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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ceremony in 1915 to Open Bartow-Pell Mansion as Headquarters of International Garden Club Marred by Tragedy

On May 1, 1915, the Bartow-Pell Mansion in Pelham Bay Park was officially turned over to the International Garden Club. New York Governor Charles S. Whitman attended the ceremony to take part in replacing the Pell Treaty Oak on the grounds of the mansion. The ceremony, however, was marred by tragedy. Below is the account that appeared in The New York Times the following day.

Bartow Mansion in Pelham Bay Park Turned Over to the International Garden Club
Private Charles Vail of Battery D Is Crushed by Horse Frightened by a Salute.

When the first gun of a nineteen-gun salute for Gov. Whitman was fired at the International Garden Club at the Bartow Mansion, Pelham Bay Park, yesterday afternoon, a troop horse reared and fell back, crushing Charles Vail, a private in Battery Day. The guardsman, with a fractured skull and probably mortal injuries, was rushed to the Fordham Hospital. Vail was standing at the head of a horse attached to a caisson wagon. As the first fun boomed out, the animal reared straight up, and, descending, struck him on the head with its hoofs and trampled on his body as he lay helpless on the ground.

Gov. Whitman came down from Albany to be present at the opening and to take part in the replacing of the Treaty Oak in the grounds of the clubhouse, and the officers of the International Garden Club sent out many invitations to view the ceremony, meet the Governor, and have tea in the historic Bartow mansion. The city turned over the house to the club with seventeen acres of wooded ground surrounding it, without rental. In return the club has put the house, which was sadly in need of it, in good repair, furnished it, and laid out the grounds, which are to be transformed by gardens. Mrs. Charles Frederick Hoffman is President of the club, Dr. George Norton Miller, Vice President; Mrs. H. de Berkeley Parsons, Secretary, and William A. Jay is the Treasurer.

Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, Honorary President of the club, made the speech of the day, and greeted the Governor, who arrived at 4 o'clock, accompanied by two aids [sic] ablaze with gold. After the ceremonies attending the planting of the oak, the Governor visited the clubhouse and had tea. He left a little before 5 o'clock.  

In the evening the Governor attended a dinner, given for him and Mr. Whitman by Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Hoffman, at their residence, 620 Fifth Avenue. The rest of the day, however, he spent on the thirty-day bills, and received no callers except Bainbridge Colby, an old college friend. On May 26 the Governor will start for California, and his Military Secretary, Major J. Stanley Moore, is now working out his iternerary [sic].  

A walk marked by many little red flags showed the way from the clubhouse to the roped-in inclosure, in which the speeches and the planting took place, and ropes marked with red flags indicated the parking space for the many motors. Tea and other refreshments were were served in the Colonial dining room and on the veranda and terrace outside.

The oak planted yesterday took the place of the famous treaty oak recently destroyed by lightning [sic], which was planted in 1643 [sic] when the Pell family obtained frm the Indians the property on which Bartow Manor stands for $17 [sic].

Dr. Butler outlined the history of the tree, and said the city had now turned the ground over to the International Garden Club to be made into a breathing spot for the people. The club, whose headquarters will be in the Manor house, has already spent $25,000 in improvements.

The Governor used a silver trowel in planting the tree, and said that the new treaty between the city and the public was more important than the orginal one. The exercises also marked the turning over of the property to the club's use.

Bartow Mansion is a substantial and roomy stone house, and the front lawn is one of several acres. In the rear the ground slopes away to the Sound, and a series of descending terraces has been arranged. In the center of the middle terrace is a large fountain.  

On either side are tall old trees, and a wide veranda taken in the entire back of the house. On this and the upper terrace many pale-green tables, with lattice chairs to match, are placed. At the right of the house is a large conservatory, done entirely in white and pale, dull green. As yet few flowers are seen, but some rare orchids were on view yesterday, and outside the trracs [sic] showed some old-time gardens in pansies and primorses [sic].  

The walls throughout are done in palest dull blue and the woodwork in dull finished white. Each room is in a different color. One upstairs room is done in the most vivid colors in old-time chintz, with flowers of many kinds. Another is done in black and white stripes, with an occasional flower, and pink roses abound in another. A reception room on the first floor is done in brownish orange, with old-time black wooden plaques, and another room is in deep blue.  

Mrs. Hoffman, the President; Mrs. Parsons, the Secretary, and others received, and the official receiving committee included the President of the Board of Aldermen.

Commissioners of Parks for the Bronx and Manhattan and Richmond, the President of the Botanical Garden, the President of the New York Horticultural Society, the President of the Florists's [sic] Club of New York. On the committee also were Mrs. C. B. Alexander, Mrs. A. B. Boardman, Mrs. Amory S. Carhart, Mrs. Alfred Ely, Miss Sarah Cooper Hewitt, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver J. Jennings, Mr. and Mrs. F. K. Pendleton, Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Parsons, Mrs. Moses Taylor Pyne, Mrs. James Speyer, Mrs. Charles H. Senff, Miss Amy Townsend, Mrs. H. McK Twombly, Mrs. John Hobart Warren, Mrs. J. J. Wysong, Mrs. Newbold LeRoy Edgar, Mrs. J. Archibald Murray, Mr. and Mrs. John Callender Livingston and William Adams Delano.  

Among others who were present to receive or as guests were Mr. and Mrs. Stuyvesant Fish, Bishop David H. Greer, Mr. and Mrs. Seth Low, Mrs. Herbert C. PYell [sic], Mrs. Herbert L. Satterlee, Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Taft, Mrs. Whitney Warren, Mr. and Mrs. James B. Clews, Mr. and Mrs. F. Ashton de Peyster, Mrs. Lewis Cruger Hassell, Mrs. George B. de Forest, Mrs. Burke Roche, Mrs. Lauterbach, Mrs. Nicholas Murray Butler, the Misses Catherine and Margaret Leverich, Mrs. Gouverneur Kortwright, Mrs. E. Reeve Merritt, Lady Herbert, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert C. Pell, Mrs. Oakleigh Thorne, George I. Rives, John D. Crimmins, Frederick C. Bourne, Miss Eleanor Hewitt, Mrs. James O. Green, A. M. Bagby, and Mrs. Henry S. Redmond."

Source:  Governor Plants A New Treaty Oak, N.Y. Times, May 2, 1915, p. 14, col. 1 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

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