History of the Burke Estate

Hastings' Wetland

What We Know

The stream and (now dry) pond is shown on maps from the 1800's

Although most well known in the village as being the home of Billie Burke, the area was home to non-native settlers for hundreds of years. The stream passing near route 9 is seen documented on maps as far back as the 1800's.

Prior to European settlement, Hastings was located in Weckquaesgeek tribal lands. Members of the tribe would gather in the summer in the ravine now located beneath the Warburton bridge, where the Burke estate stream and the brook from Hillside woods merged and flowed out into the Hudson River. Arrowheads and other artifacts indicating fishing have been discovered at that location.

That waterway still exists in the form of a private ornamental lake located on the property of the Newington Cropsey Foundation, with the outflow directed via a concrete pipe and covered over in asphalt to form the metro north commuter lot.

Then and Now

Pond and Bridge from the early 1900's. Broadway is visible on the left.

With the collapse of the retaining dam, the pond has since drained, the stone rim can still be seen as a clue of where the pond sat.

Aerial view of Estate after Burkely Crest was demolished

Burke Estate playing fields today

The stone gate on Broadway led to a main drive.

The metal gate which marks this spot has since fallen victim to invasive vines, though the drive still exists as a natural path.

A winding road wound from Farragut through the natural settings of the property.

The road remains as a path used by pedestrians to cross between Farragut and Broadway.

The Burke Garage

Facilities Garage

Billie Burke was an avid driver and car collector

The School District stores maintenance vehicles in the garage

Survey from 1912 - showing the stream is named "Factory Brook". The pond can be seen on the lower right of the image.

USGS survey from today, the only feature of note being the blue crosshatched 'wetland' markers.

Burkley Crest - Billie Burke's Estate

Kirkman House that Billie Burke purchased

Kirkman House transformed into Burkeley Crest by Billie Burke

Traces of this driveway still exist, including stone edgings and ornamental plants

This house replaced Burkeley Crest in the 1940's - it had a distinctive blue tile roof and was occupied by the Hastings Center

Memories of the Burke

"There were peepers there, as well as cattails when we first moved to Burnside in mid 90's. The peepers were wiped out by the West Nile mosquito preventative that was added to the storm drains.

When we first moved in there was a lot of first generation tree growth around the ruins of the pool and house. A few barely getting by older trees that had once been along the drive to the house. Invasive vines already moving in.

Always great bird life!"

"When I moved to Hastings in 1997 the Burke Estate was a really rich ecosystem with great insect biodiversity. However, invasive plants were already present and, for a variety of reasons, in less than two decades became the dominant flora. "

"When I moved here in 2002 there was both phragmites and cattails in the wetland. Now it’s all phragmites. Also, there was a massive firefly colony, which was buried when they rebuilt the school fields in the 2010’s. "

Share Yours

Your memories help us document the history of the park, and decide what restoration steps are necessary.

Do you remember plants? Animals? Buildings? Experiences shared on the property?

Thank you for sharing them with us!