Our History: a look back through four decades

In 1952, when Mayor John Riegel issued a proclamation to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Briarcliff Manor’s incorporation, a committee was formed to plan and operate an appropriate three-day celebration. It was their idea to collect the first permanent record of local history, which was published as “Our Village: Briarcliff Manor 1902 to 1952.”

2011-2012 BoardThe 2011-12 Briarcliff Manor-Scarborough Historical Society Officers and Board

In 1974, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary, another committee was formed to create a more expanded celebration. This committee of 12 involved and enthusiastic residents met on April 10, 1974, for the express purpose of forming an official historical society. The Briarcliff Manor/Scarborough Historical Society became a reality just two months later. The second village history, “A Village Between Two Rivers: Briarcliff Manor” –- spearheaded by the same group of devoted citizens-- was published in 1977.

The Society’s first headquarters was in The Briarcliff Middle School section of the old High School. It was subsequently moved to the second floor of Weber-Tufts Realty on Pleasantville Road. When the old Middle School was turned over to Pace University, the Society moved into a large classroom provided by the university.

In 1997, when these former school buildings were razed to make way for senior citizen housing, the Society's collections and files were put into storage. They remained there until 2009, when the Village arranged to lease storage space on the lower level of the expanded Briarcliff Library to the Society. With the community's great help in raising funds, a handsome new home was constructed here, and dedicated as The Eileen O'Connor Weber Historical Center in March of 2010. This well-equipped headquarters will enable the Society to continue its devotion to documenting and communicating the history of Briarcliff Manor and Scarborough in the years ahead.

A larger, more detailed area history, “The Changing Landscape” by Mary Cheever was published in 1990, and is still in print today. The Society has also provided a number of special events over the years and was active in helping organize and run several of the events during the village’s 2002 Bicentennial Year Celebration.

Over the years, Society-sponsored events have included historical tours of homes and churches, yearly bus tours

commanderOver the years, a wide variety of Society events has included cruises on the Hudson using historically notable boats like the Commander, built in 1917 and listed on both National and State Registers of Historic Places

of the community, cruises on the Hudson, square dances and formal dances, antique car exhibits, day trips to historic points of interest such as Ellis Island, galas to celebrate the contribution of local citizens, art exhibits and special events with well-known authors and political figures, to name a few. One of the most exciting recent events was the October 2008 Centennial Celebration of the 1908 Briarcliff Road Race, in cooperation with the Ossining Historical Society and the Village.

weber_austinEileen Weber -- Miss Briarcliff -- here with former Mayor Keith Austin, is feted at the Society's 2006 Gala in her honor at Ashridge Estate in Scarborough

Finally with a permanent, visible museum and home base, the Society has increased vigor in functioning as a dedicated collector, preserver and disseminator of local history. Monthly Board meetings are held here and the housewarming and dedication of the space on March 21st, 2010 was a heralded and very well attended community event. More special events are planned for the space and regular hours will allow citizens to research and discuss here, as well as read and socialize. It is expected that the Society's home will become a valued cultural center for the community.

Three of the original members of the Society are on our board today: Bill Sharman, Tom Vincent and Eileen Weber. Continuity is important in everything, and particularly throughout our history. They help provide it. If you’re interested in our history and would like to consider board membership, we’d be happy to meet with you and talk about it.

We’re delighted so many members have joined the Society, and issue an open invitation herewith for all residents to join us as we write the next chapter in the grand history of this wonderful village together!