It all started with ... Alexander & Cornelia Stewart
Alexander Turney Stewart, born in Ireland in 1801, was a merchant by trade. During his time, he was the 6th richest man in the world! A visionary, in 1869 he purchased 7,200 acres of the uninhabited Hempstead Plains, at $55 an acre - the biggest land deal of the century.
His planned community included housing for workers who would build the Village, accomodations for visitors in his first "Grand Hotel," homes of various sizes (the larger homes were nicknamed "Apostle Houses" by the early students at St. Paul's School), an active business district, a municipal water system and two train lines for commuter access to Manhattan.
Following A.T. Stewarts, untimely death in 1876, his wife Cornelia continued to fulfill his vision, with the commissioning and erection of a house of worship - the Cathedral of Incarnation, which became the Seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. She also built the Bishop's House and Deanery, and education facilities: the Cathedral Schools of St. Mary (for girls) and St. Paul (for boys). A recreation center (the Casino) was built for residents and weekend visitors. Through her efforts with the diocese, she guaranteed Garden City would continue to become a vital, thriving town.
Alexander and Cornelia Stewart financed all the building and building with their own money!