History

History

The Native Americans whose foot trails laid the foundation for many of today’s area roads were the earliest inhabitants of this land. In the late 1780′s, Abraham Underhill developed this site as a farm. It once totaled over 445 acres and was known for raising quality cattle and horses.  The Underhill family called the Main House “Hillside Cottage.”  They owned the property for over 125 years.  In 1911, Philip Berolzheimer, President of the Eagle Pencil Company of NYC, purchased the farm, naming it Charhelen after his two children, Charles and Helen.

In the 1940s, Henry and Molly McMahon Christal owned the farm, then known as Hanover Hill Farm.  Prize winning Guernsey cows, Morgan horses and chickens were raised here.  After 30 years, the dairy operations shut down and the herd sold.  In 1977, a group of investors from New York City purchased the farm for the purpose of raising high quality Holstein cows.  They changed the name to Hilltop Hanover Farm. Fire destroyed the original dairy barn in June of 1982, but the local firefighters saved the prized cows.  By 1991, the breeding program for Hilltop Hanover Holsteins ceased and the entire herd, 123 head, was sold at auction.

The farm was purchased in 2003 by Westchester County for watershed protection and agricultural education.  In May of 2010 the Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center, Inc. was formed to assist the county in raising funding and helping with the day to day operations of the facility.  The Friends group is working to expand on the success of the farm as a regional working farm and environmental education center, with specific emphasis on agricultural preservation, drinking water protection, and the promotion of environmental stewardship through demonstration projects and sustainability programs. One of the goals of the Friends organization is to eventually raise enough funding to take over the entire operations and programming at the farm, thereby helping the county’s goals of reducing the budget.  To learn more about the Friends and how you can help or become a Friend of Hilltop Hanover Farm, click here.