Tuxedo Park History

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Tuxedo Park History

In the fall of 1885, Gilded age architect Bruce Price, along with Pierre Lorillard, who owned more than 6,000 Orange County acres, took a train from New York City and got off at the Lorillard family stop on the Erie Railroad. Despite the terrible rainy weather, in one afternoon they planned what is now known as Tuxedo Park. Within weeks of their visit, 1,800 men started working to make their vision a reality. Within eight months, thirty miles of graded roads were complete, in addition to a water and sewage system (the first complete one in the world), the Park gatehouse and police station, twenty-two cottages, two blocks of stores, the village stables, a new dam, an icehouse, a swimming tank and a fish hatchery. 

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Tuxedo Park’s 1886 opening day featured three special trains with 700 guests. The run was supposed to take an hour and a half, but the exuberant engineers made it in forty minutes, to the alarm of the passengers, many of whom were so frightened by the way the rickety old coaches careened on the narrow-gauge track that they refused to return until the engineers had promised to go at the slow normal rate. The passengers were met by coaches and wagons painted brightly in the Tuxedo colors of yellow and green, and greeted by gamekeepers adorned in green and yellow and wearing Tyrolean hats.

The driver of the wagon protested that the road was too rough. Shrugging, Mr. Lorillard took the reins himself. An hour later, after three miles of boulders and thickets through which the wagon barely squeezed, they reached the top of the winding ascent and halted on a ridge overlooking a lake.

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Before Tuxedo Park’s inception, the Tuxedo lake swarmed with black bass, which had gradually accumulated through the years. When fishing became a daily practice, the bass rapidly became scarce. To supplement them, in 1886 the hatchery began its years of experiments with landlocked salmon, bass fry, steelhead and brook trout for the Tuxedo Lake, the Wee-Wah and the Warwick Brook. The fish hatchery is no longer operating, but the lakes are still stocked annually in the Spring, with ice fishing when the Wee-Wah lake freezes.

 

Boating on the lake provides one of the more attractive features of the summer life at Tuxedo. Canoes have in recent years largely been supplanted by electric launches, although there has been a recent resurgence of a fleet of Adirondack guide boats. Other summer sports popular earlier on were summer horse racing, for which a half-mile trotting track was built. The grounds were then used for football, polo, the annual horse shows, dog shows and the Fourth of July celebration. It is currently a community park with walking trails. 

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Since its founding, Tuxedo Park has been centered around sports. In the winter, there was snowshoeing on nearby trails, a Cresta Run copied after the original in St. Moritz, ice boating, skating and curling on the lake. In recent years, cross-country skiing has taken the place of snowshoeing, with the other winter sports, except for skating, being replaced with court tennis, platform tennis, racquets and squash. Lawn tennis has always been very popular in Tuxedo, and the club's tennis courts were among America’s first. Tuxedo pioneered court tennis, also known as “real tennis”, in this country. Due chiefly to the energy of T. Suffern Tailer and his friend the Hon. Cecil Baring, a court was built and opened on December 30, 1899. The building was one of the first commissions for Warren and Wetmore, architects of Grand Central Station. On February 2, 1902, racquets was introduced to Tuxedo - the same year that the first annual Gold Racquets Championship was held.

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In 1889, a six-hole golf course was laid out on what are now the Tuxedo Park School grounds. By 1892 the sport had become so popular that a nine-hole course was laid out near the old North Gate of the Park. The old caddie shack remains in ruins to this day. An eighteen-hole course was completed shortly thereafter, which straddled both sides of Route 17. The country’s first interclub golf team match was a four-way contest held at Tuxedo in 1894. The teams were The Country Club (Brookline, MA), St. Andrew’s, Shinecock and The Tuxedo Club. The trophy presented that year to The Country Club was donated to the U.S.G.A and is now the Senior Open trophy. 

 

Tuxedo Park has a diverse and welcoming population of 650 residents. The transportation system continues to improve every year, with train connections to Penn Station, Newark Airport, and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Busses also leave from Route 17 for Midtown Manhattan on a regular basis. The Village of Tuxedo Park boasts its own DPW and a police force which monitors its 24 hour gate, along with many thriving institutions, from the Tuxedo Union Free School District (pre K - 12), to the Wee Wah Park (open to all residents) to the Village Boat Club (open to all property owners) to the Tuxedo Park Garden Club (consisting of men and women) to the Tuxedo Park School (pre K3 - 9) to the (private) Tuxedo Club, which has the most racket sports of any club in the world, in addition to a world class eighteen hole Robert Trent Jones golf course.

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Tuxedo Park currently has approximately three hundred magnificent homes plus several vacant lots. The homes range from ranch to Cape Cod to Tudor Colonial and Victorian plus everything in between. All are welcome in Tuxedo Park, and we at Tuxedo Park Fine Homes would be honored to introduce you to the community.