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.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Reunion of Alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls

During the late 1880s, The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York had a star teacher. Her name was Emily Hall Hazen. A few Pelham Manor landowners coveted the teacher’s talents and experience. They still were trying to develop the remnants of the subdivision planned by the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association founded in the early 1870s.

To attract “upper class buyers”, a Pelham Manor landowner named Silas H. Witherbee recruited Mrs. Hazen to open a girl’s preparatory school in Pelham Manor. According to one account, “although Mrs. Hazen was urged to locate elsewhere, she yielded to the persuasion and promise of support given by the residents of Pelham Manor.” In 1889 the little school opened, only to become one of the finest girls’ schools in the country before it closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year.

On Saturday, January 23, 1943, a group of alumnae of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls (also known as "Pelham Hall") gathered at the home of Mrs. Abbott Geer on Clay Avenue. They held a reunion. Mrs. Geer graduated from the school in 1911. An account of the reunion appeared in the January 29, 1943 issue of The Pelham Sun. The account provides a helpful list of the participants as well as a brief description of some of the traditions they recalled from their days at Pelham Hall.

According to the article, besides the hostess of the reunion, the following alumnae attended: Eleanor Jacob Randall, Phoebe Randall Radcliffe, Harriett Duncan Gillett King (all from Pelham); Peggy Ferris Mans (Scarsdale); Marian Hoyle Powers (Rye); Emeroy Seymour Burton (New Canaan); Sophie Young Hubbell (Garden City); Grace Reynolds Adams (New Rochelle); and Esther Norton Soule, Katherine Seymour and Elizabeth Eyre de Lanoux of New York City.

Regarding senior traditions at Pelham Hall, the account of the reunion noted:

"At the luncheon on Saturday the former pupils grew sentimental as they recalled the traditions observed at Commencement time. There was the planting of the ivy by the departing seniors. Most touching of all was the singing on Commencement Day. Familiar old hymns with new tunes were sung in four parts. Composed by their own Professor Jacoby, these tunes today remain as a creation of old Pelham Hall. In solemn procession, the Seniors in their white caps and gowns, led the entire school, way down to the smallest girls, out onto the porch. Back through the open windows could be heard the echoes of their voices singing 'On Our Way Rejoicing.'"

The account of the reunion may be found at: Call Reunion Of Pupils Of Mrs. Hazen's School, The Pelham Sun, Vol. 32, No. 43, Jan. 29, 1943, p. 8, col. 7. For those who may want to learn more about the history of Mrs. Hazen's School, see Bell, Blake A., Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls: Pelham Hall, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 40, Oct. 1, 2004, p. 12, col. 1.

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