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Irvington, N.Y.: A Walkable Village With Striking Manhattan Views

After spending 31 years raising their three sons in a four-bedroom, 19th-century Victorian near Main Street in Irvington, New York, Patricia and John Ryan decided to downsize. But when they sold their house in 2008, they knew they did not want to go far.

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Susan Hodara
, New York Times

After spending 31 years raising their three sons in a four-bedroom, 19th-century Victorian near Main Street in Irvington, New York, Patricia and John Ryan decided to downsize. But when they sold their house in 2008, they knew they did not want to go far.

“We never considered living anywhere but Irvington,” Patricia Ryan, 72, said. “And not just anywhere in town — only in the village center.”

The 2.8-square-mile village of Irvington is one of six villages in the riverside town of Greenburgh. Its historic center is defined by the bustling commercial hub of Main Street, which runs a half-mile downhill from Broadway to the Hudson River, and the narrow residential side streets that intersect it. Living there, the Ryans appreciated being steps from the train station, library and local shops and restaurants.

“We love the old homes, the lively streets, the friendliness of the people and the sense of community the village offers,” Patricia Ryan, a writer, said.

As longtime residents, the Ryans nurture that sense of community. Patricia Ryan is president of the Irvington Historical Society and former chairwoman of the Irvington Democratic Committee. John Ryan, 74, a retired forensic accountant, is treasurer of both organizations.

It took them two years to find their current home, and in the interim they rented an apartment (within walking distance of Main Street, of course). In 2010, they paid $569,000 for a 1,672-square-foot, two-family house, with four bedrooms, a front porch and a garage, two blocks from their old place. Built in 1900, the house sits on approximately 3,500 square feet of land, with room for a vegetable garden.

“Being a two-family was a strong point,” Patricia Ryan said, “because it offered us the possibility of added income.”

Although Irvington is dotted with multimillion-dollar mansions, its roughly 6,500 residents are a socioeconomically diverse mix. Brian Smith, the mayor, attributed this to the village’s housing options, which include condominiums and cooperative apartments. “A two-bedroom co-op for $230,000 is still prohibitively expensive for a lot of people, but it does allow some young families to move here and some seniors to stay,” he said.

He described the village as “throwback small-town America with a progressive flair,” citing the sometimes-provocative performances at the Irvington Town Hall Theater and, more generally, an inclusive viewpoint that embraces diversity.

“With all the national debates going on,” said Lawrence S. Schopfer, the village administrator, “our board of trustees has been on the forefront in terms of us being a welcoming community.”

Comparing the village with other high-performing Westchester municipalities, like Scarsdale and Rye, Smith said attitudes in Irvington are more laid-back. “We’re a Type A community,” he said, “with a Type B personality.”

— What You Will Find

The side streets around Main Street are lined with modest clapboard homes on small lots. Elsewhere, leafy neighborhoods like Matthiessen Park, Barney Park and Ardsley Park have a blend of Colonials, Tudors, Victorians and gated estates. East of Broadway, developments include Legend Hollow and Fieldpoint, not far from townhouse complexes like Richmond Hill and Harriman Keep. Roughly 35 percent of the village is parkland.

Edye McCarthy, Greenburgh’s assessor, said Irvington contains approximately 1,180 single-family homes and 100 multifamily homes. There are eight condominium complexes, 13 cooperative complexes and 17 apartment buildings, with a total of nearly 1,100 units.

— What You Will Pay

Irvington’s real estate market has not been immune to the effects of Greenburgh’s recent townwide home revaluations and the new federal tax code limiting state and local tax deductions. “Sales of homes from $1,200,000 to $2 million have slowed,” said Elizabeth Hargraves, a licensed agent with William Pitt Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty.

Debra Goodwin, an agent with William Raveis Legends Realty Group, estimated that taxes on a village home valued at $2 million are about $60,000. “Our property taxes are higher than in many places,” she said.

The market for less expensive homes, especially those within walking distance of Main Street and the train, has been unaffected by the changes. “Anything under $1,200,000 is selling like crazy,” Hargraves said.

According to data from the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, as of July 23 there were 53 single-family homes on the market, from a 948-square-foot, two-bedroom, 1926 bungalow listed at $449,000, to an 11,653-square-foot, eight-bedroom gated Colonial, built in 1929 on 12 acres, for $4,950,000. There was one condominium, listed for $595,000, and 10 cooperative apartments, priced from $199,000 to $799,000.

For the 12-month period ending July 23, the median sales price for a single-family home was $1,325,000, up from $1,192,500 during the previous 12 months. The median price for a condominium was $660,000, down from $675,250 the previous year; for a co-op, it was $245,000, up from $187,000 the year before.

In late July, there were five rental units available, ranging from $1,500 to $2,800 a month. The median monthly rental during the 12-month period ending July 23 was $3,500, up from $3,400 during the previous 12 months.

— The Vibe

Along with unobstructed river vistas from Main Street, Irvington offers several ways to revel in the proximity of the Hudson. The residents-only Matthiessen Park has a boat launch, as does Scenic Hudson Park, where visitors can take in the Manhattan skyline.

Inland, a stretch of the linear Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park cuts through the village. Farther east, hikers can explore the 400-acre Irvington Woods.

Neighbors meet up at the Irvington Farmers Market, numerous village restaurants and seasonal events like the village-sponsored Memorial Day parade and July 4 fireworks. For older residents, the Irvington Senior Center offers activities.

History lives on at Village Hall, home to the 432-seat Town Hall Theater, modeled after Ford’s Theatre in Washington, and the restored Tiffany Reading Room, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. An extension of the nearby Irvington Public Library, the room is adorned with mosaic tiles, turtleback lanterns and wooden beams inscribed with literary quotations.

Outside, a sculpture of Rip Van Winkle commemorates the village’s namesake, author Washington Irving, whose estate, Sunnyside, straddles Irvington and Tarrytown and is open to the public.

— The Schools

Irvington residents are served by the Irvington Union Free School District, which also serves portions of the village of Tarrytown and unincorporated Greenburgh; of the district’s 1,775 students, more than three-quarters live in Irvington. Students in kindergarten through third grade attend Dows Lane Elementary; fourth and fifth graders go to Main Street School. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders attend Irvington Middle School before moving on to Irvington High School; the middle and high schools share a campus.

On the district’s 2017 fourth-grade state assessments, 74 percent of students met English standards and 80 percent met math standards; statewide equivalents were 41 and 43 percent. Irvington High School’s 2017 mean SAT scores were 619 in evidence-based reading and writing and 625 in math; statewide equivalents were 528 and 523.

— The Commute

Commuters to Manhattan, 22 miles southwest, can catch Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson line at the Irvington station or, two minutes south, the Ardsley-on-Hudson station. Rush-hour trains to and from Grand Central Terminal take between 36 and 53 minutes; the monthly fare is $268.

— The History

The imposing, white stucco Italianate house on North Broadway, just north of Main Street, was built in 1918 for Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American entrepreneur. Born Sarah Breedlove, the daughter of slaves, Walker made her fortune by selling a hair straightener she created. She hired Vertner Woodson Tandy, New York’s first certified African-American architect, to design her 34-room home, known as Villa Lewaro, after the letters of her daughter’s name: A’Lelia Walker Robinson.

Walker died just eight months after the house was built. Still a private home, Villa Lewaro was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and designated a National Treasure in 2014.

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