Eastchester Town Clerk Linda Doherty, left, Bronxville Historian Eloise Morgan and Robert Riggs. Contributed photo

Villages join town in 350th anniversary celebration

The Town of Eastchester, including the villages of Tuckahoe and Bronxville, is having a birthday party—a year long one.

Kicking off in January 2014 and continuing throughout the year, Eastchester’s 350th anniversary will roll out lectures, educational programs for all students, a gala, a community day, a super-size exhibit and a richly illustrated history book. Residents and community organizations are invited to participate, to support the celebration with contributions and to volunteer their own family and institutional memories.

Eastchester Town Clerk Linda Doherty, left, Bronxville Historian Eloise Morgan and Robert Riggs. Contributed photo

Eastchester Town Clerk Linda Doherty, left, Bronxville Historian Eloise Morgan and Robert Riggs. Contributed photo

For over two years, a steering committee, comprised of volunteers appointed by the three communities, has been developing varied programs for the anniversary of the town’s founding in 1664. As co-chairs Linda Doherty and Robert Riggs emphasized, Eastchester’s 350th celebration aims to offer first-time ever programs with a strong emphasis on revealing the town’s special history not understood by many.

Throughout the 2013-2014 school year, students in all three districts, as well as private and parochial schools, will be challenged to discover their local history and to produce research essays and projects across the creative spectrum. To start the new year, the three public libraries will promote a townwide reading and discussion of 97 Orchard, a book focused on the social history of our immigrant past.  Later in the spring, a gala party will be held at Siwanoy Country Club and a community fun-filled day at Lake Isle will lead up to the June 24, 2014 “birthday” date.  A large-scale exhibit of town residents’ legacies and structural landmarks will be displayed at Concordia College’s OSilas Gallery in the fall.  The year will conclude with the publication of a first-ever volume—a hard-cover, well-researched and richly illustrated history entitled “Out of the Wilderness: The Emergence of Eastchester, Tuckahoe and Bronxville, 1664-2014.”

As Riggs said, “Eastchester represents a microcosm of the country’s development from a colonial farming settlement to immigrants arriving to work the famed marble quarries and, then, to an increasingly suburban community as the railroads pushed northward. Its citizens have experienced all of the country’s history—economic successes and struggles, population growth, times of war and peace. Indeed, the Revolutionary War was fought on its soil. This is super local American history.”

If the steering committee for the 350th Anniversary Celebration, Inc. has its way, current residents will end the year with a greater understanding of this heritage and, hopefully, an appreciation of their own roots in town.

A website will soon be launched that will unveil the treasure trove of Eastchester’s original founding documents, vintage and modern photographs and other images, such as maps, etchings, paintings, etc.  It will invite contributions of family memories and organizational histories.

According to Town Clerk Linda Doherty, “This celebration is a link to the efforts of prior generations to preserve and make accessible our historical records. In 1964, at the time of the 300th anniversary, Eastchester Historical Society volunteers Harriet Bianchi and Phyllis Knowles, presented the town with 10 volumes of transcriptions of the earliest 17th and 18th century recordings of the community’s founders. Because of these ladies, we are now able to present clear evidence on our website and in print version that Eastchester was a participant in our nation’s founding, that some very unique people have lived here and that 2014 will be a special celebratory year.”

In addition to Doherty and Riggs, the steering committee is comprised of Patty Dohrenwend, Joe Dooley, Mike Fix, Annmarie Flannery, Dick Forliano, Sheila Marcotte, Eloise Morgan, Les Vaccaro, Nancy Vittorini, Robert Wein and Phil White. This small group has been supported by a growing network of over three dozen town volunteers. Both long-term residents and newcomers are serving on various committees. All residents are welcome to assist with the various projects and programs and lend their special talents and input; all local organizations are encouraged to keep the town’s birthday in mind when planning their own events.

Residents may contact individual steering committee members or email Eastchester350@eastchester.org.

Contributions to Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. are tax deductible, since the group is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Checks may be mailed to Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc., 40 Mill Road., Eastchester, NY 10709. (Submitted)