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, March 24, 2015

An Early Description of Efforts to Open Chester Park Published in 1891

In 1891, William T. Standen, an actuary with the United States Life Insurance Company, and his wife, Elizabeth G. Standen, owned much of the land we know today as Chester Park in the Village of Pelham.  At the time, the land was located just north of an unincorporated section of the Town of Pelham known as Pelhamville.  

Though Standen worked in the headquarters of United States Life Insurance Company located at 261 Broadway in New York City, he and his wife had a residence on the lands they owned in the Town of Pelham.  They called their residence "The Homestead."   The Homestead was located north of today’s Pine Avenue between Maple Avenue and Pelhamdale Avenue.  By May of 1891, the Standens had decided to subdivide their land and develop it as “Chester Park”. In May and June of that year, the lands were surveyed for the purpose of creating a subdivision map for development purposes.

"The Homestead," Residence of William T. Standen,
The Founder of Chester Park, Ca. 1890s.
Source: Courtesy of The Office of The Historian of The
Town of Pelham from a Board of Photos Donated to the Town of Pelham.

One of the earliest descriptions of efforts to develop Chester Park appeared in the August 4, 1891 issue of The Chronicle published in Mount Vernon, New York.  The description notes that the intent behind the development was to allow residents to "embrace every enjoyable element of country life, without the usual disadvantages."  With this in mind, the developers promised a stage coach to run regularly between the Pelhamville Depot and Chester Park and also to carry Chester Park students to and from the Pelhamville School.  The developers also promised macadamized roads, street lamps provided by the Eastchester Electric Light Company and emphasized the two-acre green in the center of the development with a large fountain stocked with gold and silver fish and aquatic plants.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of this early description of efforts to develop Chester Park, followed by a citation and link to its source.

I have written about the history of Chester Park on numerous occasions.  For more, see:  

Bell, Blake A., History of Chester Park in the Village of Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 46, Nov. 19, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.).

Wed., Jul. 16, 2014:  Final Auction of Remaining Lands of the Pelhamville Land and Homestead Association in 1898.

Thu., Jun. 01, 2006:  Early Photographs of Chester Park Among Materials Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

Fri., Jun. 2, 2006:  Several of the Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

Mon., Jun. 5, 2006:  More Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

Tue., Jun. 6, 2006:  More Early Photographs of Chester Park Recently Donated to The Office of The Historian of The Town of Pelham.

Monday, June 19, 2006:  Court Decision Issued in 1894 Sheds Light on Finances Behind the Development of Chester Park in the Early 1890s.


Our sister localities, Pelham Heights and Pelhamville, are making practical strides towards becoming resident sections.  One of the newest to make a bid for public favor is Chester Park, near Pelhamville station.  

The Park has three entrances from the public highway, viz."  Pine avenue to the north, Willow avenue to the south, and Central avenue between them, at which is located the main entrance.  The entrance piers and receding walls are built of very handsome native granite, and are imposing in size and of excellent workmanship.  

Free water laid on to every lot.  Magnificently macadamized roads.  Every requisite for the highest enjoyment of country life.

The Eastchester Electric Light Company will light the streets of this park and the residences erected in it.

The designer of Chester Park has madfe ample provision for the pleasure and recreation of children.  The public green is a plot of about two acres, which will be, for all time, reserved as a place of recreation for residents and their friends.

The easterly end of the green forms a terrace, with a noble flight of stone steps leading up thereto from the Central avenue.  At each of the eight corners of this green are piers surmounted by bronze vases, which will, in season, be decorated by the best art of a florist.

In the centre of the green is a large basin and fountain.  The water is stocked with gold and silver fish, lilies and water plants, and as the fountain is generally playing throughout the day, it makes a most charming piece of ornamentation.

A commodious stage will run constantly between Pelhamville Station and the Park, at a merelly nominal fare, and this stage will also be used when desirable, to take the children of residents to school and bring them home again, so that residences in this choice location can embrace every enjoyable element of country life, without the usual disadvantages.  

Anyone visiting the Park for the purpose of inspection can apply to the Depot Agent at Pelhamville, who will drive them over to the park and back free of charge.  Mr. Thomas G. Brotherton, the resident manager, will be there to receive and show courteous attention to all guests or visitors."

Source:  Pelhamville -- CHESTER PARK, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 4, 1891, Vol. XXII, No. 1425, p. 2, col. 2.  

Detail from 1893 Map Showing Layout of Chester Park.
Source:  Bien, Joseph R., "Towns of Westchester and Pelham
(With) Villages of Westchester and Unionport. (With) Village of
Pelhamville" in Atlas of Westchester County, New York
Prepared Under the Direction of Joseph R. Bien, E.M.,
p. 3 (NY, NY:  Julius Bien & Co., 1893).  NOTE:  Click
on Image to Enlarge.

Below is an advertisement for an auction of Chester Park lots that appeared in the August 10, 1891 issue of The Yonkers Statesman.  It is followed by a transcription of its text to facilitate search.

August 10, 1891 Advertisement for Auction of Chester Park Lots.
Source:  CHESTER PARK [Advertisement], The Yonkers Statesman,
Aug. 10, 1891, Vol. VIII, No. 2375, p. 2, col. 5.  NOTE:  Click
on Image to Enlarge.

On line of New Haven Railroad near Pelhamville station, within half an hour of the Grand Central Station.
In This Park Will Be Held at the 
59 to 65 Liberty Street, New York City,
At Noon, by
JOHN F. B. SMITH, Auctioneer

Visitors purposing to inspect this Park will be supplied with a vehiclle, free of charge to them, by the Station Agent at Pelhamville.  Macadamized roads, streets lighted by electricity, water laid on free to every lot, a splendidly-ornamented Public Green of about two acres for the pleasure and recreation of residents of Chester Park, are among its many special attractions, which can be thoroughly appreciated only by a personal inspection, which is earnestly invited.

For maps and further particulars, address JOHN F. B. SMITH, Auctioneer, 69 Liberty street, New York City; or THOMAS G. BROTHERTON, Manager, Chester Park, Pehamville, Westchester County, N. Y."

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