Guest Author - Jennifer Moore Stahlkrantz
Hiram Halle, a bachelor businessman and inventor, arrived in Pound Ridge, NY in 1928, a time when the struggling farming community was in economic decline. He bought and restored an old farmhouse, and then he bought a second. He kept going until he had transformed 33 houses and owned more than 700 acres of land.
Many of the Hiram Halle homes are located in the historic Pound Ridge hamlet which encompasses an area where Pound Ridge Road and Westchester Avenue merge and continue north, splitting again into Stone Hill Road to the northwest and Salem Road to the northeast.
Here is a quick architectural tour of Hiram Halle homes you can complete in less than an hour.
A good place to start is the Pound Ridge Community Church at 3 Pound Ridge Road. The house to the right of the church is the Ezra Lockwood House. Originally a one room house with sleeping loft, it was built around 1798 and expanded in the 1800s. Hiram Halle added his touches in the 1930s. It now serves as the church’s parsonage.
Turn left out of the church’s parking lot and then bear left at the fork. You will end up on Westchester Avenue where the Pound Ridge Museum is the small, yellow building on your right (#255).
On your left, you will see the Alsop Hunt Lockwood House (#258) which once housed Emily Shaw’s renowned, eponymous inn. The William L. Smith House (#266), from which Halle removed all Victorian detail, including an ornate front porch,is next door and was built around 1829.
As you approach the fork where Westchester Avenue splits into Stone Hill and Salem Roads, look to your right at the Hiram Halle Memorial Library (#271). This was once the Village Schoolhouse. Halle owned it and the adjacent cottage which he used for his architect’s office. Upon his death, Halle left the schoolhouse and cottage to the town for use as the public library.
Bearing right after the library, you’ll find Salem House up on a hill (7 Salem Road). It is a quintessential example of Halle’s creative sense of design -- he combined three old dwellings to create one new home. The eastern end of the house was an early 20th century barn from Connecticut; the current kitchen area was a small Bedford, NY cottage; and the central section was a 1700s North Salem, NY farmhouse which Halle dressed up with colonial revival detailing.
The Gun House next door (#9) is named for its 19th century predecessor, a storage facility for Civil War artillery. Eventually, the original gun house disappeared and a blacksmith shop was built on its site. Halle purchased the blacksmith shop and completely remodeled it as a home with funeral doors at the main entrance, a circular staircase that winds around an old ship’s mast, and bow windows that are believed to be from an old English storefront.
Turn right onto Trinity Pass and you’ll come to Aaron Wood’s Mill, just behind the Gun House, which served as a cider mill in the late 1700s and as a saw mill in the mid 1800s. Halle updated it with early 20th century conveniences and designated it as a meeting retreat for faculty from the University in Exile, an institution that Halle co-founded at the New School for the European intelligentsia who fled persecution by the Nazis. It is a private residence now.
Across from the Mill is the Eyebrow House, perhaps the oldest house in the hamlet. Originally built in 1737, Halle updated it and added bay windows from England and funeral doors.
Continue down Trinity Pass until you get to the Hiram Halle Ravine on your right. Take the opportunity to get out and stretch your legs as you wander through this little bit of heaven. After the ravine, take a left on Donbrook and follow it along the reservoir to Salem Road. Take a left on Salem, and as you pass the Gun House, bear right on to Stone Hill Road.
The first house on your right (# 205) will be the Byron Stratton House. The 1765 Connecticut farm house, sold to Halle for $500 in 1935, is the center of this now significantly expanded family home. Halle’s crew moved the original house to its current site, turned it sideways, and added a “new” wing, ships’ windows, and a front entrance on the western side. Subsequent owners added a library wing to the eastern side.
Drive northwest on Stone Hill Road past the weathered gray house with the “Hobby Barn” sign out front and bright red doors. That is also a Halle House, but I haven’t had a chance to get inside yet!
And, that's the end of the Pound Ridge, NY Architectural tour. If you continue to the end of Stone Hill Road, just after Coker Farm (look for the zebra in meadow), take a left on the Old Post Road and stop for breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner at Richard Gere's Bedford Post Inn (#954). Yes, THAT Richard Gere.
If you’d like to seek out the remaining 22 Halle houses, contact the Pound Ridge Historical Society for a map and guide to his restorations. And keep your eyes open as you drive -- a second course of bricks painted black all around at the top of a chimney is the tell-tale mark of a Hiram Halle house.
Note: All of these houses, except the Hiram Halle Library, are private residences. The owners do not provide house tours.