History of Old Westbury

The Village of Old Westbury was first settled in 1658 and was known as "Woodedge" because of its location on the north side of Jericho Turnpike where the flat Hempstead Plains to the south stopped and the rolling woodland to the north began. Several years later it was named Westbury by two of the first Quaker settlers after their native town of Westbury in Wilshire, England.

During the next 225 years Old Westbury remained virtually isolated by choice from any contact with the outside world. With 90% of its land under Quaker ownership, it consisted of 42 large self-sufficient farms, a post office-general store, a blacksmith shop, a grist mill, a Friends meeting house, a carpet and dye works, and a nursery.

Beginning in the late 1890s, a second way of life began in Old Westbury with the Estate Era. The owners of these new large estates were from prominent New York City families. They came to Old Westbury because its rolling hills of unspoiled terrain were close to the city and a perfect setting for the sports they played. Within ten years, only 9 Quaker farms remained with the rest of the Village comprised of large estates, which were also self-sufficient, from dairy farm to polo field. It was during this estate-years era that the village grew to prominence and in 1924 its twelve square miles of land was incorporated into the Village of Old Westbury, with a population of 500 and assessed valuation of $6,500,000.

After World War II, with the advent of new parkways, more families from the city anxiously sought homes within commuting distance on smaller parcels of land. This influx, and rising real estate taxes, ushered in the third and present way of life for Old Westbury which led to the breaking up of these large estates into two-acre residential subdivisions. In 1987, the Village up-zoned to four-acre residential properties and created lot averaging for large residential subdivisions.

Richard Gachot
Village Historian