NORTH OF THE PARKWAY AND BANKSVILLE
North of the Parkway and Banksville include properties located north of the Merritt Parkway, the area known as Greenwich's backcountry. Defined by endless expanses of breathtaking countryside, many properties in backcountry Greenwich enjoy four-acre zoning. Those seeking the tranquility of a rural environment will find backcountry Greenwich a paradise of natural beauty and a perfect retreat for equestrian pursuits.
Banksville is a quaint neighborhood located in backcountry on the border of Connecticut and New York. It has a small business center on the state line which is home to Finch's Store, a Banksville landmark that has been in business since 1860. Banksville, originally a quiet farming community, was named for Samuel Banks who settled here before 1700. His descendants have remained in the area for over nine generations. Other families who have resided in Banksville for generations are Finch, Zygmont, Wach and Alley.
The twentieth century was a time of change in Banksville. A huge estate was created by a man named Edmund C. Converse. Mr. Converse was a founder of the U.S. Steele Company and president of The Bankers Trust Company of New York. Over the years he systematically purchased farm after farm along North Street. By 1908, he owned a tract of land consisting of over 1,000 acres. He called his estate Conyerse Manor. Over time, the spelling of the name was changed and the property came to be known as Conyers Farm.
Polish, Irish and Italian immigrant families came into the area because of the many work opportunities offered through the development of Conyers Farm. The small, older houses in the area became homes for these immigrants. Among the workers were stone masons, blacksmiths, carpenters and laborers. They built miles of stone walls, cleared fields and created the man-made "Conyers Big Lake" and "Little Lake" that we know today.
During these years, Conyers Farm was nearly self-sufficient. Some of its buildings included the gatehouse at North Street and Lower Cross Road, greenhouses, stables, a cold storage building for fruits from the orchards, a boarding house, dairy barns, an office, a piggery, a poultry house, a blacksmith house and houses for farm workers. Conyers Farm sent their fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products to Greenwich and New York City markets. By 1913, the farm consisted of over 40 buildings and a staff of over 200.
Edmund Converse died in 1921 but the farm continued to operate with Bankers Trust Company overseeing operations. The property was ultimately sold to Frederick Sansome. In 1931 Bankers Trust resumed control and in 1936 Lewis Rosenstiel, President of Schenley Distillers purchased Conyers Farm. By the mid 1950's, farm operations had ended. The buildings and land were no longer being maintained and vandalism set in. Mr. Rosenstiel died in the mid 1970's and his estate offered Conyers Farm for sale. In 1981 the Conyers Farm Partnership purchased the property. Today the beauty that Mr. Converse had originally created has been restored to Conyers Farm. The 1,468 acre parcel is now home to spectacular homes on ten, twenty or more acres.
By the mid-1930's Banksville had little activities available for children and teens. In 1937 incorporation papers were filed for The Banksville Community House, Inc. The club is still active, providing year-round programs for the young people of the area.
Today, Banksville is an area whose residents continue to have a strong sense of community, based in part on the longevity of their family ties to the area. Banksville offers a mix of homes from smaller ones along upper North Street to the magnificent estates of Conyers Farm. The small shopping district at the state line helps keep Banksville's sense of local community among its inhabitants.