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 02, 2015

The Three Houses of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in the Late 19th Century

As local developers and land owners worked to subdivide and develop properties in the sleepy little settlement known as Pelham Manor during the 1880's, one of the issues that arose was the adequacy of local public schools.  To attract potential residents and real estate purchasers, local citizens pressed for the development of private schools to supplement the public school system. 

The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York had a star teacher in the 1880's.  Her name was Emily Hall Hazen.  A few Pelham Manor landowners coveted the teacher’s talents and experience.  They still were trying to develop the remnants of the subdivision planned by the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association founded in the early 1870's. 

To attract “upper class buyers,” a Pelham Manor landowner named Silas H. Witherbee recruited Mrs. Hazen to open a girl’s preparatory school in Pelham Manor.  According to one account, “although Mrs. Hazen was urged to locate elsewhere, she yielded to the persuasion and promise of support given by the residents of Pelham Manor.”  In 1889 the little school opened in a structure that still stands at 952 Pelhamdale Avenue.  The school became one of the finest girls’ schools in the country before it closed twenty-five years later at the end of the 1914-1915 school year.  The school, officially named "Pelham Hall," was known far and wide as "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  As the school reached its last years, it had served over a thousand students from forty-two States and over two hundred and fifty towns and cities throughout the country.

By the late 19th century, however, the school had grown into a campus with three principal "Houses" in which the young students lived, studied, and socialized.  The three buildings were named "Chester House," "Edgewood House," and "Marbury House."  They were grouped together within an area adjacent to Boston Post Road between the Esplanade and Edgewood Avenue.  

Immediately below is a detail from a map of the area by John F. Fairchild published in 1899.  It clearly shows the three structures and provides their names.  Additionally, it shows the dotted outlines of carriage driveways and paths throughout the campus among the three structures.  As the map suggests, the structures form a triangle on the small campus with Chester House and Marbury House facing Esplanade and Edgewood House to the rear of those two buildings, closer to Edgewood Avenue.

Source:  Double-Page Map on Plate 22 in 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).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

A post card mailed in 1906 contains a photograph of the small campus.  All three Houses of the school are visible in the photograph which was taken from the Esplanade.  Chester House is visible on the left, Edgewood House is visible in the center (in the rear), and Marbury House is visible on the right.  

"Mrs. Hazen's School, Pelham Manor, New York,"
A Postally-Used Post Card Mailed in 1906.

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I have written extensively about the private school known as "Pelham Hall" and "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  For a few of the many examples, see:
Tue., Feb. 16, 2010:  Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York.

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