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A Brief History of

the Village of Kensington

Street Sign
The vision for the “planned colony” that was the forerunner of modern Kensington came from Charles Finlay, President of the Aetna Bank in New York and his partner E.J. Rickert.

        What Rickert and Finlay saw in the early 1900’s was the Deering Farm encompassing a good part of the land east of what was once called Middle Road, the main peninsula thoroughfare. It had formerly been part of the large land holdings of the Allens, original settlers who gave their name to Allenwood. This, together with the Thorne farmland (Mrs. Allen was a Thorne) bought directly from the native Americans, lying on the west side of Middle Road, formed a collar on the neck of land, now the geographic entity of Great Neck. Harpur’s Lane, which would become Beverly Road, bisected the land from Middle Road to East Shore Road, and an apple orchard filled the quarter of the farmland to the north.
Middle Neck Road, 1906
E.J. Rickert Estate, 1912

       For Rickert and Finlay, luxurious homes set down among nature’s gifts, close to the railroad station, and bordered by Manhasset Bay on the east and the main road on the west, was a sure thing.  In February 1909, The Kensington Association was formed, with objectives to preserve, maintain, and improve the Village, to include roads, landscaping, utilities, pool facilities and walkways.

        Facing Middle Neck Road, which at the time was a pleasant tree-lined street devoid of any commercial development, Rickert and Finlay built white gates copied from London’s Kensington Gardens, and then named their village after the gates. Along a gridiron pattern of streets, rows of trees were planted to mark streets and property lines. Beverly Road became a continuous archway of lindens and elms, many of which were saplings in the 1800’s. Eleven and a half miles of hedges, five miles of roadways, and eleven miles of sidewalks were put in. No electric poles or wires marred the eye because of planned interior service strips. A covenant was written to keep business and industry out. A membership corporation was initiated to take care of maintenance and police protection. By 1916, 44 houses had been built on 155 acres. The sales literature read, “Colonial, English, and Italian, and an unusually high standard of architecture, all evidencing the combination of simplicity, restraint, and careful handling of proportions so requisite in successful architecture.”

        In August 1915 the waterfront park was deeded to the Kensington Association. This included a 500 foot sand beach, boat dock, tennis courts, miniature lakes, and one of the largest fresh water swimming pools in the U.S.
        On November 7, 1921, by a unanimous vote of the residents, Kensington became an incorporated village. The first elections for officers and trustees were held on November 28, 1921, with Byron Eldred unanimously elected as its first Mayor.

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