Q: I just moved to the area, and I found out that one of my absolute favorite TV shows from my childhood, Dark Shadows, was filmed here, or at least some of it was. I’ve heard Lyndhurst Mansion was used as Collinwood Mansion, but some say it was a place in Connecticut. Can you help me out?
—Mia Battaglia, Bronxville
A: Ahh, Dark Shadows! A groundbreaking ’60s TV show that lots of Boomers still talk about, proving that folks cherish almost anything from their childhood.
That’s okay, because Dark Shadows was like nothing ever on television when it premiered in 1966. First of all, it was a soap opera that aired every day at 3 pm, just in time for kids coming home from school. Second, it not only featured werewolves, witches, and a conflicted yet charismatic vampire named Barnabas Collins, it offered alternative-universe storylines and even ran an H.P. Lovecraft plotline for a while. Considering this was a five-day-a-week production and that it was shot live for broadcast, the endeavor was remarkably ambitious. The show was canceled in 1971, but not before it spawned a cult following that endures to this day.
Lyndhurst in Tarrytown is commonly associated with Dark Shadows. It was used for the exterior shots in the two early Dark Shadows movies, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). The interior filming was not done at Lyndhurst for the movies. The exterior for the first TV series was the Seaview Terrace Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. The interior shots for the original series were produced in the ABC studios in Manhattan. In the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp flick, Dark Shadows (2012) exteriors were shot in Ontario, Canada, at Trafalgar Castle.
Q: Why do businesses in the Hartsdale area (Kishuya, Ethan Allen, Innovation Luggage) write their addresses as “South Central Avenue”? It’s not the southernmost part of Central Ave.
—Samuel Foreman, White Plains
A: Have the Hartsdalians gotten under your skin with this one? They’re all like: “Hey, we don’t care if it actually is south. We think it sounds cool, so we’re going to call it South Central.’”
I know what you mean. It isn’t you. They’ve always been like that in Hartsdale.
I contacted my main man, Patrick Rafferty, over at the Westchester Historical Society, to get his take on this one. He told me that street addresses in Westchester are related to the post office by which they are served and not so much by the city or town. The Four Corners intersection with East Hartsdale and West Hartsdale Avenues is the dividing line between North Central Avenue and South Central Avenue. For example, Caffe Azzurri, which is just north of Four Corners, is 20 North Central Avenue. Fujinoya Restaurant, which is just south of Four Corners, is at 26 South Central Avenue. Even though South Central Avenue is not the southernmost part of Central Avenue, it is the southern part of Central Avenue within the Hartsdale Post Office.
Q: I’m originally from Troy, NY. We’ve always considered Troy the home of Uncle Sam, but a guy I work with insists Uncle Sam is from Westchester. Please settle a bet for me, so I can shut this guy up.
—Aaron Eckelman, Chappaqua
A: Nothing like a good intrastate feud to bring energy to the column, huh?
The answer to this question is tricky because you have to start with whether you believe Uncle Sam was actually a real human being or merely an iconic symbol. You folks from up north in the Collar City sure take your Uncle Sam lore pretty seriously, with your annual parade, your statues, and your various city references to “Ol’ US.”
The Troy Uncle Sam story goes like this: There was a meatpacker named Samuel Wilson, who supplied barrels of beef to the US Army during The War of 1812. Wilson would stamp “U.S.” on the barrels, and the soldiers started to refer to the tasty treats as being from “Uncle Sam.” The Troy newspaper wrote about Wilson and how the soldiers gave him the nickname “Uncle Sam” for his meat stamp. The “Uncle Sam” nickname for the United States was born and spread through the nation.
Now, does that make this Wilson guy the real Uncle Sam? It does if you’re from Troy.
Meanwhile, Thomas Nast, a German immigrant considered to be the “Father of the American Cartoon,” began playing with the Uncle Sam figure, introducing the white hair, funky goatee, and the O.G. Colonial-pimp, stars-and-stripes outfit. The Westchester connection enters with illustrator/artist James Montgomery Flagg. Flagg is the artist who created the most well-known image of who we now know as Uncle Sam. The iconic “I Want You” poster was created for World War I recruitment, and 4 million copies were made. It features a rather intense-looking dude with severe features, pointing his index finger at you like some guy about to yell, “Get off my lawn!” To save time and the expense of hiring a model, Flagg—who hails from Pelham Manor— reportedly used his own image as the basis for Uncle Sam.
So, who has to pay up? Samuel Wilson was a real guy who packed meat and looked nothing like the guy on the poster, while J.M. Flagg was a guy with a paintbrush looking into a mirror who gave a national icon a unique sartorial flare.