Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road

In 1872, representatives of the New York Times began the summer "Fresh-Air Fund" program "to relieve the children in the crowded tenement districts [of New York City] in the heated term by day excursions to the country". See Fresh Air for the Sick, N.Y. Times, Sep. 1, 1890, p. 8. During the next few decades, the fresh-air fund was embraced and extended by churches, societies and public-spirited citizens throughout the region.

In 1888, a group of Pelham residents organized "The Pelham Home for Children" as a summer home for New York City's underprivileged children. The home began as part of the Fresh Air Fund program. Pelham citizens reportedly raised money and purchased a portion of the Prevost Farm where "The Shrubbery" once stood near Split Rock Road where it intersects with the Boston Post Road.

On June 16, 1898 the Pelham Summer Home for Children was formally incorporated and the program opened in a new building nearby in 1900. According to Lockwood Barr's history of Pelham published in 1946:

"On May 10, 1921 the name was changed to The Pelham Home for Children, Inc.

[Beginning in] 1915, the Home . . . specialized in the care of convalescent children suffering from heart trouble. It was the first cardiac [convalescent] home in the country and for many years the only such place for the care of cardiac children. It [ranked] as one of the outstanding institutions of its kind. The capacity of the Home [was] thirty children. The patients [were] girls between the ages of six and sixteen years, sent for observation by the clinics of the large hospitals in New York City, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Yonkers. The Board of Education of the City of New York maintain[ed] a day school in the Home.

For many years the Home [was] associated with the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre, during which time much investigation work on cause and cure of acute rheumatic fever [was] done. The consulting staff of doctors [included] many of the outstanding cardiac specialists of New York. The visiting staff consist[ed] of a group of Westchester County physicians who donate[d] their services."

Source: Barr, Lockwood, A Brief, But Most Complete & True Account of the Settlement of the Ancient Town of Pelham Westchester County, State of New York Known One Time Well & Favourably as The Lordshipp & Mannour of Pelham Also the Story of the Three Modern Villages Called the Pelhams, pp. 163-64 (Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, Inc. 1946).

The Home was maintained by voluntary contributions, raised by the women, until 1931, when the Pelham Community Chest was organized, which . . . assumed the responsibility of raising the funds for its maintenance."

A post card view of the Pelham Summer Home showing the structure in about 1908 appears immediately below.


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