Living In: Thornwood, N.Y.: An Unpretentious Place Where Neighbors Know One Another
Thornwood, N.Y.: An Unpretentious Place Where Neighbors Know One Another
A solidly middle class community, the hamlet of Thornwood offers an affordable alternate to pricier areas in Westchester County.
Living In … Thornwood, N.Y.
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Meredith Fasano had her heart set on living in Thornwood, N.Y. It was where she grew up, and where her parents still lived. “I knew it was a safe community, a good community, with strong schools,” she said.
But she had to wait. Ms. Fasano, 36, works in product marketing in Stamford, Conn. Her husband, Frank Fasano, 37, is an orthopedic physician assistant in Somers, N.Y. Nine years ago, when they decided to move out of their rental apartment in Ridgefield, Conn., and buy a house, Mr. Fasano, a Staten Island native, was appalled by the property taxes in Westchester County. So they landed in Danbury, Conn., where their daughter, now 5, and son, 2, were born.
Still, Thornwood beckoned. “I told my husband, ‘I’m going back,’” Ms. Fasano said. “‘I don’t know when, but I’m going back.’”
Ms. Fasano’s “when” came last year. “Our daughter was starting kindergarten in the fall,” she said, “and we wanted to be in a better school district.”
So they began looking. Aside from Thornwood, they ventured a few miles north to Chappaqua and Mount Kisco, but all the houses they saw needed upgrades. “I felt that if I had to put work into a house, I’d rather it be in Thornwood than someplace I’m not familiar with and where I don’t have family ties,” Ms. Fasano said.
In January 2018, the Fasanos paid $715,000 for a 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom, split-level house, built in 1970 on an acre. After some renovating, they moved in, in April. “We live in a cute little neighborhood on a cul-de-sac,” she said.
Their cul-de-sac is a couple of minutes from her parents, who help care for the couple’s children. And it is the same street Ms. Fasano’s aunt once lived on.
“I used to visit my cousins there,” she said. “I tell my kids, ‘Mommy used to ride her bike over here.’”
Thornwood is a 1.1-square-mile hamlet in the town of Mount Pleasant, in central Westchester County. Its approximately 4,000 residents are a mix of families like Ms. Fasano’s, who have been there for generations, and newcomers, often with young children.
They live on leafy streets with a preponderance of first names — from Linda Avenue to Gerald Place and Allison Lane — and a few that honor poets, including Milton Drive and Keats Road. While predominantly white, Thornwood’s population has some socioeconomic diversity. As James J. Timmings, the Mount Pleasant assessor, put it: “There are some high-end properties and some lower-end properties, but overall it’s pretty solidly middle class.”
Carl Fulgenzi, Mount Pleasant’s supervisor, said a master plan is being developed to revitalize the town’s hamlets. Goals in Thornwood include rezoning to encourage improvements in the grittier commercial areas and adding more sidewalks to boost walkability. The plan should be completed later this spring, Mr. Fulgenzi said, adding: “You are going to see some major changes within the next five years.”
What You’ll Find
Just off the Saw Mill River Parkway, in Thornwood’s northwest corner, lies a commercial intersection called Four Corners, the site of two gas stations, a restaurant and a Walgreens. Steps away is Town Center at Thornwood, a shopping center anchored by a ShopRite supermarket. A mile and a half from there is the hamlet’s second large strip mall, Rose Hill Shopping Center.
Otherwise, Thornwood is primarily residential, its sometimes hilly streets lined with colonials, Capes and ranches, many expanded or rebuilt. Rita Longo, an associate broker with Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, said parcels are smaller in the western part of the hamlet, where “you’ll find more starter homes.”
Mr. Timmings said Thornwood has nearly 1,400 single-family homes, including two townhouse developments, and 48 two- and three-family homes. The only condominiums are in a 27-unit complex called Kensico Arms, a converted school. There are no co-op or rental buildings.
What You’ll Pay
“Some people think Westchester is too expensive unless you go farther north,” said Tara Siegel, an agent at Houlihan Lawrence who works in partnership with Jordie Wilk. “But Thornwood offers affordable options and a great commute.”
Prices start in the $200,000s for condominiums, she said, with modest houses to the west in the $300,000s and $400,000s. Elsewhere, she said, “a lot of the homes will be in the $500,000s, $600,000s and $700,000s, and there are areas of high-end homes that will go for over $1 million.”
Sales of Thornwood’s pricier homes have slowed, Ms. Longo said, possibly because of changes in the tax laws. But “anything under $750,000 is hot,” she added. “Inventory is low, and when a home is priced right, it can generate multiple offers, and you can get close to and occasionally over asking.”
According to the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, as of Mar. 4, there were 12 single-family homes on the market in Thornwood, from a two-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot ranch, built in 1956 and listed for $384,500, to a five-bedroom, 5,550-square-foot colonial, built in 1928 and listed for $1.15 million.
The median sale price for a single-family home during the 12-month period ending Mar. 4 was $575,000, down from $590,000 the previous 12 months.
Thornwood is an unpretentious place, small enough that neighbors know one another. They may meet at the seven-acre James M. Carroll Park, on the playground or ball field, enjoying town-sponsored summertime concerts or picnicking by Leith’s Pond, where fishing and ice skating are permitted.
Residents are part of the larger Mount Pleasant community, gathering at school sports events, the annual Mount Pleasant Day and the Mount Pleasant Community Center, a 12-acre complex with four pools and a branch of the Mount Pleasant Public Library.
Diners have choices, including Italian and Asian restaurants, the family-friendly gastro pub The Barley House, and the Thornwood Coach diner.
A few miles away, in Pleasantville, cinephiles will find the renowned Jacob Burns Film Center, and nature lovers can explore the 1,425-acre Rockefeller State Park Preserve.
Nearly all of Thornwood is served by the Mount Pleasant Central School District, which also serves the hamlet of Hawthorne and portions of the hamlet of Valhalla and the town of Pleasantville. A small section of Thornwood with about 50 houses is zoned for the Byram Hills Central School District, in Armonk.
The Mount Pleasant district’s roughly 2,000 students attend Hawthorne Elementary for kindergarten through second grade, Columbus Elementary for grades three through five, Westlake Middle School for sixth through eighth grade, and Westlake High School. With the exception of Hawthorne Elementary, the schools are in Thornwood, where the middle and high schools share a campus. The middle school offers the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program; the high school has a three-year science research program and holds an annual science fair.
On the 2017-18 state assessments, 68 percent of the district’s fourth-graders were proficient in math and 68 percent were proficient in English Language Arts; statewide equivalents were 48 and 47 percent. Mean SAT scores for the 2018 graduating class were 600 in evidence-based reading and writing and 570 in math; statewide means were 534 and 534.
Commuters to Manhattan, 30 miles southwest, have easy access to the Saw Mill River and Taconic Parkways. Or they can catch Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem line at the nearby Hawthorne station. Peak trains take 44 to 54 minutes to get to the city; monthly fare is $311. (Thornwood had its own station until the 1980s, when the railroad transitioned from diesel to electricity; a track curve made construction of a newly required raised platform impractical, so the stop was eliminated.)
Three decades ago, a giant hole gaped near the Four Corners intersection, 600 feet wide and 200 feet deep. It was the ghost of a former marble quarry that began operating in 1845 and became one of Thornwood’s first industries. Known as Snowflake Lime Works for the whiteness of its stone, the quarry thrived for decades, supplying marble for the likes of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and the U.S. Custom House in New Orleans. The quarry ceased operation and was sold in the early 1970s. In 1985, the hole was filled with rocks and paved over. It is now Town Center, where, behind the shops, a vertical wall of stone is a reminder of the past.
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Published at Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:01:17 +0000