On Sunday, April 7th, villagers gathered at the Bronxville Library for a very successful “Literary Afternoon of Prose and Poetry” co-sponsored by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy and the Bronxville Public Library. Jayne Warman conceived of this literary occasion to shed light on the writings of Bronxville’s earliest residents. Mayor Nancy Hand, Marilynn Hill, Patricia Owen, John Barr, Denise DeGiaimo, Guy Longobardo and Robert Riggs joined Jayne in reading from such illustrious poets and authors — and village residents — as Alice Wellington Rollins, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Tudor Jenks, Louise Beebe Wilder and more.
Many of the early village authors enjoyed evenings at a clubhouse known as the “Casino” that stood on the hillside just above the village tennis courts. It was built as a gathering place for the artists and literati and for the general enjoyment of the colony members. There were many events there including readings, entertainments, musicales, lectures and simple social gatherings. Surely many afternoons of poetry and prose would be enjoyed there if it were still standing today. William Van Duzer Lawrence, though known to most as a developer and a founding father of Bronxville, was also an author in his own right. Mayor Hand read from his work, “A Diary and Reminiscences Portraying the Life and Times of the Author.” (1922) When Lawrence decided to purchase the 86-acre Prescott Farm, he envisioned a unique community where artists and writers as well as upper middle class professionals and businessmen would live in close proximity and share their abundant talent. Lawrence lured them to Bronxville by subsidizing their rents and painting an idyllic view of a life of serenity for the writers and a landscape filled with subjects for the artists. Brendan Gill later wrote, as only he could, “The houses in the Park are joyous, are playful; it makes one feel good simply to look at them. They do not shut themselves away from passersby….With their verandahs and bay windows and dormered towers and carved bargeboards and many patterned shingles and occasional exterior sculpture, they reach out and gather one in and prompt one to share their manifold felicities.