John McEntee Bowman

King-Merritt History

King-Merritt was founded in 1951 on a portion of the estate owned by the former John McEntee Bowman. The size of the original estate was 331 acres. It covered part of Rye Brook and ran all the way through to what is now Baliwick Road. The Bowman estate was called “Stonehedge” because of the many stone walls in the area. The original Bowman mansion has changed over the years. It has been scaled down somewhat but still remains, appropriately enough, on Mansion Place.

John McEntee Bowman was president of Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corporation, which operated the Biltmore, Belmont, Commodore, and Murray Hill in New York City; and additional Biltmore hotels in Atlanta, Belleair, Dayton, Havana, Los Angeles, Miami, Providence, Santa Barbara, and Wilmington.

Bowman also founded the Westchester Country Club in Rye NY, which was originally called the Westchester-Biltmore Country Club when it opened in 1922. The "Biltmore" was dropped from its name after its members purchased the club from Bowman in 1929. There is however one artifact from these origins that remains to this day - the club's address is still 99 Biltmore Avenue.

John Bowman died in 1931, and his estate went up for sale nineteen years later. Real estate prices in 1950 weren’t what they are today. The asking price for the complete 331 acre estate was $176,000. To sell the estate, an auction was held but there were no bidders. Afterwards, a 182.844 acre parcel, that is now part of King-Merritt Community Inc., sold for $65,000.

There were only three streets when King-Merritt was first developed: Bowman, Stonehedge and Blind Brook. More property was purchased throughout the 1960s and additional streets were developed to expand the community. Not only were houses going up, but part of the development process was improving and enlarging the ponds in the neighborhood. Aren’t we glad they did!

Wildlife is still present in the community. Deer, fox, coyote, raccoons and opossums can be spotted throughout the year. When King-Merritt was first developed, however, the wildlife was much more abundant. There were several herds of 8 or more deer frequently roaming the neighborhood, and there were many more sightings of the other wildlife.

Always a family community, "back in the day" there used to be a King-Merritt annual dinner dance, a bowling league and baseball teams from the different streets. The King-Merritt association continued the tradition with the 2007 Block Party, which over 260 residents attended.

Stonehedge - the colonial mansion built by John McEntee Bowman, president of the Bowman-Biltmore chain of hotels.