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, May 17, 2016

Rare Images of the Lorillard Cottage of "Coaching to Pelham" Fame

The Lorillard Cottage once stood overlooking Eastchester Bay in an area near the location where today's Pelham Bridge reaches the shores of Throgg's Neck.  Images of the "cottage" are somewhat rare.  Built by Pierre Lorillard, Jr., the two story "cottage" was a substantial structure highlighted by a distinctive two-story portico supported by four simple columns that were unfluted and capped with ionic-style capitals.  

Although images of the Lorillard Cottage before it was razed by Robert Moses are somewhat rare, one recently popped up on eBay.  The image gives a clear picture of what the structure looked like at about the end of the 19th century or the very beginning of the 20th century.  

Undated Image of the "Lorillard Cottage" that Once Stood
on Throgg's Neck Near the Foot of the Old Pelham Bridge.
Source:  eBay.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

I have written before about the Lorillard Cottage, a structure that later became the "Arcularius Hotel," as part of an article about the Grand View Hotel that once stood at Pelham Bridge.  See Thu., Jan. 21, 2016:  Research Regarding David Blizzard's 19th Century Grand View Hotel at Pelham Bridge.  In that article I included two additional images of the Lorillard Cottage, taken from tiny engravings depicting the structure on sheet music.

This is a Tiny Detail, Difficult to Reproduce, From Armstrong,
W.A. & Pratt, Charles E., Coaching To Pelham Song And Chorus
[Music Sheets], Pg. 1 [Cover] (NY, NY: American Music Publishing
Co. 1876). NOTE: Click Image to Enlarge.

Image Depicting the Arcularius Hotel.
This is a Tiny Detail, Difficult to Reproduce, From Speck,
Samuel H., New Rochelle and Pelham Coach Galop [sic],
[Music Sheets], Pg. 1 [Cover] (Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson &
Co., 1876). NOTE: Click Image to Enlarge.

Numerous sources indicate that the Lorillard Cottage was built by Pierre Lorillard II (also known as Pierre Lorillard, Jr.).  For a full biography of Pierre Lorillard II, see "Pierre Lorillard II" in Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia (visited May 14, 2016).  

Pierre Lorillard II was born in New York on September 7, 1764.  He was a son of American tobacco magnate and founder of the Lorillard Tobacco Company, Pierre Abraham Lorillard, and Catherine Moore.  He married Maria Dorothea Schultz in 1788.  The couple lived at 521 Broadway in New York City and had five children.  

Members of the Lorillard family became associated with the areas known today as Bronx Park, Pelham Bay Park, and Throgg's Neck due to the family business.  The original business, started by Pierre Abraham Lorillard was a small snuff-grinding factory located in a rented house in lower Manhattan known as "Lorillard's Snuff and Tobacco Company."  Id.  Peter Abraham Lorillard was killed during the Revolutionary War.  Two of his sons, Pierre Lorillard II and George Lorillard took over the business.  As the business prospered, the Lorillards moved the manufacturing concern in 1792 to an expanded location adjacent to the Bronx River.  Various members of the Lorillard family built a variety of mansions, homes and cottages in the region not far from the manufacturing facility. 

In 1840, the Lorillards build the Lorillard Snuff Mill near an earlier such structure on the Bronx River , a building that still stands and serves as a cafe and meeting space on the grounds of today's New York Botanical Gardens.  

Lorillard Snuff Mill in 2011.
Source:  "Lorillard Snuff Mill" in Wikipedia -- The Free
Encyclopedia (visited May 14, 2016).  NOTE:  Click on
Image to Enlarge.

Among the many such Lorillard structures built in the region was the "Lorillard Cottage" built by Pierre Lorillard II before his death on May 23, 1843.  By 1853, the structure seems to have been converted to a hotel as a map prepared that year seems to refer to the structure simply as "Hotel."

Detail of Map Published in 1853 Showing What
Is Believed to Be the Location of the "Lorillard
Cottage" Naming it "Hotel."  Source:  Detail from
Map Published in 1853, Ten Years After the Death
 of Pierre Lorillard II.  Source: Dripps, Matthew & Conner,
(1853) (Museum of the City of New York, No. 29.100.2628).
NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.

By 1853, the Pelham Bridge area and City Island in the Town of Pelham already were known as a summer resort area and a sportsman's paradise.  By the 1870s, a man named George P. Arcularius began operating a hotel named the "Arcularius Hotel" in the Lorillard Cottage.  During the mid-1870s, the Arcularius Hotel became, for a short time, the destination of the famed "Pelham Coach" operated by Col. Delancey Kane.  As the destination for the famous "Tally-Ho" driven by Col. Kane, the Arcularius Hotel became well-known in its own right.  See, e.g., COL. DELANCEY KANE'S COACH -- The Trip to be Made To-Morrow to Pelham Bridge and Back -- The First Passengers, The Sun [NY, NY], Apr. 30, 1876, p. 5, col. 3.

A number of sources of the day indicate that the Arcularius Hotel was established in the old "Pierre Lorillard mansion."  See, e.g., The New Coach Line. Charming Ride to Pelham Bridge, N.Y. Times, May 2, 1876, p. 10 ("Arcularius Hotel is the old Pierre Lorillard mansion, situated on the shore of the Sound, surrounded with beautiful lawns and shade trees, and affording excellent opportunity for boating, fishing, and bathing. There could not be a pleasanter place in which to while away an afternoon."). 

References to the "Lorillard mansion" at Pelham Bridge would seem to be references to the "neat cottage" of "Mr. Pierre Lorillard Jr." that stood on the on the "north side of the neck [i.e., Throgg's Neck] at Pelham Bridge" referred to in Thomas Scharf's History of Westchester County published in 1886.  See Scharf, J. Thomas, History of Westchester County New York, Including Morrisania, Kings Bridge, and West Farms, Which Have Been Annexed to New York City, Vol. I, p. 816 (Philadelphia, PA: L. E. Preston & Co., 1886).

Once New York City acquired Lorillard Point and the Lorillard Cottage as it assembled parcels and estates in the region to create Pelham Bay Park, the property became one of many in the park that were repeatedly misused in a pattern of graft.  Commissioners "rented" the properties for amounts that were well below market rent to cronies and local politicians and other insiders who curried their favor.  

For example, in 1895 the New York Times reported that the secretary of the City Parks Department, Charles De Forest Burns, admitted to one of its reporters that he lived in the Lorillard Cottage rent free and even had his personal coachman carried on the City's payroll as a "laborer."  The newspaper made much of the fact that on his simple City salary, Burns had a vast coterie of "servants" who served him at the Lorillard Cottage.

Later, after the Burns scandal had passed, the Lorillard Cottage was "leased" to the "Tallapoosa Club" for only $25 per month.  The Tallapoosa Club was an organization headed by then-Bronx President Louis Haffen that used the Lorillard Cottage as a hotel and roadhouse  at great profit.

New York City newspapers repeatedly probed misuse of such properties as the Lorillard Cottage.  With each new probe, another great scandal unfolded and played out in the local newspapers for months.  A few examples of such articles that mention the Lorillard Cottage at Pelham Bridge appear below.

*          *          *          *          *

Park Board Not Prepared Yet to Discuss Charges Against Him.
Admits However, that He Lived in Lorillard Cottage and Employed Brown -- Some Wonder at His Array of Servants.

The Park Commissioners declared yesterday that they were not prepared to discuss in detail the revelations made in THE NEW-YORK TIMES regarding Charles De Forest Burns, the Secretary of the department, and the frauds and pillage at Pelham Bay Park.  They acknowledged that stories affecting Burns, and the manner in which he had lived, rent free, in one of the park houses, using a park laborer as his private watchman, had reached them, and they intimated that these stories had been discussed at their meeting last week, and that some action would probably soon be taken.

'The public may rest assured,' said Col. Cruger, President of the board, 'that we will go to the bottom in all matters affecting the department, and that our action will be as prompt as circumstances will permit.  During the short time we have been in office we have already found much that should be changed, and as fast as we can get at it improvements will be made.  There is much to clean out, I believe, and we will not shirk our duty.'

'Have you decided on any action regarding Burns?' Col. Cruger was asked.

'I cannot speak in advance of what we have decided to do,' was the answer.  'It would not be good policy.'

Commissioner Stiles was equally guarded.  He said the charges made by THE NEW-YORK TIMES would be carefully considered, and prompt action would follow.

'Supposing it is proved to your satisfaction,' said the reporter,  'that Burns occupied the Lorillard cottage without paying the department a cent of rent, and that he caused his coachman to be carried on the city pay rolls as a laborer?'

'Then,' replied Mr. Stiles, with much vehemence, 'I would insist that he be turned out at once.'

This opens a very sorry prospect for Burns, as he himself admitted to a reporter for THE NEW-YORK TIMES that he lived in the Lorillard cottage in Pelham Bay Park, without paying any rental, and there are dozens of persons who can testify that Peter Brown acted as coachman and man of all work for the Secretary during all the time the department pay rolls show that Brown drew regular laborer's pay from the city.

Mr. Burns grew furiously angry when the charges regarding himself and his political friends at Pelham Bay Park were submitted to him.  He first insisted that he did not know any such man as Peter Brown; had never known; but after a time, when his growing excitement made him less cautious, he admitted a rather intimate and extended acquaintance with the man.

'Never heard of a man named Peter Brown,' insisted Mr. Burns in the beginning.  'I don't know that there is such a man.'

'Then he did not act as your coachman during your stay at Pelham Bay Park?'

'No, Sir.'

'You are quite sure of that?'

'I am.'

'As a matter of fact, Mr. Burns,' asked the reporter, 'isn't the man working for you now at your place at Riverdale?'

The Secretary's face grew fiery red, and his rage went beyond all bounds.  He gave vent to a stream of violent language, and finally shouted:

'What business is it of yours who my servants are?  I employ a cook and a housemaid and other servants.  I suppose you want to know who they are.'

The excited Secretary stopped here as if waiting for an answer, and, getting none, he grew angrier than ever, finally blurting out:

'Yes, Peter Brown is my coachman today,' he exclaimed, pounding the table in front of which he sat.  'Whose business is it?  I employ him and I pay him.  He works for me, as he has a right to do.'

'Is he still on the department pay rolls?'

'No, Sir; he is not.'

'But he was.'

'He never was.'

'The pay rolls show it.'

'I don't care what they show, and I will end this interview right here.'

'Did you live in the Lorillard cottage rent free, Mr. Burns?' the reporter asked.

'What of that?  That is an old story,' was the answer given after some moments of hesitation.

'Nothing; only is it true you lived there?'

There was another silence, and then Mr. Burns said:

'Yes, I did.'

'The records do not show that you paid any rental.'

'Perhaps I didn't.  I went to live in the house at the request of the Commissioners, and therefore paid no rent.'

The Commissioners, the Secretary went on in response to questions, had asked him to Pelham Bay Park in order to 'supervise the work that was being done.'

He could not say which of the Commissioners had asked him to move there, and he could not explain how he could supervise the work being carried on, in view of the fact that he had to be in the Chambers Street offices of the department from 9 A.M. until 4 P.M., and it required three hours a day to travel back and forth.  The workmen, in consequence, were just beginning their labors when Mr. Burns left the park, and were just getting through in the evening when he returned.  The Secretary waved all these items aside, and, when he was too closely pressed, he took refuge behind the irrelevant exclamation:

'What business is it of yours who my servants are, who my coachman is, who my cook is?  Simply because I am in a public office, can't I employ whom I please?'

When these little interruptions were overcome, Mr. Burns was asked as to the pillaging of the park by the political gang that has held control there, and as to the doings of 'Jack' Elliott, his personal representative, and the carrying of the other saloon keepers on the department payrolls.

'I don't know anything about them,' answered Mr. Burns to all these questions.

'And William Burke, who, it is alleged, furnished you with a cow and with fresh vegetables in consideration of being carried on the payrolls?'

'Don't know anything about him.  Never heard of Burke in my life.'

This reference to Burke seemed to revive the memory of Peter Brown anew, and the Secretary broke forth wrathfully again:

'Whose business is it whom I employ?'

As to the free cow and vegetables, Mr. Burns declared that the story was 'a lie!'

It is perhaps interesting, in connection with Mr. Burns's statement that he keeps a coachman, cook, housemaid, and other servants, to note that his salary is only $4,000 a year, or less than $80 a week -- a rather slender sum on which to keep up such an establishment.  The men who have known him for many years down town were surprised when they heard of the coachman and the rest.

'What has he got for a coachman to drive?' they asked, and when told that he had a very complete stable outfit, they wanted to know where he could have gotten it.  There are no legitimate sources of income to be drawn on by the Secretary of the Park Department from the city, except the salary, and as Mr. Burns, previous to his advent to this department, had been merely an assistant secretary in the Fire Department, there is much speculation as to the probable manner in which he has grown rich enough to maintain the place where he now lives at Riverdale."

Source:   MAY DISMISS MR. BURNS -- Park Board Not Prepared Yet to Discuss Charges Against Him -- THE SECRETARY BECOMES ENRAGED -- Admits However, that He Lived in Lorillard Cottage and Employed Brown -- Some Wonder at His Array of Servants, N.Y. Times, Nov. 23, 1895, p. 8, col. 1 (NOTE:  Paid subscription required to access via this link.).  Click here for free version.

Big Houses Leased from City for Small Rents -- Exposed by Metz.

Father Knickerbocker as a landlord is not a success.  Perhaps it is because he is such a plethoric old fellow financially that he does not look too sharply at the acts of his agents.  'See one of the commissioners' he says, possibly, when some one steps into his office in the City Hall to inquire about a house for rent, rattling his cane upon the floor in an irritated sort of way, as if it was too small a matter for him to attend to.  So off to the Park Commissioner or some other official the visitor hurries, almost glad to be out of the presence of the gruff old gentleman.  The visitor finds that he can get almost anything to fit his purse and his taste, from an unsanitary tenement house at $200 a month to a spacious mansion fronting on the shores of Long Island Sound and surrounded by several acres of shaded ground for $25 a month.  Father Knickerbocker's agents, even, will build additions to the better houses, costing several thousands of dollars, for the benefit of the tenants without increasing the rentals.  At least that is what recent investigations indicate.

In Pelham Bay Park are still standing a number of the large country houses which were once the homes of those who owned the estates of which the park were made.  A recent report made to Father Knickerbocker's financial manager, Controller Metz, by the latter's bureau of investigation tells of some of the conditions in the Bronx parks.

The stone De Lancey house, for instance, opposite the bridge leading to Hunter Island, is rented for hotel purposes for $30 a month.  The city added an extension in the rear, containing seven new rooms on the upper floor and a pantry, storeroom and barroom on the main floor, without adding anything to the rent by way of compensation for the increased value of the premises.  The house has large grounds about it and stands on the New Rochelle road, fronting the waters of Long Island Sound.

On the same road, between Bartow and Baychester, is the Pierre Lorillard house.  It stands at the foot of a tree bordered drive on the crest of a gentle slope running down to the edge of Pelham Bay.  It is a three story house with Grecian pillars and presents a stately appearance.  A feature of the interior is the carved black walnut staircase.  This twenty room house is leased by the year at $25 a month to the Tallapoosa Club, known as the club of Louis F. Haffen, the President of the Borough of The Bronx.  It is used as a road house. . . ."

Source:  MORE "HONEST" GRAFT -- Big Houses Leased from City for Small Rents -- Exposed by Metz, N.Y. Tribune, Mar. 31, 1907, Part V, p. 2, cols. 2-4 (NOTE: Paid subscription required to access via this link.).

LEASING ITS PROPERTY. . . . No. 5.  The Pierre Lorillard
house, in Pelham Bay Park; leased to Louis Haffen's Tallapoosa
Club for $25 a month, and used as a hotel."  Source:  MORE
Rents -- Exposed by Metz, N.Y. Tribune, Mar. 31, 1907,
Part V, p. 2, cols. 2-4 (NOTE:  Paid subscription required to
access via this link.).  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

LEASING ITS PROPERTY. . . . No. 2.  The Hunter Island Inn,
in Pelham Bay Park, leased for $30 a month after extensive
improvements by the city."  Source:  MORE

Rents -- Exposed by Metz, N.Y. Tribune, Mar. 31, 1907,
Part V, p. 2, cols. 2-4 (NOTE:  Paid subscription required to

access via this link.).  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.  

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