Fifty-plus years ago there was no Rye City Hall, only a gas station on that side of the Village Green. Most city departments except police and fire were run out of the Square House. To say that our venerable 18th century treasure was under strain would be a huge understatement.
The city council also met at the Square House in those days. Seated at the council table with the mayor and six members was Rye’s elected supervisor, a member of the County Board of Supervisors. There were no county legis-lators then.
In those days, there were more small or medium-sized homes in Rye than there are today; so many of them have been torn down to make room for much larger homes. One house to be built is supposed to have at least 10 family bedrooms, according to its drawings.
Where there is now a short street called Forest Cove, there used to be vacant land known as the Ford Estate. Marble Hall, a ladies’ spa, stood behind the high brick wall that still bars passers-by from peering into the homes that replaced the hall. There was no Martin Butler Court then, since Marty was still living.
Marty Butler’s brother Tom and I were the first people elected to the city council on the Democratic ticket. The only problem I recall us having was when the mayor declared that some of our cost-saving proposals were nothing but “cheese-paring.” Since then, other Democrats have been elected to the council and to the mayor’s office.
The office of city manager has gone through many twists and turns in the past 50-plus years. Continuity has been provided as needed by the presence in town of former City Manager Frank Culross. We hope the newly installed manager will have a productive and satisfying experi-ence here.
Fifty-plus years ago, there was no Rye Marina, only an island called Sedge, added to over many decades by silt flowing down Blind Brook from points upstream. The island had to be dredged out to make way for the present floats and piles. On the shore where Milton Harbor House now stands, there was the William Edgar John Shipyard, where craft for the Navy had been built during World War II.
Fifty-plus years ago, there was no official observance of the Fourth of July like there is today. Labor Day was well-observed with the traditional William H. Ball Memorial Field Day, held from the 1920s until the late 1970s. Now there is Summerfest, run by Leaders of Tomorrow, to provide “fun for kids of all ages.”