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, June 01, 2006

Early Photographs of Chester Park Among Materials Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham

A family selling their home in Chester Park has donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham a wealth of material relating to the history of the Town including what are believed to be the earliest known photographs of the Chester Park area in the Village of Pelham.

The photographs are mounted on stiff cardboard surrounding what appears to be a printed page for a marketing brochure for the Chester Park development. It seems possible that the material was used for marketing purposes at or about the time lots were first being offered in Chester Park. (For those who would like to read about the early history of Chester Park, see Bell, Blake A., History of Chester Park in the Village of Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 46, Nov. 19, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.).

The Chester Park neighborhood is located at the northern tip of Pelham. Tradition says that the neighborhood is named after the 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur.

By 1891, an actuary with the United States Life Insurance Company named William T. Standen and his wife, Elizabeth G. Standen, owned much of the land that became known as Chester Park. The land was located just north of an unincorporated section of the Town of Pelham known as Pelhamville.

Though William Standen worked in the headquarters of United States Life Insurance Company located at 261 Broadway in New York City, he and his wife had a residence on the lands they owned in the Town of Pelham. The home was located north of today’s Pine Avenue between Maple Avenue and Pelhamdale Avenue. By May of 1891, the Standens had decided to subdivide their land and develop it as “Chester Park”. In May and June of that year, the lands were surveyed for the purpose of creating a subdivision map for development purposes.

On August 20, 1891, a development map of Chester Park was filed with Westchester County authorities. At that time, the planned neighborhood extended to the Hutchinson River.

According to an early development map from the files of a New Rochelle real estate brokerage firm, the original plan called for 86 lots, each being at least 100 x 100 feet. In the center of the neighborhood there was a planned “Green” (a park), with a fountain in its center. Lot owners were expected to contribute toward the cost of maintaining the Green and the streets of the new neighborhood.

By deed dated December 7, 1891, title to the lands was transferred to a company apparently controlled by William T. Standen named Pelhamville Land and Homestead Association. There is at least a hint that the Standens may have had longstanding plans to develop their property in this manner. William T. Standen incorporated the Pelhamville Land and Homestead Association nearly five years earlier, on February 15, 1887.

An image of the board containing the Chester Park photographs appears below. While the material looks to be in poor condition with substantial foxing, it is possible to scan and enhance the quality of the images. During the next several days I will provide enhanced images of each of the individual photographs mounted on the Board.

The printed material in the center of the board depicted in the image immediately above reads as follows:


THIS handsome Park is laid out for choice villa sites, and in this respect cannot be excelled by any private residence Park in Westchester County. An unlimited supply of the finest water - free to all residents - is laid on to every lot. The driveways and sidewalks are constructed in the most approved manner; the streets are lighted by lamps specially designed for this Park; the Public Green of nearly two acres is free for the pleasure and recreation of all residents. The restrictions are such as to insure to all who build their homes in Chester Park the very perfection of home life, privacy and comfort. For maps and full particulars apply to

WM. T. STANDEN, 261 Broadway, New York,

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