AHS Browns General Store

Brown’s General Store, pictured here in 1897, was located inside Ardsley Square

Walking tours and a community celebration will mark the Village of Ardsley’s 125th anniversary this fall.

The tours, by reservation, are scheduled for the weekends of Sept. 18-19 and Sept. 25-26. On Oct. 10, the entire community is invited to Louis Pascone Memorial Park on Ashford Avenue for a 5-hour party culminating in fireworks at 7 p.m.

Ardsley Historical Society president Peter Marcus and village historian Robert Pellegrino will lead the free walking tours. Participants will share vintage photographs of local landmarks, as well as distinctive establishments that vanished over the past decades.

Each tour, wheelchair accessible, is limited to 12 people (the Sept. 18 tour is already booked), and consists of a 60-to-75-minute walk — “depending upon the number of questions people ask,” the historical society’s website notes — mainly along Ashford Avenue, beginning at the firehouse. To register, visit ardsleyhistoricalsociety.org and click on events, and then programs.  

What are now the firehouse, village hall, library, and post office have shuffled locations for more than a century, according to Marcus. He noted that in the 1800s, a schoolhouse occupied the present firehouse site; through World War II, when the library donated all its books, there was no library service for years; in 1985, the Ashford Avenue School was converted to the Ashford Court Condominiums.

He also revealed that Ardsley had its own train station, roughly where the Ashford Avenue Bridge is now. Passersby on the South County Trail can see what remains of the New York Central Railroad Putnam Division tracks. 

The current Carvel ice cream outpost on Saw Mill River Road (Route 9A) stands at what was once a commercial hub of sorts: the Ardsley Lyceum, site of major meetings and events, stood between Silliman Park and the former Chase bank building on Ashford Avenue; a blacksmith and livery shop operated along Saw Mill River Road, directly across from Carvel; and two of Ardsley’s three pickle factories were in that area (the third was behind Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on King Street).

“Ardsley was one of the major suppliers of pickles to the Union Army during the Civil War,” Marcus said with a hint of amusement. He has no idea why pickles were so popular, but thinks that Ardsley’s soil must have been conducive to growing cucumbers.

The walk will include an exploration of Addyman Square, initially called Ardsley Square, which still boasts circa 1800s buildings.

Though participants won’t be able to bring home the period photos, they can delve into books such as “Pictures of the Past,” by Fred and Patricia Arone. Some of its images can be viewed on the historical society’s website, along with “A Short Informal History of Ardsley, NY,” Arthur Silliman’s three digitized volumes. The website itself is crammed with photos, newspaper articles, and its redesigned bi-annual newsletter, The Beacon. An appointment is necessary to explore the historical society’s archives, which are stored at the Ardsley Public Library; call 914-393-3222. 

The Oct. 10 festivities, 2-7 p.m., have been organized by planning committee members Barbara D’Angelo, Rosemarie Marcus, Syed Saboor, student representative Luke Farberman, Garden Club president Linda Keil, fire department member PJ Murray, police department Youth Officer Tony Vacca, Recreation Department Supervisor Trish Lacey, and Pellegrino. Led by Village Trustee Joann D’Emilio, the planning committee put together what D’Emilio calls “a fun party. We’re very excited about it. We think it’s going to be a great time. We encourage everybody to come out.”

Earlier this year, the Village held a contest for students to design a flag representing Ardsley pride. Farberman, a rising junior, was the high school winner; there were three winners from the other schools. 

“We’d like to do some sort of opening ceremony to honor the flag contest winners, and in honor of the celebration,” D’Emilio said. “We’re putting the flag winners’ designs on notecards and on labels for bubble bottles, on items to sell or give away. We’re hoping to get frisbees.”

For entertainment there will be two bands, a Bubble Truck, and Touch-A-Truck. The Bubble Truck, sponsored by the Friends of the Ardsley Public Library, will disgorge clouds of suds. For Touch-A-Truck, D’Emilio said, “We have different vehicles brought in: an ambulance, firetruck, DPW truck; kids can go in, look around inside, touch things — but not set off the alarm. They actually get to stand in the truck, and talk to the guys who drive it.”

Another anniversary highlight, still in the making, will be podcasts. Farberman and Saboor are interviewing people with different views of Ardsley. “Some have longstanding multigenerational roots, other groups have particular importance,” D’Emilio said. “We’ll make those available; we hope to put a link on the Village website.” D’Emilio noted, with a touch of humor, “We have till January 2022. That’s the actual anniversary.” The committee expects to have some podcasts ready by the end of this year.

Community members interested in volunteering for the celebration can email D’Emilio at JDEmilio@ArdsleyVillage.com.

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