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.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Sun Dial Lodge at 211 Secor Lane in Pelham Manor

There is a lovely home that stands at 211 Secor Lane in the Village of Pelham Manor.  It has a very large sundial built onto the facade of the beautiful porte-cochère of the home.  For more than four decades, the structure was known as the "Sun Dial Lodge."  It was a hotel and long-term boarding lodge built in about 1882.

During the 1870s and early 1880s, the Pelham Manor and Huguenot Heights Association was engaged in a major development of much of the area we know today as the Village of Pelham Manor.  One of the areas being developed at the time was known as the Chestnut Grove Division  North of the Chestnut Grove Division and across the Boston Post Road was a rural stretch known as Secor Hill.

In about 1882, a group of homes was built in the Secor Hill area.  Each was built in the shingle style with Queen Anne overtones and included the homes known today as 668 Ely Avenue, 231 Secor Lane, 210 Secor Lane, and 211 Secor Lane (the Sun Dial Lodge).  The home at 231 Secor Lane is nearly identical in design to the Sun Dial Lodge and is considered its "sister house."  The home at 210 Secor Lane is a renovated carriage house that once served a large house that once stood at the corner of Secor Lane and Wolfs Lane.  To learn more, see The Junior League of Pelham, Inc., A Glance at the Past: Pelham's Growth From 1775-1975, p. 17 (Pelham, NY:  The Junior League of Pelham, Inc. Sep. 1976) (Pamphlet associated with accompanying map; 32 pp. including Map Bibliography, Manuscript Bibliography and illustrations by Hedy Klein).

The Sun Dial Lodge, 211 Secor Lane, Pelham Manor, New York
in April, 2012.  The Sundial from Which the Structure, Now a
Private Residence, Derives its Name May Be Seen on
on the Facade of the Porte-Cochère.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

The Sun Dial Lodge, 211 Secor Lane, Pelham Manor, New York
Seen from a Different Angle.  The Sundial from May Be Seen
on the Far Left on the Facade of the Porte-Cochère.
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

Advertisement for the Sun Dial Lodge Published in 1923.
N.Y.  Fine rooms for the Winter; plenty of heat; every comfort
found in city hotels.  Pelham the station, 20 minutes from 42d
St..  C. ARTHUR."  Source:  COUNTRY BOARD. . . . SUN DIAL
LODGE [Advertisement], N.Y. Times, Feb. 11, 1923, p. 4, col. 1.
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

During the early 1920s, the Sun Dial Lodge was run by Mrs. Joseph Arthur, wife of the famous American playwright Joseph Arthur (born 1848; died Feb. 20, 1906).  Arthur was best known for his popular, though not critically-acclaimed, melodramatic plays performed in the 1880s and 1890s.  Two of his best known melodramas were The Still Alarm (1887) and Blue Jeans (1890).  Audiences were wowed by the climactic scene in The Still Alarm when horses pulled fire wagons to a raging fire.  In Blue Jeans, Arthur included a famous scene that came to define the melodrama:  a scene where the unconscious hero was strapped to a board approaching a buzz saw in a saw mill.  

The Sun Dial Lodge was marketed as a "high class house" offering rooms for boarders with and without private baths.  Mrs. Arthur marketed the boarding house as offering a "fine table" with excellent home-cooked food, facilities for tennis, and special rates for the winter season and for the month of August.  

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