Arrow Park has existed for nearly three generations as a "family gathering and social meeting place in the country." It has been a place of art, retreat, contemplation and celebration. It has been a place of controversy and it has been a place of unity. These wooded grounds and this grand old mansion have welcomed those starting new lives and those who have come to heal the pains of loss.
It has been seventy since the founders of Arrow Park purchased the 15,000 square-foot summer home of Schuyler Schieffelin along with the 600 acres of wooded and lake terrain which surrounded it. Though a large portion of the property has since been included in the 18,000 acres of Sterling Forest and Orange County Land Trust – the Lodge, Lake and Beach areas remain in the care of Arrow Park and the property shareholders.
HOW ARROW PARK CAME TO BE
The Schuyler Schieffeling Mansion and A Workers Union
The lodge at Arrow Park was commissioned and built in 1909 by Julia Cooper and Schuyler Schieffelin. Bowen Bancroft Smith was the architect. The mansion was intentionally situated so it appears to grow right out of a bowl shaped hollow on the side of a very steep valley.
Schieffelin and Cooper prior to moving to Monroe were living in Tuxedo Park. Rumor has it that Schieffelin, a great friend of Harriman became angry when Harriman was denied the purchase of a house in Tuxedo Park. In solidarity to his friend, Schieffelin bought 600 acres from Mr. Harriman and began construction on this wonderful estate. The mansion itself resembles an Italian Villa. It's interior architecture includes numerous artistic features, design elements and ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement that were prevalent in the day.
In 1948 the estate was sold to AROW Farms, Inc. – (American Russian Organized Workers) a group of Slavic Workers from the Boroughs of New York City and Newark. They were looking for a place of rest and recreation for themselves and their children in the countryside. They sold 2000 stock certificates for $100.00 a piece and with the $200,000 they raised formed a committee to find an appropriate property near New York City.
As it turned out, the Schieffelin property was deemed the ideal spot. With hiking trails, gardens, a large lodge and lake, it proved to be the perfect location for what would become Arrow Park. It's closeness to New York and New Jersey, where most of the workers and tradesman lived their daily lives, make the location convenient for weekend and summer vacations. Attendance was popular and the Park soon grew into a lively social club with the bungalows, lodge, beach and large dance pavilion. The initial investors all volunteered their time to run the park and facilities. Many even built houses close by so that they could enjoy the park during their retirement.
The park was large enough to have community gardens, cultural events, dances and concerts of all varieties.
Many of today's shareholders of Arrow Park are related to those original founders – many are the children and grandchildren of those original investors. While the times have changed, and second and third generations of families have spread throughout America (and indeed throughout the world) Arrow Park has remained. And, it remains relatively "untouched" by the growth of contemporary live in America. It remains "a world away" from the rigors and stress of daily life – which is precisely what it was intended to be as far back as when it was originally built for the Schieffelin family in 1909.