For over a half century, the Windmill Club has brought residents together for all kinds of social and sporting activities. From lake swimming, tennis and softball to elegant parties, barbeques and late nights at the Windmill Bar. The club's snack bar is open daily, and hosts intimate Friday night dinners throughout the summer overlooking the moonlit lake.
The Windmill Club’s newly renovated clubhouse is a converted boathouse that sits on the edge of a pristine lake that draws all kinds of swimmers, from splashing toddlers to a competitive swim team to lap swimmers. Sand castles, sunbathers and volleyball games coexist on its sandy beach, providing instant decompression every day of the week.
Across the lake, four tennis courts supervised by Windmill’s own tennis pro are the scene of friendly matches, USTA women’s league play, and lessons for all ages and levels. Softball, basketball, bicycling and rollerblading within the Club’s 80 acres add to the park-like atmosphere.
A volunteer Board of Governors keeps the programs vital and carefully preserves the historical windmills and clubhouse, beautifies its grounds, maintains clean and safe swimming facilities, and draws enthusiastic residents of all ages to have fun in the sun.
Windmill Farm began with Dr. Charles Paterno, a physician turned Manhattan developer, who decided to escape the city’s heat. In 1919 he bought 268 acres known as North Castle Farm, which had a 1910 colonial manor sitting on a knoll overlooking Route 22. Dr. Paterno soon became a gentleman farmer, presiding over horses, cows, chickens and ultimately an orchard of 1200 fruit trees. In a 1918 interview for American Magazine, he calculated that he had built about 75 apartment buildings in New York City, housing perhaps 28,000 people. Clearly he had needed a change of pace.
Within a few years, Dr. Paterno acquired additional land, 1270 acres on both sides of Route 22. His son, Carlo, related that in 1922 his father planted a million and a half evergreen seedlings (a figure hard to comprehend) in anticipation of a New York state ban against cutting live trees for Christmas. Paterno was going to sell his nursery stock balled. The law never passed, but the evergreens were cut and sold at Christmas until about 1958. Those that escaped the ax still stand in straight rows towering over many of the homes.
Walls and Windmills
During the Depression, Paterno hired scores of laborers who reportedly worked for 50 cents an hour building the landmark fieldstone wall, almost a mile long. In the 1930s he added four interconnecting lakes by damming streams and erecting at least six windmills to draw water from newly drilled wells. Paterno hoped to sell water to North Castle residents. When that plan failed, he asked a local builder, Edmund Petre, to build a boathouse for his family on one of the lakes and cover the steel-shafted windmills with wood. Petre designed each windmill differently with distinctive trims and cornices.
A New Community
In 1946, Carlo Paterno inherited his father’s country estate, which was by then called Windmill Manor, and decided to turn it into a residential community. He foresaw that the land, graced with the picturesque windmills, lakes and dramatic rock formations would be a drawing card for homebuyers. His offering brochure called it “a new and fascinating design for country living.”
The manor house became the “administration building,” and prospective homebuyers were put up overnight in the Paterno guesthouses near the barns on Upland Lane. Some families stayed several months while their houses were being built.
Birth of the Club
On March 18, 1948, Carlo Paterno drew the new homeowners together, incorporating them under the name The Windmill Club, and he designated the boathouse, The Clubhouse. His brochure explained that his company would “manage the Club until two-thirds of the building plots have been sold. At that time, the incorporators will turn over to the members the administration of the Club, together with the authority to approve all plans, enforce rules and regulations and control the abatement of nuisances.”
By 1954, some 60 homes had been built and Windmill Farm was sold to developers Edward Tobin and Mac Welson, who continued the home and road building for five more years. The next developer of the Farm’s 750 acres was Olivia G. Seeler, who presumed she had completed construction in the 1960s. The count stayed at 372 homes until the turn of the 21st century, when five more were built.
Windmill Farm retains its country character even today with unspoiled natural landscaping, winding roads, and woods enough for squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, raccoons and deer.