I imagine many of those reading this will be familiar with the name “Chilmark” but I wonder how many know where it comes from.
Chilmark was the name of the UK village that was the ancestral home of Thomas Macy, born in 1608 and the first of the family to arrive on our shores. As was often the case when estates were acquired in America, Valentine Everit Macy gave the name “Chilmark” to the property he and his wife Edith purchased in 1896, and to the 44-room mansion in Briarcliff Manor they completed in 1898, soon after the birth of the first of their three children.
Everit Macy (1871-1930), a distant relative of the department store Macys, earned a degree in 1893 from Columbia’s School of Architecture. He never practiced professionally, but instead held the positions of commissioner of Charities and Correction, then of Public Welfare, and at the time of his death commissioner of parks. As parks commissioner he was an organizing force behind the Hutchinson and Saw Mill river parkways.
Everit Macy died at age 59 of pneumonia. In 1932 Westchester County named a 200-acre tract in the Town of Greenburgh V. Everit Macy Park in his honor.
Edith Macy was a social activist, suffragist, chair of the Girl Scouts of the USA National Board of Directors and namesake of the Girl Scout property, the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor.
She joined King’s Daughters, which aimed to work with New York’s poor; assisted the Henry Street settlement in New York City by supplying them with milk from her home in Ossining; helped form the Westchester County Children’s Association, where she served as the vice president for destitute and neglected children; and established a Thrift Campaign in Westchester County during World War I.
She was named to the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA in 1918 and in 1919 became chairman of the board and served until her death in 1925. Throughout her years with Girl Scouts, Macy dreamed of a school that could provide leadership training for women. Her husband donated land in Briarcliff Manor to the Girl Scouts of the USA, to be used as a national training school in memory of his wife. It is still a Girl Scout-owned property today with a conference center, historic buildings, and acres of land.
She was also a suffragist and served as the director of the League of Women Voters for the Westchester County Region.
The Macys’ property eventually amounted to some 300 acres. The old gate house still stands at the corner of Holbrook and Scarborough roads. The mansion was surrounded by lawns planted with shade trees and shrubbery, meadows and woodlands. Stone barns housed Guernsey cows, and Hampshire Down sheep. There was a greenhouse for the gardens, a carriage house with apartments over it for the help, a chicken house, a stable, polo field, squash courts, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course.
The author is a Briarcliff Manor-Scarborough Historical Society volunteer.