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.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Area Planned for Development by The Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873

Most residents of the Village of Pelham Manor in the Town of Pelham, New York know that portions of the Village were developed by a group of men who established an association named the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association in 1873. Most, however, do not realize the extent of the lands in Pelham originally planned for inclusion in that development -- approximately 500 acres extending from today's Shore Road all the way to what was then called the Pelhamville Station on the main New Haven railroad line in today's Village of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham Blog posting will provide a little information about the extent of the lands encompassed by the original development plans of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association.

It appears that the principals of the Association intended to develop two broad areas consisting of at least three distinct neighborhoods. At least one early map shows the area south of today’s Boston Post Road labeled as “Pelham Manor” while the area north of the roadway extending to the New Haven Line railroad tracks was labeled “Huguenot Heights” – hence, the “Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association”. See Pelham Manor And Huguenot Heights Association, The Daily Graphic [New York], Jun. 12, 1874, p. 785 (full page advertisement).

Another early map of the planned development suggests plans to divide portions of the two principal areas into three subdivisions: the “Chestnut Grove Division”, the “Glen Mitchill Division” and the “Pleasant Ridge Division”. See Map of Three Divisions of Lands of the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Pelham, Westchester Co. NY (photostatic copy in the collection of The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham).

Clearly members of the Association intended to develop additional subdivisions later since these three did not encompass any of the Association’s lands extending from the branch line railroad tracks to the Long Island Sound. Nor did these three subdivision encompass lands near the main New Haven Line railroad tracks.

Immediately below is a detail from a map of the planned development published as part of an advertisement that appeared in the June 12, 1874 issue of The Daily Graphic, a New York City newspaper. (Note the reference to the "NEW CITY ON THE SOUND" reflected at the bottom of the detail.) I have added two numbered arrows (1 & 2) to denote lands not commonly thought of as included within the original plans for the development by the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association. Arrow 1 points to lands north of today's Colonial Avenue that were encompassed within the planned development. Arrow 2 points to lands east of the so-called "branch line" railroad tracks. That area, today, includes such areas as Manor Circle, Beech Tree Lane and portions of Pelham Bay Park following the old boulder lined roadway that once led from Hunter's Island to today's Boston Post Road.

The Chestnut Grove Division extended from the branch line railroad tracks to today’s Boston Post Road. It included lots on the south side of Boston Post Road and on both sides of the following streets: Highland Avenue, Prospect Avenue, Edgewood Avenue, Esplanade and Pelhamdale Avenue. Id.

The Association focused first on the Chestnut Grove Division. Interestingly, initially all the land between Pelhamdale Avenue and Esplanade extending from today’s Black Street to today’s New England Thruway sound barrier was designated as the site of a major hotel complex planned for the lands right in front of the Pelham Manor Depot. Id. That complex, of course, was never built.

The boundaries of the remaining two subdivisions are a little harder to place. The planned street names were never implemented.

The Glen Mitchill Division was planned for the area from just west of the Boston Post Road to today’s Colonial Avenue. It included lots on the east side of Pelhamdale Avenue and extended westward to an area near today’s Fowler Avenue. The Pleasant Ridge Division was planned for a portion of what we know today as the Heights. It was planned for the area from today’s Colonial Avenue to an area just north of today’s Boulevard. It was bounded on the west by Wolfs Lane and extended eastward to an area just east of today’s Cliff Avenue. Id. Lands north of the planned Pleasant Ridge Division, like those east of the branch line railroad tracks, were not included in the original map of the three planned subdivisions. Apparently they were to be developed at some point after the three central subdivisions.

The Association failed in 1876 in the midst of a major financial depression that followed the financial panic of 1873. The only neighborhood in which any development occurred under the aegis of the Association was the Chestnut Grove Division.

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