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, November 16, 2005

New Theory Regarding Identity of the Architect of the Pelham Picture House Built in 1921

For the last several years, a small army of people has been feverishly researching the history of The Pelham Picture House located at 175 Wolfs Lane in the Village of Pelham. The Pelham Picture House is believed to be the last single screen movie theater showing first run films in Westchester County. The theater opened in 1921 and still stands. To read more about The Pelham Picture House, see the November 9, 2005 posting to the Historic Pelham Blog entitled "The Historic Pelham Picture House at 175 Wolfs Lane in Pelham, New York".

So far, the identity of the architect who designed the fascinating building is unknown. However, recent investigation by Barbara Bartlett suggests one lead that a number of people are now investigating. In an email dated November 15, 2005, she has informed me that "Mary Huber, Bronxville Historian, says she remembers seeing something about Penrose Stout with a picture of the building leading her to remember that he was the architect." A photograph of Penrose Vass Stout appears immediately below.

Penrose V. Stout was born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1887 and died in Boston, Massachusetts on October 24, 1934. He graduated from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute at Auburn in 1909 with a B.S. in architecture. According to an obituary, his "early practice was in Pensacola, Florida and in New York City until the beginning of World War I". He achieved a notable record in the Air Service in France and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. According to the citation awarded him:

"While engaged in a solitary patrol of the enemy lines, Lieutenant Stout attacked an artillery regulating machine. He was almost immediately attacked by five enemy plans and subjected to infantry and anti-aircraft fire, but fearlessly continued the unequal fight until his machine guns were broken and he was shot through the should and lung."

See Penrose V. Stout, Architect, Dead, N.Y. Times, Oct. 26, 1934, p. 21. After the war Stout practiced architecture in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and New York, designing many homes in Westchester County, particularly Bronxville. Among his work on the National Register of Historic Places is:Green Pastures (added 2002 - Fauquier County, VA - #02000596) 2337 Zulla Rd., Middleburg (2361 acres, 13 buildings).

It is possible that at about the time The Pelham Picture House was built in 1921, Penrose Stout was working in New York for Harry Lindeberg. Lindeberg designed country estates for the wealthy.

Because Stout lived in Bronxville, New York for a few years and designed homes and other structures located in Bronxville, there is an excellent discussion of his life and career on the Village of Bronxville Web site. See Bronxville, Prominent Village Architects - Penrose Stout (visited Nov. 16, 2005).

Mary Huber of Bronxville reportedly recalls seeing at one time a photograph of Penrose Stout and The Pelham Picture House. Research indicates that there is a rare and difficult to locate book that collects information about the work of Penrose Stout. A citation appears immediately below:

A MONOGRAPH OF THE RECENT WORK OF PENROSE V. STOUT, ARCHITECT (New York: Privately Printed, 1928) (102 pp.).

I suspect that this book may include information about The Pelham Picture House and may even be the source of Ms. Huber's recollection that she has seen a photograph of Penrose Stout and The Pelham Picture House. Efforts are now underway by a number of people to locate a copy of the monograph.

For now, the best that can be said is that there is at least a possibility that Penrose Vass Stout was the architect of The Pelham Picture House. Hopefully the Historic Pelham Blog soon will include a posting confirming what is -- for now -- merely a theory.

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