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Briarcliff Guest Set To Solve Local History Mystery

A new book about Briarcliff Manor founder Walter Law's attorney, William Woodward Baldwin, is shedding light on the beginning years of the village.
A new book about Briarcliff Manor founder Walter Law's attorney, William Woodward Baldwin, is shedding light on the beginning years of the village. Photo Credit: Courtesy The Briarcliff Manor Scarborough Historical Society

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – A new book has shed a new light on Briarcliff Manor’s founder, Walter Law, and local historians are beaming about its revelations.

Author Patricia Andrews, whose new book about Law’s lawyer, William Woodward Baldwin, is set to speak with local residents at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Briarcliff Manor Scarborough Historical Society’s Second Annual Eggnog Party and Book Chat. Andrews not only penned the book “William Woodward Baldwin 1862-1951: His Era Immensely Simplified,” she’s also Baldwin’s granddaughter and gathered the information in the book from Baldwin’s own diaries, writings and photos.

The intimate writings detail an era of Briarcliff Manor’s history that is unprecedented, said Karen Smith, co-president of the historical society.

“This is almost like the last piece of the Briarcliff puzzle,” Smith said. “We didn't know it was missing, but now that we have it, it’s been so exciting. We have an actual first-person narrative about our founder and the early years of the village.”

Smith said she was most interested to hear more about Baldwin and his relationship with Law and a story involving a visit from Mark Twain.

“I really want to know more because it had to do with a deal in Briarcliff Manor that involved Twain, Law, Baldwin and someone else but I don’t know much more about it,” Smith said. “I’m really looking forward to Mrs. Andrews telling a bit more about it.”

The book also details Baldwin’s first meeting with Law in Briarcliff Manor in the late 19th century.

“Walter W. Law was one of the most interesting men Baldwin and Boston ever represented,” Baldwin wrote in an excerpt in the book. “He was an agreeable little Scotchman with a fascinating smile and twinkling blue eyes. He drove McCoy and I through his development in the beautiful Westchester hill country.”

Smith said the detailed, first-person perspective provided more insight than any other account of the founding of Briarcliff Manor.

“History was my major and something like that is so unprecedented and exciting,” Smith said. “You can just hear him saying these things and it’s unlike anything we've ever had here. It’s fascinating.”

The free event will be in the historical center on the bottom floor of the Briarcliff Manor Library, 1 Library Road. Those looking to make a reservation are asked to call the historical society at (914) 941-4393 or through email at

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