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, April 14, 2014

Early History of Pelham Heights Published in 1895

I have written before about the lovely area of Pelham known as The Heights (Pelham Heights) and its residents.  The area once was incorporated as the Village of Pelham before the Village of North Pelham and the Village of Pelham were merged to form today's Village of Pelham.  For a few of many examples of prior articles about The Heights and some of its residents, see:

Tue., Jan. 21, 2014:  Early History of Pelham Heights: "Then Was Formed The Idea That Gave Pelham Heights Its Birth"

Thu., Jul. 16, 2009:  Village of Pelham Trustees Grant Franchise Necessary for the Pelham Manor Trolley that Inspired the Toonerville Trolley.  

Fri., Dec. 07, 2007:  Another Biography of Congressman Benjamin Fairchild of Pelham, a Founder of Pelham Heights.  

Thu., Dec. 06, 2007:  Biography of John F. Fairchild, Engineer of the Pelham Heights Company During the 1890s.  

Fri., Sep. 28, 2007:  When Incorporated, The Original Village of Pelham Needed More Elected Officials Than it Had Voters.  

Tue., Aug. 15, 2006:  Another Biography of Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights.

Fri., Apr. 22, 2005:  Benjamin L. Fairchild of Pelham Heights -- A Notable Pelham Personage.  

Bell, Blake A., Early History of Pelham Heights, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 32, Aug. 13, 2004, p. 9, col. 1.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides additional information about the early history of Pelham Heights.  It transcribes an article that described the earliest efforts to develop the lands that became The Heights.  The article appeared in the May 30, 1895 issue of The Mount Vernon Argus.  The transcribed text appears beneath the image below from the same article, followed by a citation to the source.  

Home of Hon. Benjamin L. Fairchild in 1895.
Source:  Pelham Heights, The Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], 
May 30, 1895, Supplement, p. 7, cols. 3-4.  


A place that is rapidly becoming famous is the second station from the Grand Central Depot, adjoining Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Pelham Manor, extending from the easterly boundary of Mount Vernon to the westerly boundary of New Rochelle, and from the New Haven Railroad tracks southerly to the Pelham Manor line.  For a number of years it remained entirely undeveloped, by reason of the manner in which a portion of it was tied up in estates.  Fortunately, the several pieces of property were finally acquired by parties who had the ability and inclination to combine in developing this section into high class property, rather than to subdivide the section in accordance with the usual method of flaring advertisements, cheap lots and quick sales.

More than a year was occupied after the several properties were acquired by this syndicate in the engineering work alone, which included plans for an elaborate sewerage system, a separate drainage system, gas mains, water mains, electric lights, macadamized roads and sidewalks -- in fact, every modern municipal improvement, designed with a solidity equal to the best municipal improvements in any city in the United States.  The engineering work was immediately followed by active construction, in accordance with such plans, and the thoroughness of the work accounts for the number of years occupied in placing the property in a condition to invite the class of home seekers who can afford to comply with the restrictions, that require, among other things, a minimum cost of $5,000 for each residence, to be built upon plots of a minimum footage of seventy-five feet.  Hardly a year has passed since a sufficient number of streets have been entirely completed to warrant the offering of lots to a select class of purchasers, and already there are more than a dozen families located in the place, in handsome residences, costing from $6,000 to $20,000 quickly giving to Pelham Heights the name of a fashionable residential section.

Among the residences already erected in Pelham Heights, special mention might be made of the handsome stone residence on Pelhamdale Avenue of Mr. P.P. De Arozarena, of the Haviland Wall Paper Manufacturing Company, and the Colonial home of Congressman Fairchild, on the Third Street Boulevard, each of which is said to have cost about $20,000.  A description of the interior of these two houses would deserve a special article.  None of the visitors to Pelham Heights have failed to notice the picturesque homes on Loring Avenue of Mr. Ralph K. Hubbard, Secretary of the Provident Life Insurance Company, and Mr. Howard Scribner, son of the former Secretary of State.

There has been already as much as $200,000 expended in street improvements.  The work already completed is considerable [sic] more than appears upon the surface, and includes all the cross sections of the pipe lines, and the trunk line and main outlet sewers and drains for the whole property, including the unopened avenues, as well as those streets and avenues which have been entirely opened and completed.  The main outlet surface drain through Highbrook Avenue is a large stone, brick arch culvert erected at a considerable expense for the drainage of the whole section, and is of sufficient size for workmen to pass through if necessary to make repairs, without disturbing the surface of the avenue.  The opening and completion of any additional avenues in the future will not require the prosecution of any work in any of the streets or avenues already completed, because of such completition of all the main connections.  

The natural advantages of Pelham Heights was favorable for such a development as we have here described.  The property is higher than any of the surrounding territory, and from almomst any point on the property a wide expanse of view can be obtained of Pelham Bay Park and over toward Long Island Sound.  Congressman Fairchild, from his house, has an extensive view of Long Island and Long Island Sound on the south and east, and of the Palisades, as far north as Piermont, on the west.

A special natural attraction of Pelham Heights are the trees of many varieties, which cover a large portion of the property, and make Loring Avenue one of the handsomest anywhere.  It is not a long walk from Pelham Heights, through Pelhamdale Avenue, to the Sound.  The rapidly nearing completion of the macadamizing of the Pelham Manor streets and avenues will make Pelhamdale Avenue a finely macadamized boulevard, with sidewalks from Pelham Heights to Travers Island.

During the summer the macadamizing and construction of sidewalks along Third Street in Mount Vernon to Pelham Heights will have been completed, the new station at Pelham Heights will have been erected, and the electric railroad, which is now operated to the Pelham line, will probably have been completed through to the Sound.  The railway people wanted to build their line through the Third Street Street Boulevard, but the Pelham Heights syndicate would allow no tracks to be placed in that avenue, and the route mapped out, therefore, required the road to be built to the Pelham Station, and thence through First Street of Pelham Heights, which lies along the railroad track, and Highbrook Avenue, which is planned to be the business street of Pelham Heights and thence direct to New Rochelle and the Sound.  The entrance to New Rochelle from Pelham Height [sic] will also be improved greatly this summer.  The Suburban Railway tracks are to be raised considerably, and the old Boston Post Road, which now enters New Rochelle along a bridge over the tracks, will be carried under the tracks which will do away with the steep embankment now existing.  This will result in the final completion by New Rochelle of a macadam road and sidewalks from the terminus of the Third Street Boulevard of Pelham Heights into Main Street.  With the completion of these improvements, we will have continuous sidewalks from the westerly boundary of Mount Vernon to the northerly line of New Rochelle, through Third Street, in Mount Vernon and Pelham Heights, and Main Street, in New Rochelle, which two streets will then become practically one thoroughfare.  This is only one small indication of how rapidly Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle are becoming one community; and what a delightful community it is, and how much more delightful it is becoming, located as it is at the northerly door of the greatest of the new city parks, Pelham Bay Park, which comprises the whole of the peninsula formed by East Chester Creek, Pelham Bay and Long Island Sound."

Source:  Pelham Heights, The Mount Vernon Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 30, 1895, Supplement, p. 6, cols. 3-4 & p. 7, col. 3.  

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