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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Mansion Built by Stephen Decatur Horton and His Wife on Belden Point, City Island, Town of Pelham


George W. Horton was an important early settler of City Island in the Town of Pelham.  In 1818, Horton purchased a large tract of land on City Island consisting of nearly the entire lower third of the island.  He did not, however, move to City Island at that time.  Rather, he resided in, and was engaged in a transportation and shipping business in, New York City until 1833. At about that time, he and his wife, Elizabeth, became the first members of the Horton family to settle on City Island.  The couple built the old Horton homestead that once stood on Main Street at the lower end of the island.  



"Old George W. Horton Homestead.
Foot of Main Street, City Island. Borough of Bronx. New York."
Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions And
Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. II,
p. between pp. 202-03 (New York and Chicago:
The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907).
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

George W. Horton was born February 21, 1786.  He died September 22, 1860.  He married Elizabeth Horton, April 24, 1813.  She, in turn, was born April 6, 1794 and died in June, 1861.  Among the children of the couple was Stephen Decatur Horton who was born January 18, 1821 and who died October 23, 1900.

Stephen Decatur Horton and his wife, Caroline Lucilia (Skidmore) Horton, also were important early settlers of City Island in the Town of Pelham.  Stephen Decatur Horton became a notable Hellgate Pilot.  During the mid-1870s, the affluent couple built a lovely mansion on Belden point known simply as "The Mansion."  



Post Card View of "The Mansion, Belden Point, City Island, N.Y."
Post Card is Postmarked March 22, 1909.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.




"Stephen Decatur Horton" and "Caroline Lucilia (Skidmore) Horton"
Source: Pelletreau, William S., Historic Homes and Institutions And
Genealogical and Family History of New York, Vol. II,
p. between pp. 204-05 (New York and Chicago:
The Lewis Publishing Company, 1907).
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

In 1885, William Belden purchased Stephen D. Horton's property including "The Mansion."  Shortly thereafter, Collis P. Huntington of the Central Pacific Railway, purchased the property from Belden.  At the time of his death, Huntington bequeathed the property and home to Columbia University, which leased it to a syndicate in 1914.  That syndicate planned to convert the property to a grand European-style resort, but the effort failed.  The Morris Yacht Club occupied the property for a number of years.  The club originally occupied the Bowne House on Rodman's Neck, but that building was destroyed by fire in 1904.  



Undated Post Card View of "The Mansion" at Belden Point,
Ca. 1905.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

According to one account, The Mansion "became the Monte Carlo Hotel, and by 1917 was known as the Chateau Laurier, a popular dancing and dining spot.  In 1925, Lou Gold and other famous bandleaders entertained here.  A copy of the January 6, 1917 menu advertised broiled salmon steak for 60ยข and filet mignon for $1.  The offices of the City Island Athletic Club were housed here before the Morris Yacht Club purchased the property in 1937."  Scott, Catherine A., Images of America:  City Island and Orchard Beach, p. 84 (Charleston, SC:  Arcadia Publishing, 1999).

On March 10, 2006, the Victorian-era structured burned in a tragic fire.  The members of the Club rejected calls to sell the property to real estate interests and, instead "committed to rebuilding the clubhouse to preserve the beauty and ecology of the Bronx waterfront and to maintain the rich nautical heritage of City Island."  On May 21, 2011, the Club held a grand opening ceremony of a new 16,000 square foot clubhouse on the site.  


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