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Eastchester Recalls Two Magnificent Gifts from Two Great Women

Frieda Riggs made a testamentary gift of the Abijah Morgan House, to the Bronxville Historical Conservancy. Abija Morgan House
Frieda Riggs made a testamentary gift of the Abijah Morgan House, to the Bronxville Historical Conservancy. Abija Morgan House Photo Credit: Contributed
After Carmela Vaccaro's death at the age of 99, the Eastchester Board of Education voted to rename Cooper Field to Vaccaro Park.
After Carmela Vaccaro's death at the age of 99, the Eastchester Board of Education voted to rename Cooper Field to Vaccaro Park. Photo Credit: Contributed

EASTCHESTER, N.Y. - -Two woman are being remembered by the town of Eastchester for their gifts to the town, gifts in the form of land and a historic home.

Their names are Carmela Vaccaro and Frieda Riggs. Here are their stories:

Vaccaro spent most of her adult life in the north end of Eastchester and was the matriarch of one of the oldest and biggest families in the town of Eastchester. When she died in 2002, she had six children, forty-three grandchildren, and more than seventy five grandchildren, many of whom still live in the town.

Vaccaro had been a widow for three years when the town approached her in 1950, offering $68,000 for a portion of her property adjacent to her home on 68 Bell Road. Realtors today believe that that property would be worth close to two million dollars.

Instead, of selling, Vaccaro decided to donate the land to the school district, accepting only $7,000. The town agreed and the land became Cooper Field, a playground at the former Cooper School.

In 1980, nearly a decade after the Cooper School closed, town officials negotiated an agreement to rent the property from the school district for one dollar. After Vaccaro's death at the age of 99, the Eastchester Board of Education voted to rename Cooper Field to Vaccaro Park.

Riggs also had a dream come true. Her life had been dedicated to doing whatever she could to preserve the cultural and historical heritage of the village where she had lived for most of her adult like.

In 1932, the year Riggs married, she was taking a bus on Route 22 to White Plains where she had a job with the Westchester County Department of Social Services, taking special notice of the Abijah Morgan house, the oldest home in Bronxville.

The asking price of the Abija Morgan House in 1937 from the bank was $12,000 and with help from her family, Riggs and her husband were able to purchase the house. She lived in the house continuously for 53 years until her passing in 2000.

Riggs made a testamentary gift of the oldest house in Bronxville, the Abijah Morgan House, to the Bronxville Historical Conservancy. The house was subsequently sold subject to a restrictive easement that preserves the historic aspects of the building, and the proceeds of the sale and income thereon are continuously applied to the Conservancy’s mission.

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