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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The New York Athletic Club Saved a Portion of the Kemble House Property on Shore Road in the 1920s

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During the late 1920s, the City of New Rochelle decided to widen Pelham Road (known as Shore Road within the Town of Pelham). To widen the road, Westchester County and New Rochelle decided to arrange the exercise of eminent domain to take a large strip of land in front of the Kemble House, one of Pelham Manor's only two pre-Revolutionary War homes that still stand. The Kemble House -- so-called because it long was owned by members of the Kemble family in the 19th and 20th centuries -- was a Pell family structure built in about 1760 along Long Island Sound. The home and the property on which it sits lies half in Pelham and half in New Rochelle.

The Kemble House is located at 145 Shore Road in Pelham Manor. It stands adjacent to, and immediately north of, Manor Texaco near the intersection of Pelhamdale Avenue and Shore Road.

The decision to take land from in front of the home caused an outcry among historically-minded citizens of Pelham. A fight ensued. Finally, the New York Athletic Club (which owned land on the opposite side of the roadway across from the Kemble house) stepped forward to quell the outcry. It donated a strip of realty on the east side of the roadway to save the land belonging to the Kemble House. Today's Blog posting will set forth a few of the articles that appeared at the time describing developments related to the matter.



Westchester Residents Stirred by Plan to Seize Land for Road.
Special to The New York Times.

NEW ROCHELL, N. Y., June 18. - Agitation to prevent Westchester County and the City of New Rochelle from taking a large strip of land from in front of the old Pell mansion at the Pelham Manor - New Rochelle boundary line to widen Pelham Road, continued in this city and the Town of Pelham today. Petitions were drawn up to be presented to the county authorities asking to have the course of the road changed.

The Pell mansion, now the home of Mrs. Richard Kemble, lies half in New Rochelle and half in Pelham Manor, taxes on the property being paid to both municipalities. The building and land are part of the holdings of the Pell family, who settled here in the early Colonial days.

Patrick J. Rooney, an attorney of this city, on behalf of residents, has asked that the work be held up until some compromise can be reached to 'save this beautiful old landmark from destruction.'

Court action to prevent the seizure of the land is threatened by Mrs. Kemble."

Source: Fight For Pell Mansion, N.Y. Times, Jun. 19, 1927, p. 15.



Objections Made to Taking Land for New Rochelle Project.
Special to The New York Times.

PELHAM MANOR, N. Y., June 16. - New Rochelle city officials were told today that if they persisted in carrying out their plans to widen the Pelham Shore Road and take land from in front of the old Pell Mansion for that purpose, legal steps would be taken to contest such action and no cooperation would be given their plan by officials of the town of Pelham Manor."

Source: Pell Mansion Dispute, N.Y. Times, Jun. 17, 1927, p. 27.

"Act to Widen Pelham Road.
Special to The New York Times.

WHITE PLAINS, N. Y., Aug. 28. - With the appointment by Supreme Court Justice Taylor this week of three Commissioners of Appraisal, the city of New Rochelle will begin the work of widening Pelham Road from Pelham Manor to the Larchmont line, at a cost of $1,000,000. Real estate men will testify before the Commissioners as to the value of the land necessary to widen the thoroughfare to sixty feet."

Source: Act to Widen Pelham Road, N.Y. Times, Aug. 29, 1927, p. 19.

"Historical Landmark Spared By Change In Course Of Shore Road


New Rochelle Agrees To Accept New York Athletic Cloub Land To Avoid Sacrifice Of Kemble Property


Due to the firm stand of the Pelham Manor Village Board in refusing to allow the historic Kemble property to be sacrificed in the reconstruction of the Shore Rd., the City of New Rochelle has consented to change the course of the proposed roadway. Communication was received at the meeting of the Pelham Manor Board Monday night in which it was announced that but a small portion of the Kemble property would be taken under the new plan. The New York Athletic Club has consented to dedicate sufficient land on the opposite side of the road to allow for the highway.

The Kemble property on which is situated one of the oldest houses in the Pelhams around which much historical lore is woven, is located on the boundary line of the village. Part of the property lies within the city of New Rochelle. Last Spring the New Rochelle officials announced that the Shore road was to be widened and straightened at the Pelham Manor boundary. Such improvement it was announced would necessitate the condemnation of a large section of the spacious lawns of the Kemble property and would bring the new highway within fifteen feet of the historic mansion.

This announcement aroused strong sentiment in the Pelhams. The village officials were asked to protest against a disturbance of the historical property. When New Rochelle asked Pelham Manor to join in the widening plan, the Trustees flatly refused to continue the new highway on its proposed course. Thus New Rochelle was blocked in the move.

Through the efforts of public spirited citizens an amicable settlement has been reached whereby a new course was mapped out for the highway. This new course will only take six feet of the Kemble property. Monday night, the Manor Trustees approved the plan."

Source: Historical Landmark Spared By Change In Course Of Shore Road, The Pelham Sun, Feb. 3, 1928.

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