And, yes, that tuxedo. Tuxedo is the common name for a formal suit with trousers with the characteristic vertical satin stripe along the outseam and a tailless jacket worn over a studded shirt and cummerbund—but Tuxedo Park in the town of Tuxedo in Orange County, New York, claimed the nomenclature first. Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, who ascended the throne in 1901 upon Queen Victoria’s death, introduced that style of formal attire to one James Brown Potter in 1886, who wore it to the first annual Tuxedo Park Autumn Ball—causing a mini-scandal for his departure from wearing a black tailcoat. This is how history is made. Tuxedo Park derives its name from tucsedo, from the Lenape language of First Americans and means crooked river.
During the colonial period, the area gained renown for iron deposits in the surrounding Ramapo Mountains, which brought a British company to build furnaces and dig mines. Pierre Lorillard II, an American tobacco manufacturer and real estate mogul, bought the British company in 1790 and, before long, the iron deposits were depleted.
By 1885, his grandson Pierre Lorillard IV had developed the area he inherited into a private hunting-and-fishing reserve in what became known as Tuxedo Park. He commissioned Shingle Style cottage-homes designed by the architect Bruce Price, which are credited with influencing Modernist architectural styles and its famous purveyor, Frank Lloyd Wright. The entire area was bounded by a fence, which, to this day, is the same boundary now demarcated by a low stone wall and entered through a massive stone gate.
During Tuxedo Park’s halcyon days from the late 19th century through the 1920s, Bruce Price’s daughter, Emily Post, wrote her book on etiquette. Her wealthy neighbors included Dorothy Draper, the interior designer; Adele Colgate, heiress to the Colgate/Palmolive fortune; J. P. Morgan, the banker; William Waldorf Astor, the hotelier; and Augustus Juilliard, the philanthropist in whose honor the eponymous music conservatory was founded.
The Great Depression affected even the elite of Tuxedo Park. But the town survived and in 1952 was incorporated officially as Tuxedo Park. In 1980, Tuxedo Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its early residential architectural styles, including Tudor Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne—not to overlook its claim as birthplace of the Shingle Style.
Tuxedo Park is a hamlet of less than 800 people at the southern end of the town of Tuxedo in Orange County, New York, about an hour north of Manhattan.
The community is still gated, an old-world enclave entered through a two-story stone portal that houses the police department. There are three lakes within the hamlet, and stately estates along the lakeshores. Available homes are limited, but if you are looking in Tuxedo Park, you will find the median price is around US$1 million. The most expensive properties, to the west of the largest of the three lakes, Tuxedo Lake, start at about US$1.3 million and go up from there.
On Patterson Brook Road you’ll find carriage houses; on West Lake Road you’ll find more contemporary estates with private docks. Turtle Mountain Road is the highest point in Tuxedo Park and offers panoramas of the Ramapo Mountains and the hamlet’s lakes from grand porched homes in rural settings. Most of the homes, contemporary and otherwise, pay homage to the peaks and shingles characteristic of the Shingle Style developed by the hamlet’s first architect.
If you have school-age children—and they make up about 17 percent of the Tuxedo Park population—the Tuxedo Union Free School District’s two campuses offer an excellent K–12 education. The George Grant Mason Elementary School ( grades K–6) and the George F. Baker High School (grades 7–12) provide a fully integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program and endeavor to encourage all students to be active and effective learners.
The hamlet also has one private school, The Tuxedo Park School for grades K–9, housed in a circa-1915 manor house designed by Carrère & Hastings, the architectural firm whose works include the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
The commute from Tuxedo Park to Manhattan via mass transit involves taking the Metro-North Railroad Port Jervis Line from the Tuxedo Station, directly across the main entrance to Tuxedo Park, to Hoboken, New Jersey, and transferring to New Jersey Transit to Penn Station. A commuter coach also runs between the town of Tuxedo and Port Authority in New York City and takes about the same travel time, a little over an hour. Or, you could drive to Midtown Manhattan in under an hour by following New York State Thruway-Interstate 87 to Interstate 278 to the George Washington Bridge.
33 percent of residents hold a graduate degree or higher
37 percent hold a 4-year college degree