Crawford Park has been under ownership of the Town of Rye since 1971. 


By Gregg Hamilton

In May, 1904, Everett Lake Crawford of Crawford, Dye and Cannon, banking & financial brokerage, purchased a 30 acre property in Rye, known as the Satterlee farm.  This parcel was part of 115 acres that the ancestors of Hackallah Brown (later known as Judge Brown) had purchased from Indians in 1680, in concert with other partners.  Everett Lake Crawford, Princeton class of 1901, and his wife Edna Phelps Gregory built a mansion up on the crest of the property soon thereafter, and named it and the property Shanarock Farms.   From windows on the second floor of the house, there was a view south and east out over the young Village of Port Chester and the Long Island Sound all the way to the north shore of Long Island.

Mr. Crawford and his wife, Edna lived in Manhattan and, like many wealthy New Yorkers before them, were seeking to establish a summer residence outside of the city.

Everett Crawford was a nephew of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and was thus familiar with the lifestyle of wealthy land-owners.  He and his wife owned and bred show horses on the farm and in two other locations on the East Coast(Aiken, SC and Shinto Farm in Millbrook, NY) and were both known in hunting and riding circles in NY, Virginia and South Carolina.  Mr. Crawford was a founding principal of a stock brokerage in Manhattan and later the founder and chairman of the Rye Trust Company, later renamed The Rye National Bank.  He was instrumental in the establishment of United Hospital and in the "organizing" of Rye Country Day School.  The Crawfords liked to host big parties in the service of their philanthropic efforts.  In 1911, they scheduled and hosted a polo match on Shanarock Farms to raise funds for the expansion of the United Hospital. 

Everett and Edna raised three daughters in the mansion(Molly, Evna and Frances).  Molly and Evna married Bernard Hopper of Northfield, IL and Jerome Ripley Allen, of Port Chester, respectively, in ceremonies only 30 minutes apart(!) at the Presbyterian Church in Rye on Nov. 18th, 1933.  This unusual and convenient scheduling effectively saved the father of the bride the cost of staging and hosting asecond wedding reception (during the depths of the Great Depression.  The third daughter, Frances, married HowardE. Houston of Meriden, CT on September 9, 1939.

Everett Crawford died at 80 in May, 1960.  His wife, Edna passed in 1973, the same year that a fire destroyed one of the barns on the estate.  Her will left the mansion and 36 acres of the Crawford Estate to the Town of Rye in 1974 for the purpose of creating a public park.  One acre of the estate, down on the eastern edge at the entrance from North Ridge Street, was carved out of the gift to the Town and willed to the middle daughter, Evna Lake Crawford, who was living in the former gatehouse at the time that her mother passed.  

Evna eventually developed Alzheimer’s Disease and moved into a nursing home in South Carolina.  Her daughter Shamim and husband, Craig Allen-Bailey moved into the gatehouse which had become known as “Crawford Cottage”. On September, 15th, 2001, Shamim and Craig both departed the cottage but left a candle burning on the sill of a bay window in the dining room. When Mr. Allen-Bailey returned, the house was in flames and surrounded by fire trucks.  He recalled lighting a “hideous” pink candle in the house earlier in the day, but did not recall extinguishing that candle.  The house was substantially damaged by the fire and could not be reoccupied.  

The Jehovah’s Witnesses who were seeking to build a Kingdom Hall in Rye, moved quickly and were able to acquire the ruins of the Cottage and its land from the estate of Evna Crawford, closing on April 3, 2003.  But the Town of Rye had competing plans and hoped to acquire the Cottage and parcel and to restore the park to the original dimensions of the estate.  On April 15,2003, the Rye Town Board won approval to float a bond of $575,000 to purchase the  burned-out Cottage and the 1 acre parcel on which it sat.  On June 17,2003, the Town Board condemned the Cottage and moved to seize the property through eminent domain.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses fought back, suing the Town for the right to take over the parcel and begin construction of the planned Kingdom Hall.  But, in  July 2003, Judge Harold Baer, Jr forced the litigants to settle and urged the Town to negotiate a purchase price with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The sale price was settled at $750,000 and the property reverted to the Town and was added to the tax exempt list of parcels in the Town on December 20, 2004.

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