Straight Outta Brooklyn
Hipsters eye Pound Ridge as a compelling next move
Marc Yaggi and Sarah Douglis swing by The Kitchen Table with their kids, Jack and Summer.
Photos by Stan Godlewski
Stop by The Kitchen Table in Scotts Corners, and you’ll undoubtedly meet a recent import from Brooklyn Heights or Williamsburg, drawn to the popular café by the best cup of coffee in town. “Brooklynites pride themselves on being adventurous,” says pre-school teacher Erin Joslyn, who together with her husband, Greg, a media-company executive, bought a 1920s farmhouse on Stone Hill Road when he was doing a reverse commute from Brooklyn to Greenwich. “They like to discover the ‘undiscovered’—everything from interesting food to quirky neighborhoods. Pound Ridge fits into this category, in my opinion.”
While the lack of a train station in town can be a deterrent for some commuters, many newcomers are drawn specifically because of the privacy and the emphasis on land conservation.
“We were looking for a down-to-earth community with lots of nature, good schools, good home values, and friendly people,” says Sarah Douglis, a consultant who moved to town this past summer with her husband, Marc Yaggi, the executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Pound Ridge has a more rustic and natural vibe than traditional suburbs, so it is more compelling to lay roots in such a beautiful community.”
While a lot of young professionals are drawn to Brooklyn to escape the anonymity of Manhattan and to get engaged in their community, when they’re ready to move out of the city, Pound Ridge offers a similar appeal. “In Brooklyn, we were part of a neighborhood where everyone looked out for one another, and that was comforting to us,” explains Julia Johnson, who recently purchased a landmark house in the historic hamlet along with her husband, Henry, who grew up in town. “Pound Ridge, for us, embodies this same sense of community.” Douglis agrees, “We really felt at home when we visited Pound Ridge, and the warmth of the people was a big draw. Other communities lacked that warmth.”
“Fifty to sixty years ago, people came up from the city because you could build modern architecture here,” says Ebie Wood, president of the Pound Ridge Historical Society. “They were seeking free expression. The Mad Men, the artists, the Broadway actors, they all came here.”
Just as the mid-century creative types found they could commune with an eclectic mix of neighbors, recent Brooklyn transplants are drawn to the broad array of grassroots community activities, ranging from antiques fairs and the car show to the fine art and harvest festivals (photo above). “Brooklynites like a sense of community and feeling a little away, being around nice parks, nature, and maybe a bit of an artsy scene,” says Sonia Bain, who moved to town with her husband and two sons in 2014.
The fact that big-box stores are eschewed in favor of small businesses is a big attraction, as well. “To me, independent businesses are what give a town its character,” says Johnson. “I have a feeling I’ll be visiting Plum Plums cheese shop more often than I’d like to admit.” Fellow turophile Douglis concurs, “We are cheese lovers and very quickly developed an affinity for Plum Plums while we were house hunting.”
With great coffee and cheese, cold-pressed juices, two wine stores, a contemporary art gallery, and an indie bookshop as a promising foundation, the newcomers are enthusiastic about the potential for more. “I think the new businesses are a great addition to the town and necessary to keep Brooklyn transplants hooked on living here. Brooklynites are attracted to country living, but they need the stimulation of a thriving Main Street to survive. The renovations in Scotts Corners should help with that,” notes Joslyn, referring to the long-awaited renaissance of the Trinity Corners Shopping Center, soon to be rechristened “Pound Ridge Square.”
Those 20th-century groundbreakers who brought a modern sensibility to Pound Ridge built contemporary homes that blurred the line between indoors and out, encouraging their owners to explore the world in new ways. Jami Greenberg, a music agent and producer, and her husband, Matthew, traded in a three-bedroom coop in Brooklyn Heights earlier this year to embrace that same lifestyle.
“I had pictured myself moving into a farmhouse or colonial, but the home we ended up in is quite the opposite. We purchased a mid-century modern built in 1969. It’s very dramatic against the soft forest landscape. It feels like a penthouse, but we’re on four acres in the middle of the woods, and we couldn’t be happier.”