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.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Brief History of the Development and Unveiling of Parkway Field in 1955 -- Known Today as Glover Field

  • "May the activities on this field promote courage, self-reliance, fair play, spirited competition, good sportsmanship, and physical fitness for all who participate here.  May such activities help to develop the highest qualities of American citizenship in the youth of today and tomorrow."

    Dedication Brochure for "Parkway Field" -- Today's "Glover Field" -- October 15, 1955.

The image immediately above is taken from the first page of the program issued on the occasion of the dedication of "Parkway Field" -- today's "Glover Field" -- on October 15, 1955.

The field known today as "Glover Field" took many years -- and one failed school bond vote -- to build.  When first created, the field was known as Parkway Field.  It stood next to the Hutchinson River Parkway.  At the time, the field stood near the Hutchinson River Parkway toll booths.  Tens of thousands of drivers each year tried to avoid the tolls on the Parkway by driving through the streets of Pelham.  (Consequently, Pelham residents detested the Hutchinson River Parkway.)

The story of today's Glover Field is not quite as pretty or romantic as one might hope.  For decades, sewerage was collected, processed and treated in the area and then passed into Eastchester Creek (known as the Hutchinson River).  Over time, the large, rocky area became known as "Stink Field".  One can only imagine why.

Originally, Pelham Memorial High School had a spectacular set of athletic fields on its grounds.  However, as the Town's population (and families' educational objectives) grew, the original high school building became entirely inadequate.  By 1935, additions to the original High School complex required the School Board to cannibalize the athletic fields.  Thereafter, the High School had no varsity sports fields whatsoever as the Great Depression roared. 

For years, Pelham varsity teams played most games "away".  Occasionally, they played "home" games.  (That meant that they played on fields in Mount Vernon.)  Additionally, varsity teams had to practice in Mount Vernon.

The Board of Education seems to have realized the gravity of the situation before the Town's general population.  After years of trying to find, develop and support facilities that were inadequate for the Town's varsity athletes, the Board of Education came up with a plan that might seem surprising today.  The Board decided to propose a bond issuance to support the construction of a massive sports complex on the grounds of the Prospect Hill Elementary School in Pelham Manor. 

The proposal proved to be a lightning rod.  Town residents split into two rival camps and the bond referendum was easily defeated.  As one reference puts it, however, the defeat of the referendum "paradoxically proved to be the springboard for eventual success".  The School Board regrouped and made another effort.  

To its credit, the Board decided to reach out to the entire community -- well beyond those interested only in athletics.  The School Board developed a "Citizens' Advisory Committee".  That Committee included  at least a handful of representatives of each of the following Town organizations:  American Legion, Board of Trade, Boy Scouts, Citizens' Committee, Daughters of the American Revolution, Girl Scouts, Junior League, Junior Section of the Manor Club, League of Women Voters, Lions Club, Manor Club, Men's Club, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Pelham Manor Association, Pelhamwood Association, Realty Board, Recreation Commission, the School Board, School Board Executive Committee, Rotary Club, Town Board, Representatives of the Public Schools, Members at Large, and others.  Members of those groups, of course, reached out to family, friends and colleagues. 

With the weight of so many members of the community behind it, the School Board offered another bond proposal for vote on October 29, 1953.  The largest number of Pelham taxpayers up to that time voted on the referendum and endorsed the bond proposal by an overwhelming 6 to 1 margin.  The referendum authorized $350,000 to develop an athletic complex out of an area once described as a "barren, hilly strip of land with a 'field' which exuded rocks and broken glass -- a 'field' which became a swamp after heavy rains".

For the next two years, the School Board worked feverishly to plan and construct what was then considered to be a world-class athletic facility.  Perhaps most importantly, thousands and thousands of hours of labor were donated -- free of charge -- by Pelham citizens considered at the time to be true experts in their fields of athletics, construction, bureaucratics, lobbying, finances, accounting and more. 

The effort was amazingly successful.  At the successful conclusion of the community's massive project, the 16-1/2 acre facility included:  (1) a regulation, varsity football field; (2) a regulation, quarter-mile cinder track plus facilities for field events; (3) a standard baseball diamond; (4) a softball field; (5) four tennis courts; (6) practice fields for football and other sports; (6) a "playfield for smaller children"; (7) a 3-1/2 acre wooded picnic area; (8) a parking area; and (9) a state-of-the-art field house. 

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