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Somers: Do You Know?

The Town of Somers is 225 years old this year.
The Town of Somers is 225 years old this year. Photo Credit: Katherine Pacchiana

SOMERS, N.Y. – The sleepy little up-county town known as Somers has some interesting history you may not be aware of:

  • The second banking institution to open in Westchester County was in the Elephant Hotel. The original Farmers and Drovers bank safe, dating from 1839, is still on the property and is used by Town Clerk Kathie Pacella to store important documents.
  • Renowned photographers Cornell and Robert Capa are buried in Amawalk. The brothers’ graves are at the Friends Meeting Burial Ground on Quaker Church Road. If the Capa name does not ring a bell, consult Google Images. You are sure to recognize the many famous photos.
  • Somers’ Empire Sewing Machine Co. won First Prize at the 1867 Paris Exposition. The company was later purchased by the manufacturers of Remington Rifles.
  • D. W. Griffith’s silent film classic, "America” (1923), was filmed on the hills and plains of today’s Heritage Hills. The Paul Revere scene used The Elephant Hotel. Griffith hired dozens of Somers residents as extras.
  • Somers served as a location for scenes in a number of other movies. These included "Falling in Love,” starring Meryl Streep, “The Secret of My Success,” starring Michael J. Fox, “August Rush,” starring Robin Williams, and “I Am Legend,” starring Will Smith.
  • A 2006 episode of TV’s “Extreme Makeover” was set in Lake Purdys . It centered on the Arena Family.
  • The final stop of the first Putnam Line of the New York Central Railroad was in Baldwin Place. The train engine was reversed on a turntable track for the return trip to New York City.
  • Somers was considered as a site for the United Nations complex in 1945. The proposal was defeated by popular vote.
  • The early 19th century Somerstown Turnpike charged tolls ranging from 4 cents for a horse and rider to 20 cents for a stagecoach. Northeastern county farmers traveled it to transport cattle and produce to the Hudson River for shipment by boat to New York City.
  • Have you ever wondered about that little stone house in front of The Stone House on Route 202? It is one of the mileposts from the original section of the Somerstown Turnpike (1807-1849).
  • Happy Birthday Somers. Incorporated in 1788, the town of Somers is 225 years old this year.

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