The Oakwood Heights area began to be developed around the turn of the 20th century as a "highly restricted" residential park. It was advertised as an ideal location from which to commute to New York City via the recently extended and nearby New York Railroad lines. Development companies involved J. B. Thill and Co., and the Milligan Company. Prominent architects, including Lewis Bowman, designed some of the homes. Prior to development, it was farmland and an original farmhouse still stands on Magnolia Avenue.
J.B. Thill and Co. played a prominent role in the development of the area as developers and real estate speculators. Real Estate records and articles from the archives of the New York Times show that the company purchased large tracts of land from the NY Railroad to develop Oakwood Heights and Chester Heights in concert with the expansion of the railroad lines. The company was active from 1899 - 1930 with addresses in Mount Vernon and New York City: 2 Park Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY; 507 Fifth Avenue, New York City; and later at 280 Madison Avenue, New York City. Oakwood Heights had its own station stop at North Columbus Avenue and Washington Street, which functioned until the 1960s. Many homes in the neighborhood were also designed by renown architect Lewis Bowman when he was an architect with Gramatan Homes. Bowman went on to design many landmark homes in nearby Bronxville, NY.
Copy from an undated advertisement for Oakwood Heights reads:
No portion of Westchester County has such a diversity of charm as the Oakwood Heights section of Mount Vernon. It is at once the most convenient and the most picturesque residential park in the suburban zone. These characteristics place it in the forefront of Westchester development.
At Oakwood Heights you have sewers, gas, electric light, cement sidewalks and macadam streets, a residential section that is highly restricted and a business section which, on account of the contour of the land, is entirely set apart from the residential section. You are not required to take a transit line to reach a railroad station, but a step from your door you have an electrified railway to take you to Manhattan's amusements, shopping and business centers in thirty minutes. The farthest point of the property is only six minutes walk from the station.
Never before has any suburban home section beckoned so strongly to the investor, the home-seeker or the businessman as does Oakwood Heights.
A few years ago Mount Vernon, now one of the largest cities of Westchester County, had a population of 2,500. To-day its population is 35,000. Its sanitary conditions are of the best, and according to statistics it shows the lowest death rate in the State.
Mount Vernon's charm lies in the fact that it is primarily a place of residence, and its business interests, although active, are subordinated to the demand of the residents.
We shall be pleased to tell you more about this distinctive home place upon request: Address: J.B. Thill and Co, 2 Park Avenue, Mount Vernon, N.Y.; 507 Fifth Avenue, New York City.