Growing Up on Hallowed Ground

0:00 The McCooey Clan, from left: Kevin, Tim, Mary Catherine, Mary, Bob, Mark, and Michael An 1888 red barn that has been on the property […]

Published March 26, 2021 12:06 AM
3 min read


The McCooey Clan, from left: Kevin, Tim, Mary Catherine, Mary, Bob, Mark, and Michael

An 1888 red barn that has been on the property since it was farmland.

Golfers on one of the two 18-hole courses designed by Henry Travis braving a cold day in March.

The sole house for sale on the Westchester Country Club grounds.

By Robin Jovanovich

Oh, to be a McCooey, a Raho, a Mara, or any of the other lucky kids who grew up in one of the 124 homes on the grounds of Westchester Country Club. Fifteen to twenty of those homes are still in the same family.

Michael McCooey was one of six kids. He and all but one of his siblings moved back as adults. “Our mother Mary, who lives in an apartment in the club, is over the moon to be a short walk from five of her children. And when we’re not available, one of her sisters is in the next-door apartment and another down the street!”

As kids, all the McCooey sons were paper boys. “The only thing we didn’t like were the dogs who chased us,” recalled Michael. “They didn’t have invisible fencing in those days.

When the Westchester Golf Classic was on, the McCooey children would set up lemonade stands and do a brisk business.

“Our family, like most, took evening walks together,” said Michael. “The kids would find golf balls, and one night we set a record of 22.” He added that he’s never had to buy a new golf ball in his life!

On our hour-walk loop around the grounds last weekend, we learned who lived where over the decades — opera singer Marta Eggerth, photographer Jules Alexander, and more — as well as the history of the 19th-century barn that’s still standing.

Some club members thought it should be torn down because it was in such bad repair, but many others thought it should be restored and remain as a vestige of the farmland the property once was. A plaque was installed in 1997 on the side of the barn with a list of names of those who helped raise funds and support for the restoration; Michael McCooey’s name is one of them.

Probably no one knows more about the houses that are on the grounds than Michael, who is a local realtor. The sad news for homebuyers is that there is currently only one house for sale; in the past few months Michael sold four.

From his house, he has an enviable view — overlooking ten holes. But what thrills him more is living close to family, friends he made in childhood, and the continuation of the moveable feasts that were part of his youth.

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