Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York

former Unification Church Property

39.0 acres

Passive recreation and trails. Conservation easement placed on 25 acres of adjacent Belvedere property by Scenic Hudson. Managed by Historic Hudson Valley and National Trust for Historic Preservation.


From Hastings-on-Hudson, I drove north on Broadway (Route 9).  From the intersection of Broadway and Main Street in Hastings, it is about four miles to Sunnyside Lane (just after green mileage marker 20 51).  Turn left onto Sunnyside Lane.  You will pass by the Croton Aqueduct Trail.  Since there is no parking on Sunnyside Lane, turn left onto narrow Fargo Lane and park opposite the driveway of house #98 or somewhere in the vicinity. 


August 2000:

A larger portion of the South End in Tarrytown, owned by the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, will be sold to Westchester County and operated as a "greenway" between Lyndhurst, a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Sunnyside, a property of Historic Hudson Valley. A conservation easement will also be placed on the Belvedere Estate, adjacent to Lyndhurst, and also owned by the Holy Spirit Association, to protect it from future development.

The property to be operated as a "greenway" includes all of the Spratt Estate, and all of the Wolfert’s Dell/Veruselle Estate, of which half is already owned by Historic Hudson Valley, and all of the Willowbrook Estate (not to be confused with the adjacent Shadowbrook estate, the former residence of the late jazz musician Stan Getz).

Three Mansions on the property:

I. The Spratt House

It was one of many fine mansions along the banks of the Hudson River in Tarrytown. The house stood in one of the densest concentrations of great estates in the Valley, surrounded by some very famous neighbors. The mansion was part of the setting for the television series Dark Shadows and is known to fans of DS as The Old House.

Lyndhurst, adjacent to the Spratt Estate in Tarrytown, was used as the New House, "Collinwood," in several of the Dark Shadows movies.

The house is named for William Spratt, Jr., who lived there in the 1930's. Previous owners of the estate include Henry Holdredge (circa 1870's), Howard Jaffray (nephew of E.S. Jaffray, who resided at nearby Willowbrook, c. 1880's), and Helen J. Banker (c. 1900).

Another resident of the Spratt Estate was Raymond C. Schindler (1882-1959). He was one of America's most noted detectives. He got his start working for the William J. Burns Agency in 1909 and a few years later started the Schindler Bureau of Investigation, which may have been in operation as late as the 1960s. In 1950, a book was written about him and his fascinating cases titled "The Complete Detective." "Who Was Who in America" (Vol. III 1951-1960) gives a short bio of Schindler and lists his (final) home as the Spratt Estate, Tarrytown, NY. 

The house burned down in 1969, the cause of the fire being arson. The house had been abandoned for some years, and was owned for a while by the Duchess of Tallyrand, who also owned Lyndhurst. In the 1970's the estate was owned by Robert Martin Corp., along with parts of the Wolfert's Dell estate and all of the Willowbrook estate. There were plans to build condominiums on those properties, but they were never built. I don't know exactly when the house was completely demolished. The only things that remain of the old estate are the main road that runs through, and a small fountain pool can be seen just south of where the house stood. The foundation of the carriage house is extant, and one can walk in it's basement. 


II. The Willowbrook Estate

Adjacent to Washington Irving’s Sunnyside east border, includes foundations of several buildings, such as the ruins of the greenhouse/gardener’s cottage.

The estate is one of the oldest in the area, dating back to the first house built there in 1815.

The house was doubled in size by former New York City Mayor Ambrose C. Kingsland, who later built a mansion at what is now Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow.

A later owner was Edward S. Jaffray.  Wholesale dry-goods house, E. S. Jaffray and Co. of New York. Drygood store owned and operated by Edward Somerville Jaffray located at 350 Broadway, in NYC between about 1855 and 1900.

It was Jaffray who tried to dam the Sunnyside Brook for his own plumbing system, much to the consternation of Washington Irving and a flock of ducks who lived in his pond. The house was most likely razed in the 1960s/1970s.

There is a bridge across Sunnyside Brook and steps leading up to the Willowbrook estate. Sunnyside Brook runs adjacent to West Sunnyside Lane and marks the Tarrytown/Irvington Boundary. Irvingtonians were upset when Tarrytown incorporated the South End, stealing Sunnyside away from them. Many postcards and photographs, even in the early 1900s, erroneously labeled Sunnyside or nearby Lyndhurst as being in Irvington.

Ambrose C. Kingsland

For many years, despite the desperate need for open space, city governments were reluctant to release large tract of land for mere recreational uses; however, several prominent individuals championed the cause of public parks. Of those individuals, the most forceful were Andrew Jackson Downing, William Cullen Bryant and Ambrose C. Kingsland (1804-1878).

Upon taking office in January, 1851, the Whig Mayor Ambrose C. Kingsland recommended that the Common Council appropriate funds to purchase a large park. Two years later, the site was selected, and the acquisition of Central Park began.

By 1850 such was the interest aroused that the question of the city having a proper park was a campaign issue in the mayoralty election of that year. In 1851 the city's Common Council, on the proposal of Mayor Ambrose C. Kingsland, voted for one. Not until 1853 did the municipality obtain authority from the State Legislature to buy the land for "the Central Park" between Fifth and Eighth Avenues from 59th to 106th Streets. (In 1859 it was extended to 110th Street, and the park attained its present size of 843 acres.)

After landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing appealed for a park, the idea caught on, and both mayoralty contestants made it a promise in the 1850 campaign. The winner, Ambrose C. Kingsland, kept his word, and the Common Council took action. 1804-l878 Whig

Washington Irving lived in it before he built Sunnyside.

(Source: Robert Yasinac:


Remembrances of Grandfather Jaffray and Washington Irving:

The granddaughter of E. S. Jaffray, Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, wrote her memoirs. Washington Irving wrote a very cute poem to her Aunt Florence Jaffray about the damming of Indian Brook by Grandfather Jaffray and, in reply,  her aunt send Washington Irving  a poem (most probably composed by her grandfather).

Willowbrook must have been very lovely in the days before I was born, with its flat colonial roof nestling down on the simple two-story building. It was a very old house. Washington Irving lived in it before he built Sunnyside on an adjoining estate.

Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s estate, joined ours by the western meadow, and when my mother and her sister were little girls, he made great neighbors of them. My Aunt Florence treasured greatly some verses called, The Lay of the Sunnyside Ducks humbly dedicated to Miss Florence Jaffray, which Irving wrote and sent her.

Grandfather and Mr. Irving behaved to each other like affectionate schoolboys, and it was a family joke on either side of the boundary line that when one had been to call on the other in the evening they were certain to walk back and forth half a dozen times seeing each other part of the way home. In the last days of his life, when Irving was growing feeble, he used to bring his chair and sit under a tree, near enough to our house to hear our family songs. Ballads and hymns of all sorts floated on the twilight air, and I daresay he occasionally caught fragments of grandfather’s harangues about the uneven quality of the hymns.

I don’t believe father ever connected his own adventures in the Civil War with grandfather’s bitterer experiences in the draft riots, when a negro was hung to the lamp-post in front of his own house, and he had to save all the colored servants by sending a member of his firm to drive them in a covered wagon across to safer Williamsburg.


III. The Belvedere mansion.

This house is adjacent to Lyndhurst, east of the Old Croton Aqueduct. It may have been built as early as the 1910s by a Florence and Casper Whitney. In 1928 Dr. Philip Cole bought the estate that was then called "Zeeview." Belvedere comprises two former estates, whose mansions are long since demolished. One of the Bronfmans of the Seagrams Whiskey family owned Belvedere from 1960-1972, before selling to the Unification Church.

Casper Whitney

1889 – Walter Camp, who played for Yale, and sportswriter Casper Whitney began picking an annual all-American football team.

1900 – Casper Whitney left Harper's Weekly to become editor of Outing Magazine in 1900.

1902 – he published the top twenty college baseball teams in the nation.

Whitney gave a summary of the college baseball season almost every season until 1916.

Philip Gillette Cole

Cole spent his early youth in Montana. He had an American Western art collection.

1883 – he was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, the oldest child of Dr. Charles Knox Cole, a native New Yorker, and his wife Harriet Gillette, of Illinois. The Coles settled in Montana.

1888-89 session – his father became speaker of the Montana Territorial Senate, the last before Montana entered the union as the forty-first state in 1889. He built the Helena Hotel, later trading it for other properties, and rumor had it that he also inherited some apartment properties in New York City.

1900 – his father returned to New York a successful businessman. There he invested in a small company founded by a German immigrant inventor named George Schrader, who had developed what came to be known as the bicycle tire valve. Schrader's invention was adapted for automobile tires just as the automotive industry was beginning mass production, proving C.K.'s investment providential. He was soon to become sole owner of the company, a development that launched him on a second career and brought immense wealth to the family.

1902 – Philip Cole graduated from Phillips Andover Academy.*

1906 – he graduated from Princeton.

1910 – he completed his medical studies at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He did post-graduate work at Bellevue and Harlem Hospitals. He interned as house surgeon at the Harlem hospital, specializing in gynecology, and was greatly respected and appreciated for the work he did there.

Toward the beginning of the First World War – the hospital community gave him a testimonial farewell dinner upon his departure for Helena, Montana.

World War I – served in France as a reserve officer during the war.

armistice of 1918 – he returned to Helena, where he met and married Katherine Pyle, the daughter of a prominent Montana family and a talented sculptor in her own right.

end of the war – he moved back to New York and took over the firm of his father, then the principal owner of A. Schrader & Son Inc. of Brooklyn, New York. Since he could not live on a farm in his beloved Montana, he transformed his homes in the East to reflect western themes and filled them with the art of the West.

1928 – Cole purchased the former Whitney estate and home, Zeeview, which included twenty acres of land at Tarrytown, New York.

1929 – the family moved in to the manor house at Zeeview, which sat on top of the brow of a bluff overlooking the broad Tappan Zee portion of the Hudson River. Zeeview became Cole's own private museum.

1941 – Cole was fifty-seven when he died of a massive stroke. His art collection went to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

(Source: J. Brooks Joyner. "Gilcrease Museum and the American Western Collection of Dr. Philip Gillette Cole."


Samuel Bronfman (1889-1971)

1889 – born to Jewish refugees from czarist Russia who fled to Canada.

1924 – formed Distillers Corp, Montreal, Canada.

American prohibition – sold liquor to American bootleggers; acquired Joseph Seagram & Sons of Waterloo, Ontario.

While living in Montreal, he had a summer place in Tarrytown, New York.


The Croton Aqueduct Trail goes through the area between Sunnyside and Lyndhurst. 

6/11/04. Park on Fargo Lane and walk back up Sunnyside Lane to the Croton Aqueduct Trail.  The brook flows on the northern side of Sunnyside Lane. Go off trail.  Find a humongous Norway spruce tree.  Come to a gate and an asphalt road (part of the Sunnyside estate).  Walk back to Sunnyside Lane and find a small waterfall.  Come across a huge copper beech tree.  Return to the Croton Aqueduct Trail. 

Go off trail again on to an abandoned asphalt road and an informal trail.  Find a large collection of what appears to be abandoned and decayed crates filled with marble slabs.  Kept heading down the path and find an abandoned small basement area and then abandoned short walls and burned large wood beams.  Walk around the area and find that the area where the marble slabs are stored is an artificially flat piece of ground.  There is a pond on one side of the flat land; it is fenced off. 

Come to another fenced in area. Attached to the trunk of a tree is a small green hunting chair.  There is a hole in the fence.  (Later I would return here while making what turns out to be a circular walk.)

Return to the abandoned asphalt road and continue north.  Follow another trail going off into the woods.  It goes all the way to a cliff overlooking the railway tracks and the Hudson River.  The trail parallels the Hudson River heading south.  Come across another huge copper beech tree.

I come to a fence again.  I think it is part of the fence I saw earlier.  I follow the fence.  I come across an old abandoned concrete fountain pool with a center piece (as seen on Robert Yasinac's website).  Still following the fence line, sure enough I come out to the place with the old green hunting chair hung up on the tree.  So I finish the now circular walk.  Come across the pond I saw earlier.  Find a humongous tulip tree.

I get back onto the Croton Aqueduct Trail. Pass by air tower #15.  Soon after I come to Lyndhurst.  This section of the Croton Aqueduct Trail is very short, but the hike was made much longer by following the informal trails off into the woods.  --  Patrick Cooney

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
*=  date plant found in bloom, 6/11/04

Acer negundo (ash leaf maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer pseudoplatanoides (sycamore maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple)
Acer saccharinum (silver maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) lots
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree) ?
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fagus sylvestris (copper beech)
Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Paulownia tomentosa (princess tree)
Phellodendron amurense (Amur cork tree)
Picea abies (Norway spruce)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)

Acanthopanax sieboldianus (five fingered aralia)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Ligustrum sp. (privet) *
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Pachysandra terminalis (pachysandra)
Philadelphus sp. (mock orange)  *
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose) *
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Viburnum plicatum (double-file viburnum)
Viburnum sieboldii (Siebold's viburnum)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)

Akebia quinata (akebia)
Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (porcelain berry)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) *
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax rotundifolia (round-leaved greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vincetoxicum nigrum (black swallowwort) *
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Aegopodium podagraria (goutweed)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) *
Allium vineale (field garlic; onion grass)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)
Anthriscus sylvestris (wild chervil)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) * soon
Cardamine impatiens (narrow-leaved bittercress)
Chelidonium majus (celandine) *
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) * soon
Commelina communis (Asiatic dayflower)
Cryptotaenia canadensis (honewort) *
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Erigeron philadelphicus (common fleabane) *
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground) *
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed)
Lapsana communis (nipplewort) *
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) *
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) *
Plantago major (common plantain)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) *
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum virginianum (jumpseed)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Taraxacum officinale (dandelion) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover) *
Trifolium repens (white clover)
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) *
Urtica dioica var. procera (tall nettle) *
Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)

Bromus inermis (smooth brome grass)
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Holcus lanatus (velvet grass)
Lolium perenne var. perenne (perennial ryegrass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)