Whether you’re a local history buff or just an average Scarsdalian curious about the history that surrounds you, the Scarsdale Historical Society has created a film that will answer any questions you may have ever had about the village’s northernmost neighborhood.
“Greenacres Tales: Building a Scarsdale Neighborhood” was shown to the public in two screenings Wednesday, March 15 at the Scarsdale Public Library. It’s the fourth installment in the historical society’s series of documentaries on the five neighborhoods of the Scarsdale we know today. The films are available to watch online at https://www.scarsdalehistoricalsociety.org/.
The Greenacres documentary tells the story of a neighborhood that almost wasn’t part of Scarsdale — at one time, White Plains had plans to annex what is now the northern end of the village of Scarsdale.
“Scarsdale fought back,” film director Lesley Topping said. “You know, they had an identity as an ancient town, and there was no way they were going to be taken over by White Plains.”
Jordan Copeland, associate historian at the Scarsdale Historical Society and a narrator in the film, provided more information on the topic.
Prior to Fox Meadow’s development, that neighborhood was an open estate that separated Greenacres from the rest of Scarsdale.
“The identity of many Greenacres people was much more oriented toward White Plains or Hartsdale, because if you’re taking the train you’re going from Hartsdale anyway,” Copeland said. “So in some parallel universe, Greenacres was successfuly annexed by White Plains and would be a part of White Plains.”
But that was not to be.
That annexation attempt was the impetus for Scarsdale’s incorporation as a village in 1915. Up until then, it had only been a town — and thus its borders could be changed by an act of the state legislature.
As a village, Scarsdale had agency to prevent itself from being taken over by White Plains. To this day, Scarsdale remains a town and a village, the two once-separate entities having been combined in 1930.
Another topic the documentary touches on is Scarsdale’s efforts over the years to maintain itself as an environment of primarily single-family homes. This is a story that is preserved in the history of the village’s parks, according to Topping.
“The story of the parks is interesting, because in a lot of ways the parks were created in order to not have any development,” Topping said.
Copeland said he finds some of the small historical details fascinating, and mentioned some of them in the film.
“One of my favorite things that we talked about in the film was — and maybe everybody else doesn’t find it as exciting,” he joked, “is, there’s a wall on Farley Road, an old stone wall that separates Scarsdale from White Plains. And that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years, it used to separate two farms that were there on either side of the Scarsdale-White Plains border. So that wall has been there for centuries and it’s really really cool and if you go out and look at it, it’s still there.”
The documentary also discusses some of the ugliness of Scarsdale’s history.
“We talk about the Scarsdale Golf Club, [which] at one time didn’t admit Jews,” Topping said. “That was very controversial at one point up until the ’80s. And since then, it’s changed, it has a very diverse membership. But that was a controversy at one point.”
Topping, though the director of Greenacres Tales, was quick to duck taking full credit. The documentary, along with the other neighborhood films, was really a team effort.
She credited former Scarsdale historian Barbara MacDonald with encouraging her to start the neighborhood series, and said the rest of the Scarsdale Historical Society, the crew and those interviewed in the film were crucial to its success.
“It’s a collaboration with the historians and the people in the crew,” she said.
The screenings of the film will be at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at the Scarsdale Public Library.
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