CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Residents can trace the town’s origins from Native American lands through the farms of the 19th century to the large estates and housing developments of today at the New Castle Historical Society's newest exhibit.
The exhibit, “New Castle’s Beginnings: Our Founding Farms,” opened Tuesday and will run through the remainder of the year at the Historical Society, located at 100 King St.
“My favorite thing about this exhibit is simply discovering how Chappaqua came to be,” said Toni Hutin, curator of the exhibit. “To trace the history from the Indians through the farmers we have today is very interesting.”
The exhibit will will focus on Sutton Farm, Dodge Farm, Brann Farm, Taylor and Annandale Farms, and, of course, the Greeley Farm.
“I think people will be most surprised to find out the connection of our street names to these original farmlands,” said Hutin.
Residents will enjoy seeing how today’s lands used to look, New Castle Historical Society Program Coordinator Susan Blumenfield said.
“The exhibit is an opportunity for children and families to see early farm tools and locate farm neighborhoods that are familiar,” she said.
Visitors will learn how founding farms were established on large tracts of land purchased from Native Americans. Many Native American words found their way into the names of New Castle streets and landmarks — including the Hamlet of Chappaqua and its name, which derives from the word Shepequa, which referred to the abundant water resources that made farming possible.
As New Castle contemplates town-altering projects such as Chappaqua Station, Chappaqua Crossing and Chuck Napoli’s Hamlet revitalization plan, it is an intriguing time to look back on how everything started, she said.
“It is very fascinating,” said Hutin. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do all of the farms. We don’t know where some were. But for someone to see their home in a known farm gives an interesting history of your location.”
The exhibit will hold an opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the New Castle Historical Society. Regular hours for the exhibit and the museum are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays or by appointment at 914-238-4666.