 30 years in the latter half of the 1800's. His true story is shrouded in mystery, but he was a large man who loved leather and always wore his handmade patchwork leather outfit (with a leather hat and leather clogs). He lived in various caves or rock shelters and accepted food or leather. He didn't speak but mumbled, and his headstone identifies him as Jules Bourglay of Lyons France.


The Leatherman.


Farmers Picnic, Circa 1890

The Farmers Picnic was held annually on the shores of Trinity Lake and offered music, games, speeches and all-around fun.  It drew up to 2,000 people from the surrounding areas.

In the late 19th century, a new road into Connecticut was constructed (today’s Westchester Avenue) and a business community developed at the intersection of Trinity Pass and Westchester Avenue.


Westchester Avenue, Circa 1954

By the early 20th century, farming had declined as had the cottage industries. The railroads in Westchester, which opened up markets and brought in new people, bypassed Pound Ridge (although three attempts were thwarted, and you can still find the railroad ties). 
Trinity Lake has been enjoyed over the years during all seasons.  Boating on the lake has been a favorite pastime for many generations.


Trinity Lake, Circa 1915


Trinity Pass, Circa 1939

Sometimes winters got a little  heavy, a reminder of Pound Ridge's resemblance to a charming New England town, a quality still found in its many historic houses and small-town warmth.

Driving south on Trinity Pass, which was then a dirt road, in the winter.  The first driver's license in Westchester County was issued to a Pound Ridge resident.


Scofi
eld's Basket Shop, Circa 1954

This area, known as “Basket Town,” became the hub of a thriving basket-making industry along with such cottage industries as shirt making and shoemaking.  One basket factory employed almost 120 workers!  One basket maker, who was blind, traveled by wagon from Basket Town with his assistant delivering his goods from Poughkeepsie to New Haven and beyond.  

By 1920, the population dwindled to 515. Then, during the 1930's things changed. Hiram Halle, an inventor and businessman, came to Pound Ridge from New York City and began renovating and reconstructing houses. He hoped to enhance the community, and it did attract actors, writers, artists, and musicians. They discovered that Pound Ridge was a charming and convenient getaway and began purchasing homes. Benny Goodman was one of the first of these residents, and he even composed a melody entitled "Pound Ridge".  Many creative people and celebrities continue to move to Pound Ridge (sometimes referred to as the 2nd Hollywood).


Hiram Halle House

By the 1940's, Pound Ridge's population rose to almost 800, and it continued to grow slowly and steadily to 4,000 in 1980 and 4,550 in 1990. The current population of the residents of the Town of Pound Ridge, NY includes 5,104 (2010 US Census) living mostly in single-family dwellings on 2 or 3-acre minimum zoning districts.

Interest in the preservation of Pound Ridge's architectural heritage has also been maintained throughout the years. These older landmarks and homes (with wells and barnegats for crushing seashells) are an integral part of the character of the town and provide the community a shared "pride of place".

For more information on Pound Ridge and its history, go to the Town of Pound Ridge web site.

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