History of Lenoir Nature Preserve


    The 40-acre Lenoir Nature Preserve opened in 1978 and is owned by the County of Westchester. The nature center is located in the north section in a turn-of-the-century carriage house. On the south end stands the Lenoir Mansion.  The county acquired the land in two purchases. The first was the Lenoir Mansion parcel (also known as the Tilden/ Wightman Estate) in 1976. This was followed by the purchase of Ardenwold (also called known as Stillwell Estate).

In the fall of 2001 the site became famous in the birding world by hosting a Rufous Hummingbird and stray from way out west. Amazingly this feat was repeated by other sightings in 2002 and 2006.


    “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) staring Russell Crowe was filmed here. The mansion and the lawn in back of it are featured as the mental hospital Russell’s character is confined too. In the deleted scenes on the DVD there is an extended scene showing the lawn and a few of Hudson River Audubon’s Bluebird Boxes. In the short scenes that made the movie the bluebird boxes are hidden by properly placed mental patience in the scenes.

The Alder Estate next to Lenoir was used as the mailbox drop-off location for the character's reports to the Department of Defense.


    The 84th episode of “Sex in the City” was also filmed in back of the mansion where David Duchovny played the role of Jeremy, Carrie Bradshaw's (Sarah Jessica Parker) high-school ex-boyfriend, who has committed himself to a Connecticut mental health facility. The scene shows David and Sarah Jesssica lying on a picnic blanket outside the Connecticut mental health facility (again the Lenoir Mansion is depicted as a mental health facility). On a probably unrelated note, the mansion is rented to the City of Yonkers Board of Ed for offices and for teacher conferences



In 1906 Holland Sackett Duell and his first wife (née Mabel Halliwell) built their family house on property they bought at the extreme end of Yonkers, overlooking the Hudson River.  They called it Ardenwold, a spacious a 30-room Georgian mansion with sprawling manicured rose gardens, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a three-car garage. Many thanks to Sallie and Charles Duell, (who visited in 2010) for the pictures of the mansion and the Holland Sackett Duell family along with Holland Sackett Duell obituary from the NY Times

In 1926 Colonel John Stilwell, a vice-president of Consolidated Edison, president of St. John’s Riverside Hospital, and the brother of World War II General “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell, resided at 30-room Ardenwold until his death in 1963.The mansion was destroyed by fire in the 70’s


Tilden/ Wightman Estate

The Lenoir Mansion was built between 1850 and 1870 for future presidential candidate presidential Samuel J. Tilden and was built of granite quarried on the estate. The fireplace mantel is a copy of one in the Chateau at Blois, France.

The two wings were added around 1907 by C.C. Dula where he named the mansion after Lenoir, North Carolina, where he grew up.

C. C. Dula's niece, Purl Parker, inherited the estate in 1939 where she lived with her husband, Dr. Orrin Wightman until 1965 when Dr. Wightman died.


Alder Estate

This is the property just south of the preserve. The Alder Manor was built around 1912 by William Boyce Thompson.  He hired Beaux-Arts architects John Mervin Carrere and Thomas Hastings to design an Italian Renaissance Revival, 72-room country estate for entertaining. The former Boyce Thompson Institute, established by Thompson in 1924 for plant research was located across the street.

In 1950 after his wife Gertrude died and the land was transferred to the New York Archdiocese. The Alder Manor served as the main house for Elizabeth Seton College, until it was sold to Iona College in 1989. In 1995, Iona College sold the property to the City of Yonkers and the land lay vacant and was the sight of many movies and commercials. In 2000, Tara Circle, an Irish Cultural Center, decides to use it for establishing an Irish cultural center in Westchester County


Map to Lenoir Preserve Directions to Lenoir:
From Saw Mill River Pkwy: Exit at Exit 9, Executive Blvd. Take Executive Blvd. to North Broadway and turn right. Go 1/4 mile and turn left onto Dudley Street. Lenoir's parking lot is on the left.



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