In the 1880's, Pierre Lorillard, the tobacco
millionaire and sportsman, acquired approximately 5000 acres of land from his
relatives, some of which he purchased and some of which he won in a poker game.
In the fall of 1885 he hired architect Bruce Price and engineer E.W. Bowditch to
build a new community with roads, sewer, water, 19 homes, a police station, a
clubhouse, and a village, sited around 3 sparkling lakes, nestled in the beauty
of the Ramapo Mountains. The 1800 workmen imported from Italy completed the 30
miles of roads, the infrastructure, the mansions called "cottages", police
station, club-house, village and stores in 9 months. He named it "Tuxedo Park",
the capital of the leaders of American wealth and society, where the "New York
Four Hundred" came to play.
If you couldn't get into "exclusive Tuxedo Park"
you went to Newport, or Long Island, with your mere 20 or 30 million-dollar bank
account. Tuxedo Park was not for the nouveau riches. The New York debutante
season always started with a young lady's presentation at the Autumn Ball at the
Tuxedo Club. It was at this ball that Lorillard's son, Griswold Lorillard, first
donned in America what is now called the "tuxedo". He was described by a
reporter at the time as appearing "in a tailless dress coat and a waistcoat of
scarlet satin, looking for all the world like a royal footman". Because a
Lorillard wore it the "Tuxedo" quickly became accepted by society.
The depression and World War II changed all.
After the crash many of the homes were abandoned, torn down or burned
deliberately in order to avoid paying the taxes. Having grown up in the Park,
Kathy Norris remembers "camping out" in the summertime in sleeping bags in some
of the big old abandoned mansions. Carriage houses, ballrooms, stables, fish
hatcheries, gardeners' cottages and jockeys' homes became fashionable
residences. In 1952 Tuxedo Park became an incorporated village, the taxes
becoming deductible from federal income tax and once again Tuxedo Park became an
attractive place to live.
This elegant private gated community's idyllic
existence has changed little in its quality of life since its inception on June
1, 1886, and although it has retained its elite character you no longer need to
be a millionaire to live here (current home prices range from the $600,000's to
the $3+ million). You still whisk through an imposing stone gateway, past the
old racetrack sweeping past the lakes into this attractive community where
successful businessmen, sportsmen, artists, writers, actors and best-selling
novelists now live. Many of the properties still retain their original ambiance,
graciousness and charm, such as Brook Farm, designed by Donn Barber, with its
famous stable, 100 year old green house and three story lodge; the original
magnificent and resplendent detail such as the 1887 Tuckerman House, first home
of Dorothy Draper, with its fabulous setting, moldings, and herringbone floors;
and Mr. H.W. Poor’s Regally Majestic estate, with its opulent public rooms,
magnificently carved staircase and stunning lake views.
So close to Manhattan, only 38 miles, this easy
commute makes this an even more exciting locale in which to live. Emily Post,
Mr. Poor, George F. Baker, Angier Biddle Duke, Richard Delafield, the Tuckerman
family (Dorothy Draper) all built spectacular homes here. Their architects were
Bruce Price, Donn Barber, McKim Mead & White, James Renwick Jr., Wm. A Bates,
Wm. Morris Hunt and the international prize winning William Lescaze.
Kathy Norris, President of Tuxedo Park Estates,
who is the leader in real estate sales in Tuxedo Park real estate, believes the
unparalleled security, natural beauty and spectacular architecture of Tuxedo
Park promise a unique and extraordinary life style comparable to none.