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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hawkswood, Also Known as the Marshall Mansion, Colonial Hotel and Colonial Inn, Once Stood in Pelham Near City Island

During much of its storied history, the Town of Pelham was the site of many grand country estates built by wealthy New Yorkers seeking respite from the nearby metropolis of New York City.  For example, Hunters Mansion, on Hunters Island, was considered one of the grandest mansions in the United States where John Hunter maintained one of the nation's finest private art collections and entertained illustrious guests including President Martin Van Buren.  Other such showplace mansions included the Bartow-Pell Mansion, the Ogden Mansion, the De Lancey Mansion (also known as Greystones), and the subject of today's Historic Pelham Blog Posting:  Hawkswood (also known as the Marshall Mansion, Colonial Hotel, and the Colonial Inn).  

Hawkswood was built in the 19th century by Elisha W. King.  King was a successful and wealthy New York City lawyer who practiced with Peter W. Radcliff in a law office at 27 Beekman Street in Manhattan.  King also served as a City Alderman for more than twenty years.  See Special Meeting - Board of Assistant Alderman - Monday, December 5, 1836, p. 3 in Journal and Documents of the Board of Assistants of the City of New-York, Vol. 9 from 28th November to 9th May, 1837 (Printed by Order of the Board, 1837) (resolution upon King's death acknowledging his service for more than twenty years as a member of the Common Council, a predecessor to today's City Council).  As one would expect, King appears throughout the Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York on countless occasions.  See Minutes Of The Common Council Of The City Of New York 1784-1831 Volume X - September 7, 1818 to February 28, 1820, pp. 1, 14, 22, 35, 59, 66, 74, etc.  (NY, NY:  City of New York 1917).  King also served as a member of the New York State Assembly (1813-14).  

Late in his life in about the 1820s, Elisha King built a lavish mansion in Pelham on Rodman's Neck (today's Pelham Neck) opposite City Island.  According to one source, King purchased nearby High Island in 1829 and quarried stones from the island "which he used in the construction of a foundation" for his country mansion.  See Twomey, Bill, The Bronx, in Bits and Pieces, p. 83 (Lincoln, NE:  iUniverse, Inc. 2003).  

Hawkswood faced the Long Island Sound.  Its grounds were nearly as lovely as the mansion itself.  In the 1881 edition of Bolton's History of Westchester County, Bolton noted that the "grounds, containing a great variety of choice trees, were laid out by the celebrated gardener, Andre Parmenteer."  Bolton, C.W., ed., The History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, From Its First Settlement To the Present Time Carefully Revised by its Author By the Late Rev. Robert Bolton, Vol. II, p. 71 (NY, NY: Chas. F. Roper, 1881).  King built his mansion on a lovely little knoll that looked over the waters of the Sound and City Island.

Once his mansion was built, King retired there and lived in it until his death in 1836.  Following King's death, his Pelham estate was sold at auction at the Merchants' Exchange in Manhattan at Noon on December 1, 1846.  See Business Notices, New-York Tribune, Dec. 1, 1846, p. 2, col. 7.  See also Executor's Sale, Estate of the Late Elisha W. King, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 10, 1846, p. 3. and Executor's Sale, Estate of the Late Elisha W. King, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 13, 1846, p. 3:  

"EXECUTOR'S SALE. - ESTATE OF THE LATE ELISHA W. KING. - The subscriber will sell at auction on Tuesday, 1st December next, at 12 o'clock, at the Merchants' Exchange (ANTHONY J. BLEECKER, Auctioneer,) the following property belonging to the estate of the late Elisha W. King, viz: . . . . 

Also, 80 acres of fine land beautifully situated on Rodman's Neck, in the town of Pelham, county of Westchester, being a part of the homestead of the late Elisha W. King. The land fronts on East Chester Bay, and affords several beautiful building spots, with a fine water prospect and privileges. It is bounded north and east by the main road, south by property of Samuel Bowne, Esq., and west by the Bay. The premises will be sold in one or more parcels. . . . . 


n7 2awts Executor, &c of Elisha W. King, dec'd."

Levin Rothrock Marshall bought the grand home and the eighty-acre estate on which it stood for $30,000.  The home became known as the "Marshall Mansion."  The area at the western end of City Island Bridge near the mansion became known as "Marshall's Corner."  

Detail from Page 35, Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity, 1868
(Published by Beers, Ellis & Soule, New York) ("City Island, Pelham Township, 
Westchester Co., N.Y. with Town of Pelham, Wetchester Co., N.Y.")
Shows Estate of L.R. Marshall Known as "Hawkswood"

Levin R. Marshall  was originally from Virginia.  He became a successful banker in the river city of Natchez, Mississippi.  He invested in cotton plantations, a hotel, and a steamboat.  Five of his plantations, totaling 14,400 acres, were located in Adams County, Mississippi and in Louisiana.  He owned 817 slaves in 1860 and lived on an estate known as "Richmond" just south of Natchez.  Marshall was a millionaire -- "one of only 35 millionaires in the entire country" at the time.  See Richmond Plantation, Sankofagen Wiki, available at http://sankofagen.pbworks.com/w/page/14230765/Richmond%20Plantation (visited Feb. 7, 2014).  Levin R. Marshall (1800-1870) was:

"a significant figure in the economic history of Natchez.  His vast fortune was made from banking and commerce and from the extensive agricultural investments he made in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  Although powerful through wealth, Marshall never held political office, and his only recorded civic activity took place in 1825 when he led a group of children to welcome the Marquis de Lafayette to Natchez. . . . Marshall was born in Alexandria, Virginia,, and migrated to the newly admitted state of Mississippi when he was seventeen.  He settled in Woodville and began his business career as cashier of the Bank of Woodville.  In 1826 he married Maria Chotard, whose family was among the wealthiest and most aristrocratic in the state.  In 1831, he was appointed cashier of the Natchez branch of the Bank of the United States.  He established his residence at Richmond the next year.  After the charter of the Bank of the United States was allowed by the hostile Jackson administration to expire in 1836, Marshall was one of several prominent businessmen to establish the Commercial Bank of Natchez, and he served as its first president.  Another group of financiers, of which Marshall was a member, formed the Natchez Steam Packet Company in 1838 to provide planters with a means of transporting their cotton directly to the European markets.  Like many of his contemporaries, Marshall invested heavily in agriculture, and, by the outbreak of the Civil War,, he had amassed immense holdings totaling over 25,000 acres in three states. . . . In Adams County, Mississippi, alone, Marshall owned 2,500 acres worked by over 150 slaves, with another 32 servants at Richmond. . . . The value of his 5,250 acres in Louisiana sugar production was estimated to be $382,500 in 1860. . . . Other investments which kept Marshall in the forefront of financial activities included ownership of the fashionable Mansion House hotel in Natchez . . . and part ownership of the local merchandising firm of Marshall, Reynolds, and Company.  A contemporary biographical sketch said of Marshall:  'He began for himself with no capital but by his untiring industry and excellent business ability he became a leader in financial circles in the palmiest days of Natchez.' . . .After Marshall's death in 1870, Richmond became the property of his widow."  

Source:  U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form, Section 8 Statement of Significance (June 12, 1978). 

It seems that Levin R. Marshall may have been attracted to purchase Hawkswood to serve as his summer home because it reminded him so much of the renovated plantation home he had acquired and redesigned near Natchez, Mississippi known as "Richmond."  When the two are compared from early images, there is an architectural resemblance.  

Above:  Detail from Engraving of Hawkswood Published in 1831
Below:  Detail from Early 20th Century Post Card Showing Richmond Near Natchez

During the mid-19th century, as Pelham and the City Island area became a popular recreational and tourist destination.  The Vickery Brothers saw an entrepreneurial opportunity and opened a stage coach service.  Robert Vickery operated the stagecoach that ran from City Island to Mt. Vernon before the establishment of Bartow Station on the New Haven Branch Line.  See Scott, Catherine A., Images of America: City Island And Orchard Beach, p. 43 (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing 1999).

As improving transportation made it easier for the masses of New York City to reach Pelham and City Island, the popularity of the area as a recreational destination exploded.  After Bartow Station opened making it easier to get to the area by train, horse-drawn street cars replaced the stagecoach line in about 1887.  The horse cars ran on tracks and carried passengers from Bartow Station to the Marshall Mansion where livery service was available.  Id.   Later the horse-drawn street car line was extended along City Island Avenue to the Grace Episcopal Church on Pilot Street.  Id.  The area where the horse cars stopped on the Pelham Bay Park side of the City Island Bridge came to be known as "Marshall Corners" for obvious reasons.  

The Ogden family owned a number of homes in the Town of Pelham very near Hawkswood including one on the easterly island of the Twin Islands and another at Pelham Bridge on the Pelham side of Pelham Bay.  One of Levin R. Marshall's daughters, Josephine E. Marshall, by his second wife, married a member of the Ogden family of Pelham:  John Routh Ogden.  

Levin R. Marshall died in the mansion while visiting his summer home on July 24, 1870.  As part of its effort to develop the area as Pelham Bay Park, the City of New York thereafter purchased the Marshall estate in 1888 although the property was not maintained thereafter with the attention to detail and loving care that had been lavished on it for many decades.  Bolton wrote about the Marshall Mansion in the 1881 edition of his History of Westchester County published after his death saying:

"Hawkwood, the residence of the late Elisha King, Esq., is now owned by the widow of the late Levin R. Marshall, and adjoins the property of Captain J.R. Steers, on the south. The house is built of stone, in the Grecian style, and presents a fine front of columns to the water. The beauty of the scenery in this vicinity is greatly heightened by the close proximity of City Island, and the richly wooded shores of the Point. The grounds, containing a great variety of choice trees,, were laid out by the celebrated gardener, Andre Parmenteer. Nearly adjoining Hawkwood, in the south-west, is Longwood, the residence of A. Newbold Morris, Esq." 

Source: Bolton, C.W., ed., The History of the Several Towns, Manors, and Patents of the County of Westchester, From Its First Settlement To the Present Time Carefully Revised by its Author By the Late Rev. Robert Bolton, Vol. II, p. 71 (NY, NY: Chas. F. Roper, 1881).

By 1910 there were great expectations for the development of City Island and the area near City Island Bridge.  Thus, in its Fifteen Annual Report, the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society wrote:

"Marshall Mansion: Opposite the upper end of City island, and surrounded by a forest of its own, the white Marshall mansion rears its stately walls, and presents in its handsome Grecian columns a most striking and picturesque appearance. The name, 'Hawkswood,' still clings to the place, and it will not be long before the snail-like horse car of a by-gone age will give place to the modern monorail system now under construction, whose dazzling cars are expected to fly past the Marshall mansion at 135 miles an hour." 

Source:  Fifteenth Annual Report, 1910, of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, p. 65 (Albany, NY: J. B. Lyon Company, Printers 1910) (transmitted to the Legislature of the State of New York Apr. 19, 1910).

Undated Post Card Showing the "Colonial Inn" in About 1915.

Bill Twomey wrote about the later years of the Marshall Mansion in his lovely book The Bronx In Bits And Pieces.  He wrote:

"The city leased the building as a restaurant in 1913, and it became known as the Colonial Inn.  It was soon discovered by visitors to City Island and became quite popular.  Gas was piped into the building in 1931 to enhance their cooking facilities.  Age, however, was taking its toll on the old mansion, and it soon became uneconomical to maintain and it was forced to close.  It was razed in 1937 and now remains only in old photographs or in the memories of those who dined here during its heyday."

Source:  Twomey, Bill, The Bronx In Bits And Pieces, pp. 39-40 (Bloomington, IN: Rooftop Publishing, 2007).

Below are a few additional images of Hawkswood over a number of years, each followed by a citation to its source.

Hawkswood in 1831.
Source:  Atkinson's Casket Or Gems of Literature, Wit and Sentiment, 
No. 10, p. 457 (Oct. 1831) (image appears between pages 456 and 457).

The image above appears with the following description of the estate:

The seat of E. W. King, Esq. 

This beautiful edifice is fifty feet in breadth and sixty-two in depth, composed of stone. It is entirely of the Grecian order, and was planned by, and executed under the superintendence of Mr. Martin E. Thompson, Architect of New York, in the year 1828-9. The Lawn is enriched with almost every variety of tree and shrub, and its arrangement is one of the happiest efforts of the late distinguished Landscape Gardener, Mr. Andrew Parmentier, of Brooklyn. It is situated on a point of land jutting into the East River, or Long Island Sound, in Pelham, about sixteen miles east of New York; and is the property of E. W. King, Esquire. The situation is peculiarly picturesque; in the rear are woodlands of great height, having one ravine, through which the banks of the Hudson are visible; on the east and west the shores are skirted with seats of uncommon beauty. In front are three small inhabited Islands of great fertility. The river affords an ever varying scene of vessels, with sails and steamers passing to and from the great commercial emporium of the west."

Hawkswood / Marshall Mansion in the 1930s.
New York City Parks Department.

I have written about the Hawkswood / Marshall Mansion on other occasions.  Below are a few linked examples:

 Wed., Apr. 5, 2006:  "Hawkswood", Later Known as the Marshall Mansion on Rodman's Neck in Pelham

Thu., Jun. 28, 2007: 19th Century Notice of Executor's Sale of "Hawkswood" After Death of Elisha W. King.

Fri., May 07, 2010:  Image of Hawkswood Published in 1831.

Thu., June 28, 2007: 19th Century Notice of Executor's Sale of "Hawkswood" After Death of Elisha W. King.

Mon., Apr. 26, 2010:  Public Service Commission Couldn't Find Marshall's Corners in 1909.  

Additionally, below is a transcription of another biography of Levin R. Marshall, followed by a citation to its source:  

"Levin R. Marshall (deceased), one of the wealthy banker and business men of Natchez, formerly, was born in Alexandria, Va., on the 10th of October, 1800; was the son of Henry Marshall, who was a native of Maryland, but who spent his latter years in Virginia.  The older Marshall was of English parentage and he was of the same family as the distinguished Chief Justice Marshall.  Levin R. received a good practical education and when about seventeen years of age went to Mississippi, located in Woodville, where he was soon made cashier of the United States bank at that place.  While there, and in 1826, he married Miss Maria Chotard, daughter of the celebrated John Marie Chotard . . . . She was born in Mississippi territory in 1807 and died in Natchez in 1834.  She was the mother of four children, all deceased but Hon. George M. Marshall, of Natchez.  Mr. Marshall afterward married Mrs. Sarah E. (Elliott) Ross, widow of Isaac Ross and daughter of Dr. Elliott.  The latter came to Port Gibson at an early day and spent the balance of his days as a successful physician and a prominent citizen.  His wife's maiden name was D'Evereux.  She was a native of the Emerald isle and a sister of John D'Evereux, who was an officer in the English army and who, after the Irish troubles, was under Robert Emmett and served in a very satisfactory way to Ireland.  For this he was banished from the country and after a short time in Baltimore, Md., he went to South America, where he was made a general under General Bolivar, serving in the Bolivian army.  After this he was pardoned by the English government and allowed to return home, and there spent the closing scenes of his life in peace and quiet.  He made frequent visits to his relatives and numerous friends at Natchez, but made his permanent home in his native county [sic].  By his second marriage, Mr. Marshall became the father of eight children, only two of whom survive:  Josephine E., wife of J. R. Ogden of New York, and Stephen Duncan Marshall, who was born in Natchez, educated principally in New York, and who married Miss Catharine Maria Calhoun in 1872.  she was a native of Natchez and a daughter of the late Dr. Gustavus Calhoun, a Pennsylvanian by birth but a pioneer of Natchez, where he died.  Mrs. Calhoun is still living at Natchez and is quite aged.  Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Marshall are prominent members of the Episcopal church.  As a financier and general business man Levin R. Marshall was probably now excelled in the Southwest.  He began for himself with no capital, but by his untiring industry and excellent business ability he became a leader in financial circles in the palmiest days of Natchez.  He began his career at Woodville and, as before stated, he became cashier of the United States bank.  In 1831 he removed to Natchez and became cashier of the United States bank there.  He was afterward instrumental in establishing the Commercial bank at Natchez, of which he served as president for a number of years.  He also followed merchandising quite extensively and was at one time connected with the commission house of J. B. Byrne & Co., of New Orleans, also the commission house of Marshall, Reynolds & Co., at Natchez.  He became the owner of extensive sugar and cotton plantations, and soon after removing to Natchez he erected a magnificent suburban residence one mile south of the city, it being known as Richmond.  He passed his time alternately between that place and Westchester county, N.Y. and his death occurred in the last named place on the 24th of July, 1870, after a long and useful life.  He was one of the class of men singled out by nature to show what a man can do when he sets his mind on it.  He began for himself with no capital but by his untiring industry and excellent business ability he became a leader in financial circles in the palmiest days of Natchez."

Source:  Godspeed, Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi, Vol. II, Part I, pp. 397-98. 

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home