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, September 12, 2005

Pelhamwood Association Celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 1942

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For nearly as long as the beautiful neighborhood known as Pelhamwood (located just north of the Pelham Train Station) has been in existence, there has been a neighborhood association known as the Pelhamwood Association. Founded in May, 1912, the Pelhamwood Association has been an important force in preserving the beauty and vibrancy of the lovely neighborhood.

On Friday, May 15, 1942, the Pelhamwood Association celebrated the 30th anniversary of its founding. The event was marked by a presentation on the history of the Association as well as the performance of an orginal play written by a Pelhamwood resident to commemorate the anniversary. In the midst of the performance Pelham experienced one of numerous planned practice air raid "Blackouts" as World War II raged overseas. A week later The Pelham Sun published detailed articles regarding the celebration. Below is one of those articles.

"New Members Join Pelhamwood Association As It Celebrates The Thirtieth Year Of Its Existence
Entertainment and Dancing at Parish House of Church of Redeemer on Fifth Avenue Featured the Community Organization's Observance. Robert Shaw Recounts History of Pelhamwood.

The auditorium of the Parish House of the Church of the Redeemer was crowded with Pelhamwood residents on Friday evening when the Pelhamwood Association celebrated the 30th year of its existence.

Two charter members, Thomas J. James of Clifford avenue, and Melville Wheeler of New Rochelle were present. Both of them attended the organization meeting held in May, 1912. Mrs. Dwight Wheeler of Storer, widow of a charter member and the first secretary of the association, was also present.

In opening the meeting Pike P. Waldrop, president of the association, said that the committee which arranged the gathering felt that the most joyous celebration could be obtained by featuring 'our most precious possession,' the children of Pelhamwood.

The delightful fantasy, about which a full report appears on another column was then presented. It was written and directed by Agnes Van Cott. Thirty children took part.

Pelhamwood's History

Robert H. Shaw, a member of the association for more than twenty years, gave some interesting observations and memories regarding the accomplishments of the organization, speaking on the topic 'What the Pelhamwood Association Means to Our Community.'

He emphasized the traditions of Pelhamwood as a dignified residential suburb of New York, populated by home-owners appreciative of beautiful surroundings, yet withal easy of access from the big city.

Mr. Shaw went back to 1849 when Richard Lathers of Georgetown, S. C., married Miss Abbie Pitman Thurston of Bond street, New York City. Her father was president of the Exchange Bank of Newport, R. I. Lathers, after his marriage, moved his business to New York. He was a commission merchant dealing in cotton and rice. He acquired 250 acres in West New Rochelle and Pelhamville as North Pelham was then called. He lived in a large house of Tuscany type situated north of the now B. & W. R. R. tracks and east of Storer avenue. The residence burned while occupied by Richard Lathers but some of the fine old trees which surrounded the house still remain. The couple had two sons and four daughters one of whom was educated at Bolton Priory. Mr. and Mrs. Lathers and some of their family are buried in the cemetery surrounding the church at Huguenot and Division street, New Rochelle.

Webster Avenue Opened

Mr. Lathers opened up Webster avenue through his property. He was a great admirer of Daniel Webster having met him in Washington. Afterward he opened up Washington avenue as a means of access from West New Rochelle to Pelhamville. At that time the only way to reach New York City was to drive by stage or carriage to Williamsbridge, where was the terminus of the Harlem River Railroad, which ended at 42nd street.

The Winyah Development Co. then acquired the property for development. The name Winyah came from Winyah Bay, Charleston, S. C., and not from an Indian tribe as often stated.

In 1901 the Winyah Realty Co. took over the development and Smith Brothers Contracting Co. laid out the streets and sewers under the direction of the late Edw. F. Campbell. Its development lagged during the depression of 1907 and in 1908 Clifford B. Harmon, son-in-law of Commodore E. C. Benedict of Greenwich, together with Edward C. Storer, a Boston banker, formed the Pelhamwood Company for high-class development.

Benedict place was named for Commodore Benedict; Harmon and Clifford avenue for Clifford B. Harmon, and Young avenue after George C. Young, president of the U. S. Mortgage & Trust Co., who was the husband of the famous opera singer Mme. Nordica. Storer avenue was named for the Boston banker.

Pelhamwood Co. Takes Charge

In 1912 the Pelhamwood Company turned matters over to the Joseph B. Lambden Agency who sold lots and commenced building.

With many new home owners coming to Pelhamwood each of whom was eager to protect and guide the development of the new home community along definite lines, the Pelhamwood Association came into being in May, 1912. It was organized in the office of the Lambden Agency and later met in the homes of various residents. Its influence has always been for good of the community, for the maintenance of its development along high-class lines, and to see that good schools were provided and clean, tidy, beautiful surroundings maintained. For that purpose a man was engaged to act as special policeman and keep the place in order.

Many famous men have made Pelhamwood their home during the thirty years. Notable newspaper men, publishers, writers, oil men, shipping magnate, artists and musicians found Pelhamwood easy of access and delightful for homes.

Mr. Clifford Johnston, chairman of the membership committee, reported a general interest in the activities of the association on the part of newcomers to the community, shown by the 35 new proposals for membership.

Singing During Blackout

During the blackout the audience was led in singing familiar songs by Wilbur L. Moody of Young avenue and piano music furnished by Miss Doris Willis of Young avenue.

The celebration closed with a social period and dancing at which the past presidents and the Board of Governors of the association acted as a committee to help newcomers get acquainted. Bob Davis of Clifford avenue headed the orchestra, which furnished the music for dancing."

Source: New Members Join Pelhamwood Association As It Celebrates The Thirtieth Year Of Its Existence, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 32, No. 7, May 22, 1942, p. 3, col. 1.

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