Palisades & Snedens Landing
Palisades and Snedens Landing were part of land purchased by George Lockhart, a patent issued on June 27, 1687. The land was soon sold to William Merritt, who probably constructed Cheer Hall, and in 1737, Henry Ludlow built a home nearby called the Big House, the oldest remaining house here today.
By 1745, Robert Sneden and his wife Mary (known as Mollie) were living near the ferry landing on the west shore of the Hudson. There, Sneden worked with Mollie’s brother, Jan Dobbs, in running the river ferry Dobbs began in Westchester, called Dobbs Ferry, in 1729. After Robert’s death in the early 1750s, Mollie took over ferry operations. This area was interchangeably called Snedens Landing, Dobbs Ferry, and Rockland. It is thought that Mollie ferried Martha Washington, her son, and others to Westchester in December, 1775. After the British surrendered, the first salute to the American nation was fired off Snedens Landing on May 7, 1783.
During the early 1800s, population grew and businesses included fishing, quarrying, and shipbuilding. The first schoolhouse was built on Closter Road in 1825. The arrival of steamboats and railroads in the 1840s and 1850s affected the local economy. To attract shipping, Lawrence Sneden built a 500-foot pier in 1850, but the railroad soon proved more efficient. With the establishment of the first post office in 1855, the hamlet’s name was changed to Palisades.
The Erie Railroad connected New York to Tappan in the 1850s, as did the West Shore Railroad the 1870s, and wealthy New Yorkers were drawn to Palisades for land to build summer and permanent homes. As the 1900s began, cars, telephones, and electricity improved life. The building of Route 9W in 1929 improved land travel.
In 1900, Mary Lawrence married a well-known French-Italian sculptor, François Tonetti, and in the 1920s began renting houses she owned to actors, artists, writers, and musicians, and turned Snedens Landing into an artists’ enclave. Ferry service continued until 1946, bringing the 217-year-old Snedens–Dobbs Ferry to an end. In 1967, Palisades developed its own historic district. The attraction of Snedens Landing continues to this day with the many well-known artists, actors, and other well-known personalities who live here.
Palisades Public School ca. 1900 - This two-room school house was built in 1867 where eight grades were taught. Grades 1 through 4 were in one classroom, 5 through 8 in the second. It had a well and two outhouses. A new school was built across the street in 1936 and was closed in 1977. Students in Palisades were bused to other schools. The old school was eventually sold to the community of Palisades for one dollar. (Courtesy Robert Knight)
Blacksmith Tea Shop Wait Staff ca. 1930 - The former Waherberger’s Blacksmith Shop was purchased by August Dumkin, another blacksmith. It was then sold in 1926 or 1927, with the lower floor rented as a tea room from 1928 to 1931. The wait staff here included Sadie Smith, Adele Dow Sisco, Frances Walker Pierson, Adelaide Spencer, and Lenora Sisco. Many notable personalities were served at the Blacksmith Tea Shop, including British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, Helen Hayes, and Katherine Cornell.(OHMA)