Local Sites: Relive the Revolutionary War

1. Philipse Manor Hall in Yonkers, the home of one of Westchester’s “lords of the manor,” is among the historical treasures of the County. Frederick Philipse III was an ardent Loyalist who fled the United States; the manor features fine exhibits as well as tours by knowledgeable docents.

2. Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson was the home of immensely wealthy landowners Pierre van Cortlandt, who went in the opposite political direction as Philipse at the time of the War; He was a Patriot, an officer in the Continental Army, and Lieutenant Governor of New York State for many years. Here, too, you can explore by guided tour.

3. Other wonderful sites include Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, the John Jay Homestead in Bedford, and St. Paul’s Church (http://www.nps.gov/sapa/index.htm) in Mount Vernon. These all offer excellent, docent-guided tours and exhibits.

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4. Westchester also has many stately Revolutionary War memorials, and a new monument is planned for Yorktown Heights, to commemorate the defense of Pines Bridge in May 1781 by the men of the First Rhode Island Regiment.

5. When British General William Howe and George Washington converged on White Plains in October 1776, Howe approached the village in a leisurely manner, establishing his headquarters for a few days in New Rochelle, on North Avenue in today’s Beechmont neighborhood, and next at the Stephen Ward House on Post Road in Eastchester.

Finally, he moved his headquarters to the Jonathan Griffen House at the corner of Mamaroneck Road and Garden Street in Scarsdale. (Both the Griffen and Ward Houses still stand. The latter is owned by Concordia College.)

6. In contrast to Howe’s leisurely pace, Washington moved his army from Manhattan to White Plains with dispatch. On the way, he set up headquarters briefly on Valentine Hill in Yonkers, now the location of St. Joseph’s Seminary.

After he arrived in White Plains, his headquarters were established at the Elijah Miller House on Virginia Road. The Miller House is presently in a deteriorated state, but community efforts to find a way to restore the structure as a historic resource and museum are ongoing.

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7. The Thomas Paine Cottage on North Avenue in New Rochelle has an indirect relationship to Howe’s actions at this time. As the British general moved north, he directed a Loyalist detachment to seize a Patriot stronghold in Rye. The Loyalists were guided to Rye by a native of New Rochelle and a committed Tory, Frederick Devoe. In a skirmish that subsequently took place in Rye, Devoe was one of 31 men captured by the Americans.

Because of the support that Devoe had given to Howe’s invading army, his property on North Avenue was confiscated by civil authorities, and after the war, turned over to Thomas Paine as a gift for his services in the Revolution. Today, the cottage built by Paine on the property is a Westchester gem, where visitors can enjoy a docent-guided tour and learn about the great polemicist and author of Common Sense.

8. The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail, created by Congress in 2009, passes by Westchester sites that were of great importance in 1781, at the culminating moments of the Revolutionary War. (Many of those sites are mentioned in our July feature, Westchester County in the Revolutionary War).

In addition, there are plans to construct a memorial at Dobbs Ferry’s Little White Church Cemetery on Ashford Avenue to commemorate the departure of the Continental Army from the Hudson on August 19, 1781 and Washington’s bold march to Virginia, so consequential to the fate of our nation

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