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, June 01, 2016

Lovely Old Post Card View of the Pelham Manor Station and Design Studies for the Station

There are many important early images of the Pelham of yore preserved on early 20th century post cards.  Many of those images, like one featured today, depict Pelham landmarks that no longer exist, making them all the more important.  

A lovely stone train station designed by nationally-renowned architect Cass Gilbert once stood in the Village of Pelham Manor on the so-called branch line.  The station replaced an earlier wooden structure and stood at the end of the Esplanade at track level along the train tracks that now serve Amtrak and freight trains. The station was razed in the mid-1950s to make way for I-95 (the New England Thruway). 

The post card image below shows the Pelham Manor Train Station in about 1910.  The image is significant for a host of reasons.  For example, it shows the clocks that once adorned the structure to keep Pelham Manor commuters on time.  (At least one of those clocks was removed from the building when it was razed in the 1950s and provided to the Village of Pelham Manor, although its whereabouts today are unknown to this author.)

The image, taken as a steam locomotive pulls a train into the station, also shows the Bishop's Crook lights that once adorned the platform and the truss supporting the canopy that protected commuters and rail passengers from the weather.  In the right foreground is a horse-drawn carriage apparently loaded with goods and unattended on the station platform.

The station plaza where carriages gathered to meet incoming trains at the end of the workday and where drivers left their harried commuters to catch their trains may be seen in the area behind the horse-drawn carriage.  

Somewhat surprisingly, in the distance at the extreme left of the image is an as-yet unidentified structure with painted letters on its side that cannot be read.  The structure appears to stand adjacent to the tracks, but does not appear to be shown on maps of the time.  It presents a mystery yet to be resolved.  

Post Card View of Pelham Manor Depot Shown on Post Card
Postmarked in 1910.  Source:  Author's Collection.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge

The Library of Congress has in its collections what appear to be two wonderful "studies" of the station prepared by Cass Gilbert as he designed the structure.  One of them is particularly intriguing because it shows two views of the station and, believe it or not, was drawn on the verso of a "used bridge whist score card" -- nearly the proverbial "back of an envelope."  The studies are entitled "Pelham Manor Station" and are dated June 27, 1907.  Sadly, it appears that high resolution digital copies of the studies are not available in the online digital collections of the Library of Congress.  All that is available are two so-called "thumbnail" images showing the studies. Below is a detail showing the two views.  It has been enhanced to the extent possible.  It certainly is sufficiently detailed to show that by June 27, 1907, Cass Gilbert had imagined a design for the Pelham Manor Train Station much like the final version of the station built to serve the tiny community.  

Cass Gilbert Design Studies for the Pelham Manor Train
Station, Dated June 27, 1907 and Prepared on the Back
of a Used Bridge Whist Score Card.  Source:  Collections
of the Library of Congress.  NOTE:  Click on Image
to Enlarge.

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