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, January 20, 2015

The Precise Location of the Congregational Church as Shown on a Map Published in 1908

A tiny, but beautiful white wood clapboard-sided country church once stood on Second Avenue between third street and fourth street (now Lincoln Avenue).  It was known as the Congregational Church of North Pelham and was organized by a group known as the Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville.  It had a knee-high white-picket fence surrounding it, and evoked a simpler rural time when much of the Village of North Pelham (once known as Pelhamville) was entirely undeveloped.

I have written several times about the tiny little church.  See:

Wed., Nov. 19, 2014:  Rare Early Image of the Congregational Church of North Pelham in the Early 20th Century.

Tue., May 06, 2014:  More on the History of the Congregational Church of North Pelham.

Fri., Apr. 18, 2014:  The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926

Mon., Sep. 21, 2009:  January 1882 Account of the 1881 Christmas Festival Held at the Union Sabbath School in Pelhamville

Mon., Aug. 24, 2009:  1878 Advertisement for Services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville

Obverse of Undated Real Photo Post Card (RPP) Showing
Source: Recent eBay Auction Listing for the Post Card.

It was so wonderful to see yesterday that a civilized and enjoyable debate erupted on the "Remembering North Pelham" Facebook page addressing the question of precisely where the Congregational Church.  The area, as one might expect, is so different today that it is virtually impossible to tell where the church was located from looking at the entirely altered terrain.  

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog uses the hard-to-find 1908 Fairchild Atlas of Mount Vernon and Pelham to locate the church precisely.  There are two editions of the Fairchild Atlas.  The first was published in 1899.  The second was published in 1908.  They are very, very rare.  About a decade ago I was able to locate both from a Pennsylvania rare books dealer and bought copies that I have used for years.  Recently, however . . . . . . . . .

The New York Public Library Digital Collections have added high resolution images of the maps from the 1899 Fairchild Atlas and the 1908 Fairchild Atlas that can be magnified to a very high level.  See:

Fairchild, John F., Atlas of the City of Mount of Vernon and the Town of Pelham. Compiled from Official Records, Personal Surveys and Other Private Plans and Surveys. 1899. Compiled and published by John F. Fairchild. Civil Engineer and Surveyor. Rooms, 10-11 Bank Buliding, Mount Vernon, N.Y. (1899) (Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library). 

Fairchild, John F., Atlas of the City of Mount Vernon and the Town of Pelham Second Edition. Compiled from Official Records, Personal Surveys, and Other Private Plans and Surveys. 1908. Compiled and Published John F. Fairchild. C.E. Civil Engineer and Surveyor Engineering Building Mount Vernon, N.Y. (1908) (Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library).

NOTE:  In every instance when using these resources, it is critically important to consider the following as you are scrolling through the pages of the Atlas.  If you find a map that you wish to enlarge much larger than the book view permits you to enlarge, you find the tiny link above the book view to the map in the Atlas in which you are interested.  Once you click on that link, you can magnify the map page to a massive level.  When you are simply in the book view (but not the page view that is accessed by clicking on the link above the pages you see in the book view), you can only magnify the image slightly -- typically not to the extent necessary.

Below are two details from plate 27 of the 1908 Fairchild Atlas.  The first shows much of the plate.  In the upper left corner is the block on which the Congregational Church stood -- the block between First and Second Avenues bounded by Third Street and Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue).  The second shows a magnified detail from the same plate (Plate 27) showing the block in question.

Detail from Plate 27 Showing Block on Which
the Congregational Church Stood at Upper
Left of the Street Grid.  Source:  See Citation Above.
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Magnified Detail of the Same Map Showing the Block on Which
the Congregational Church Stood in 1908.  Source:  See Citation
Above.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

As the magnified detail immediately above shows, the Congregational Church stood on a lot that extended through the entire block with frontage on both Second Avenue and First Avenue.  The church building, however faced Second Avenue and stood only a few feet away from the street.  The church lot was about halfway between Third Street and Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue).  The church lot had 50 feet of frontage on Second Avenue and fifty feet of frontage on First Avenue.  The length of the lot was 309 feet (a combination of two lots, one of which was 155 feet long and the other 154 feet).  In 1908, about the time of the real post card image of the church shown above, the lots on both sides of the church when facing it from Second Avenue were empty.  The southerly lot of the two lots adjacent to the rear half of the church property was empty.  Two adjoining small structures (perhaps sheds) were on the northerly lot adjacent to the rear half of the church property.  They belonged at the time to C. W. Russell.  

Interestingly, directly across First Avenue from the rear of the church lot were the ice houses of the American Ice Company which was one of the local business that harvested "natural ice" from the Pelham Reservoir, the very tip of which can be seen at the bottom of the magnified map detail near the ice houses.

When a current satellite image of the same block is juxtaposed adjacent to the magnified map detail above, one can get a much better sense of how much the area has changed in the last 106 years.  Although I have made no meaningful effort to research the issue or survey the area, it would seem that none of the structures that were standing in 1908 on the block in question are standing on the block today.  

Google Maps Satellite Image of Block in Question
Juxtaposed Adjacent to Magnified Detail from Plate
27 of 1908 Fairchild Map of the Same Block.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

In short, although one would be hard-pressed to find any evidence today, the Congregational Church stood about halfway up the block on Second Avenue between Third Street and Fourth Street (today's Lincoln Avenue).  According to Plate 27 of the 1908 Fairchild Atlas, the church building was approximately 160 feet north of the northern edge of Third Street, and about fifteen or twenty feet westward from the western edge of Second Avenue.  

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