4. Village Green
Rose Garden at Village Green
Great Neck’s Village Green is one of the most versatile and popular locations in the village; the Village Green is home to a Veterans’ Memorial, a butterfly garden, a walking course, a rose garden, and many benches arranged around its central fountain. The quaint Rose Garden was designed and created by notable landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in the late 1920s. Although one of the most beautiful spots on the peninsula, the park has quite a fascinating yet strange history.
The Village Green was built on the site of the property of William Gould Brokaw, a wealthy industrialist who purchased a 125-acre estate in the late 1800s. By the late 1800s, Brokaw had inherently over $4 million from his family, specifically from his father who was a partner in a successful clothing business. His estate, Nirvana, included a mansion, a half-mile horse race track, and polo fields, hence why nearby street names include Gould Street, Brokaw Lane, and Polo Road. Brokaw also owned many race cars, including a number of Renaults, as well as a Dumont airship. However, Brokaw was also involved in a number of affairs, and he was sued by several women for millions of dollars. According to the Great Neck Historical Society, one of his divorces made national headlines for over a year across dozens of publications.
After Brokaw sold Nirvana, Farrand and Louise Eldridge took responsibility for developing the Village Green. Eldridge became mayor of Saddle Rock in 1927, believed to have been the first woman mayor in New York State. Eldridge and her husband Roswell built a permanent home for the village library, currently the historic Great Neck House. The Eldridges were also responsible for creating the Great Neck Park District back in 1916. After donating hundreds of trees to All Saints Church in Kings Point, Eldridge began work with Farrand, the latter of whom submitted landscape drawings from 1922 to 1924. The bandstand, designed by Farrand, still remains, as well as the basic design of the rose garden.