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.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Martha Emmons Weihman Memorial Park in Pelham Manor: Origins of the Idea to Create A Park

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Regular readers of the Historic Pelham Blog know that I often post the equivalent of my research notes as I work on particular projects. Recently I have been doing research on the history of the Martha Emmons Weihman Memorial Park located on the Esplanade at Boston Post Road behind Huguenot Memorial Church. I have been doing the research to assist The Junior League of Pelham, Inc. That organization is engaged in an effort to raise approximately $200,000 to restore the park. Recent postings on the topic include:

Thu. June 2, 2005: Obituary of Martha Emmons Weihman From The Pelham Sun, August 16, 1940

Tue. May 24, 2005: Clifford and Martha Weihman of Pelham (Part I of II)

Wed. May 25, 2005: Clifford and Martha Weihman of Pelham (Part II of II)

Tue. May 31, 2005: The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part I of II)

Wed. Jun. 1, 2005: The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part II of II)

Over the weekend I located an interesting article from the October 4, 1940 issue of The Pelham Sun. The article constitutes the first mention in the extant record that the area on which the Reynolds Mansion stood was being considered for a park. According to the article, shortly after the fire, the Village of Pelham Manor feared that the site -- zoned for apartment houses -- was the only site left in the zoned area where a large apartment house could be built. Thus, the Village decided to raise $15,000 through issuance of bonds to fund acquisition of the property. The article appears below, in its entirety.




Site of Apartment House Which was Gutted by Fire is at Edge of Multifamily Area.


With a view toward eliminating what is termed as the most serious threat against the Zoning Ordinance, the Village of Pelham Manor is negotiating for the purchase of Boston Road Frontage at the Esplanade, one of two remaining sites in the residential area on which apartment buildings may be erected. The property, on the southeasterly corner of the Esplanade and the Boston Road is the site of a frame apartment building that was gutted by a spectacular fire on the night of June 6. The building was more than two-thirds destroyed, and the village officials insisted that the remainder of the structure be torn down. The work of demolition is well under way.

Mayor Edmund C. Gause is authority for the statement that the sale of the property to the village at a cost of $15,000 is in the process of negotiation. It is expected that title will pass to the village in the next few weeks. The property is owned by the Bowery Bank, which took it over in foreclosure of a mortgage.

Mayor Gause told The Pelham Sun that the purchase price of the property will be financed by a bond issue, which will be floated before the end of the year.

‘The board of trustees saw fit to purchase this property to make sure that it will never be used for the construction of an apartment house,’ Mayor Gause told The Pelham Sun yesterday. ‘It is on the easterly edge of the apartment house zone, and adjacent to the Huguenot Memorial Church, and remains one of the last threats against the zoning ordinance in the village.’

Mayor Gause said it is his purpose to develop the property as a park by attractive landscaping. He indicated that the northeasterly corner of the Esplanade and the Boston Post Road is the other remaining threat against the zoning ordinance. ‘No attempt has been made to develop this tract yet,’ he said.

The three-story apartment building on the site to be purchased by the village was formerly one of Pelham Manor’s most striking residential mansions. More than 20 years ago it was converted into an apart-house. At the time of the fire there were nine families residing there. The blaze which gutted the two upper floors was started by an electric iron. Most of the tenants were out of the building at the time of the fire.”

Source: Village Will Buy Apartment Site To Avoid Zone Threat, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 30, No. 28, Oct. 4, 1940, p. 1, col. 6.

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