We are fortunate to have been the custodians of Scarsdale’s historic Wayside Cottage for the last 70 years! Historians believe Wayside dates back to around 1715, making it one of the oldest preserved residences in the United States. The JLCW is honored to call this historic landmark our home and has carried out widespread restorations and returned it to its rich past.
In addition to acting as the home of the JLCW, the cottage serves many functions in the community. Each year, tours of the cottage are given to schoolchildren and interested local groups who learn about the history of Wayside from JLCW Guides. In 2023, the JLCW embarked on a partnership with the Witness Stones Project to further our research into the complex history of the people who lived and worked at Wayside.
Wayside Cottage was originally built by Edmund Tompkins on his 100 acre plot of land in today’s Fox Meadow neighborhood. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites, Wayside Cottage is believed to date back to 1717 and has evolved and grown over the years from a one-room farmhouse, to an inn, tavern, post office, and library. Read more about its rich history below:
|The “Wayside” plot (originally about 100 acres) was conveyed to Edmund Tomkins April 22, 1717 by Caleb Heathcote.
|Thomas Hadden bought the farm from Abraham Hyatt in 1729.
|In 1761 the Varian Family moved to the cottage when James Varian, a staunch patriot, decided to move his family out of New York City when it was captured by the British to “neutral ground” as Wayside’s location was considered. The Varian family’s tenure straddled both Colonial and post-Colonial times with Wayside Cottage serving as a drover’s inn and private residence until 1851.
|In 1853 wealthy entrepreneur Charles Butler purchased Wayside as part of his vast country estate. Upon Charles Butler’s death, the land passed to his daughter, Emily. In 1917, during WWI, she offered 30 acres of land surrounding Wayside Cottage to the residents of Scarsdale so that they could form a community farm. Local people subscribed to the Community Farm and were paid wages when they worked there. The idea proved very successful and helped the residents of Scarsdale through a tough period in history.
|Upon her death, Miss Emily Butler deeded Wayside and its property to The Village of Scarsdale to be used “…for the purpose of creating an historical park and for the preservation and maintenance of the ancient building for the use of educational and historical purpose, for fostering a public and democratic spirit in the community and providing a center for civic welfare, club rooms or lyceum for the use of the people of Scarsdale”. That year, the Scarsdale Women’s Club established their clubhouse at the cottage after extensive renovations.
|The Westchester County Historical Society placed a bronze tablet on the house that states it was “a meeting place for Scarsdale patriots and the scene of repeated attacks by British soldiers.”
|In 1928 the Women’s Club moved to larger headquarters and Wayside became the home of the Scarsdale Library.
|In 1951, having outgrown the space, the Library moved to larger quarters. For a year and a half Wayside sat silent and empty awaiting a new tenant.
|In 1953 the Junior League of Scarsdale (now known as The Junior League of Central Westchester) was chosen to be the new custodians of Wayside Cottage, fulfilling Miss Butler’s covenant. The League, with the help of dedicated members and local volunteers, carried out a widespread restoration of the cottage, both inside and out and returned it to its rich Colonial past.
|After years of public service, time had taken its toll and it again became evident that Wayside Cottage was in need of extensive restoration work. With funding from New York State, Westchester County and The Village of Scarsdale, a restoration architect was hired, plans drawn up and in late 2007 a yearlong, total exterior restoration of the building began. The building that has served the Scarsdale Community for close to 300 years now stands as both an important reminder of our past and an example of the Junior League of Central Westchester’s commitment to future generations.
|In 2013, the JLCW renewed its lease as loyal custodians of Wayside Cottage through 2028.