Westchester County

Edwin Michaelian

Edwin Gilbert Michaelian

Edwin Michaelian, Westchester County Executive, 1958-1973

Edwin Gilbert Michaelian became the fourth county executive serving from 1958 to 1973.

Mr. Michaelian brought a new perspective to the office of county executive and was identified with much of the county's postwar growth. He often served as spokesman for the suburbs in Albany and Washington on such issues as commuter railroads and federal aid sharing to localities. During his administration, the new county courthouse was built in the urban renewal area on Grove Street in White Plains. Several large corporations were attracted to Westchester, such as IBM, Nestle, PepsiCo, Texaco, AT&T, as well as smaller companies and retail stores. Westchester Community College was moved to the new Valhalla campus. SUNY- Purchase, specializing in fine arts and drama, was established. His plans for a new Westchester Medical Center at Grasslands were approved. During his 16-year tenure the county acquired some 4,000 acres of parkland. It purchased Muscoot Park in Somers for a model restoration farm, added to Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, built a sportsmen's center at Blue Mountain Park in Cortlandt, and acquired 120 acres from the Devereux family in Rye for conservancy purposes as well as the John Jay Homestead in Katonah and land around the Kensico and Croton Dam Plazas. The large Sprain Ridge Swimming Pool Complex was opened during 1971. He established the first sales tax for county government in 1972.

Mr. Michaelian, a native New Yorker of Armenian ancestry, was born in 1906. The family moved to White Plains in 1913. After graduating from Yale and achieving Phi Beta Kappa membership, he worked as a salesman and became a successful businessman. Mr. Michaelian's public service started in 1939 as White Plains councilman, included military service as a naval officer in World War II from 1943 to 1945, and then mayor of White Plains from 1950-1957. He became known as Mr. Republican who spent a lifetime in politics, though a non-lawyer. After his retirement he helped found and direct the Institute of Sub/Urban Governance at Pace University. Mr. Michaelian died of a heart attack on Sept. 9, 1983.

The county office building at 148 Martine Avenue was renamed the Edwin G. Michaelian County Office Building.