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.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Pelham Bridge Hotel Used by Col. Delancey Astor Kane's Pelham Coach Burned Down in 1882

Beginning in the mid-19th century, a surprisingly large number of small hotels sprang up near Pelham Bridge where the Hutchinson River empties into Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound.  Indeed, a map published in 1868 shows three hotels near the south end of the Pelham Bridge not far from the Lorillard Cottage (which shortly thereafter was converted to the Arcularius Hotel).  The hotels included Charles Freeman's, David Blizzard's (including his boat rental facility), and the Lawrence Hotel.  

For more than forty years the proprietors of these and various additional hotels at the bridge changed frequently.  To make matters worse, newspapers were sloppy in distinguishing among the various hotels, choosing instead to refer to most of the hotels as "Pelham Bridge Hotel."  Furthermore, research has revealed that the proprietors often did not own the hotels and, indeed, moved from hotel to hotel as they changed jobs.  Thus, it is particularly difficult to identify specific buildings when news accounts reference merely the "Pelham Bridge Hotel" or the "Hotel at Pelham Bridge."

Detail From 1868 Map Showing Hotels Near Lorillard
Cottage at the Southern End of Pelham Bridge.  Source:
Atlas of New York and Vicinity from Actual Surveys by and
Under the Direction of F.W. Beers, p. 14 (NY, NY:  Beers, Ellis
& Soule, 1868).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides a good example of the difficulty in identifying a specific building.  It describes a terrible fire in 1882 that destroyed a historic hotel at Pelham Bridge owned by Mrs. S. E. Layton and leased and managed by the proprietor, Robert S. Spurge.  At first blush, a local news account would seem to suggest that the hotel was the old Arcularius Hotel located in the former Lorillard Cottage, particularly since the news account states that at one time Harry Arcularius operated the place and Colonel Delancey Kane always stopped his Tally Ho coach to Pelham at the hotel.  The old Lorillard Cottage, however, did not burn in 1882.  It survived until later.  (Of course, when the Tally Ho stopped at the Arcularius Hotel, it was within a few feet of a number of other hotels that served the area known as a resort getaway for New York City residents.)

In the early morning hours of October 28, 1882, a historic hotel called "the old Pelham Bridge Hotel" at Pelham Bridge burned to the ground.  According to one account, the structure had been used as a hotel since about 1852 when it was owned by Larry Fowler.  At the time, the hotel was perfectly located on what was considered to be one of the most beautiful spots along one of the most beautiful roads leading from New York City to the east.  According to one news report:

"Not a driving party thought of going by without stopping.  Commodore Vanderbilt always stopped to have his horses watered, and all the sporting men of New York, New Rochelle and throughout Westchester County, occasionally passed a merry evening there.  It was on the only good drive from the city.  The road began at Corporal Thompson's place, which was a frame building, where the Fifth Avenue Hotel now stands, and cutting diagonally across Madison Square Garden to Harlem Bridge, and so along to the inn, six miles beyond."

Robert Spurge was a friend of Colonel Delancey Kane.  For a while, Spurge operated the Huguenot Hotel on Main Street in New Rochelle.  During much of that time, Col. Kane ran his Pelham Coach to the Huguenot Hotel in New Rochelle.  Spurge, however, moved from the Huguenot Hotel to operate a hotel at Pelham Bridge.  When the new coaching season began on May 1, 1882, Col. Delancey Kane used Spurge's Hotel at Pelham Bridge as the terminus of his coaching route.

One coaching account published in 1882 contained a brief description of the interior of Spurge's Hotel.  It said:

"[T]he party are marshalled by Landlord Spurge into the dining room. What a quaint bit of a room it is! -- the room of all rooms for a coaching party. There are odd old pictures on the walls; curious and antique looking pieces of furniture are scattered around; grotesque, old-fashioned plates and bowls are tucked in racks and shelves. There are stuffed birds, with legends hitched to them, and a general flavor of homely, sociable ease about it all that eminently befits the occasion. Dinner is served. And such a dinner! Nothing with foreign names and tastes. Not a bit of it. Robust, hearty fare fit for the road and roadsters. Rare, juicy beef, fowl done to a nicety, mellow strawberries and cream, with such an atmosphere and such surroundings as would make a glutton of the veriest dyspeptic."

Source:  AGAIN ON THE ROAD -- The Tally-Ho's First Trip Through the Freshening Country, N.Y. Herald, May 2, 1882, Quadruple Sheet, p. 10, cols. 1-2.

Clearly Spurge's Hotel was magnificently furnished.  It was thought that the fire began in the hotel kitchen.  There were no organized fire fighting units in any of the nearby communities at the time.  The hotel and its furnishings were a total loss.  

Spurge owned the furnishings, but leased the structure from Mrs. S. E. Layton, wife of William Layton.  The Laytons maintained three fire insurance policies on the structure aggregating for total coverage of $6,300.  That entire amount was paid to Mrs. Layton by the three insurers in a matter of weeks, before mid-December.  About a month later, Robert S. Spurge collected the full amount of insurance on his personal property and hotel furniture lost in the October 28 fire.  He received $4,000.  

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Below is the text of a series of articles describing the fire at Spurge's Hotel at Pelham Bridge on October 28, 1882.  Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.


Col. Kane's Tally Ho began making regular daily trips between New York and Pelham Bridge on Monday last.  The coach arrives at Spurge's hotel on the South side of the bridge, every day at twelve o'clock. . . ."

Source:  WESTCHESTER, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 5, 1882, Vol. XIII, No. 659, p. 3, cols. 2-3.   

"Spurge's Pelham Bridge hotel was burned down at 4.30 o'clock this morning.  Loss, $10,000.  Insured."

Source:  [Untitled], The New Rochelle Pioneer, Oct. 28, 1882, p. 3, col. 5.  

"Spurges' Hotel at Pelham Bridge, Westchester County, was totally destroyed by fire at 2 o'clock this morning.  The extent of the loss is not ascertained."

Source:  [Untitled], The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 28, 1882, p. 4, col. 2.  

"A Landmark Removed.

As briefly stated in our last issue, at 4 o'clock on Saturday morning last, the old Pelham Bridge Hotel, at Pelham Bridge, was burned to the gournd.  Thirty years ago Larry Fowler became landlord.  The house was then in its glory.  Not a driving party thought of going by without stopping.  Commodore Vanderbilt always stopped to have his horses watered, and all the sporting men of New York, New Rochelle and throughout Westchester County, occasionally passed a merry evening there.  It was on the only good drive from the city.  The road began at Corporal Thompson's place, which was a frame building, where the Fifth Avenue Hotel now stands, and cutting diagonally across Madison Square Garden to Harlem Bridge, and so along to the inn, six miles beyond.  After Fowler, Harry Arcularius ran the house for a number of years.  Last spring, R. S. Spurge, who formerly ran the Huguenot Hotel of this village, leased the hotel and premises now burned, and furnished and kept the same in magnificent style.  Col. De Lancy [sic] Kane's Tallyho coach always stopped at the inn when running to New Rochelle.  Mr. Spurge was in the city at the time of the fire.  It is thought that the fire broke out in the kitchen.  The loss is supposed to be between $10,000 and $15,000.  William Layton was the owner."

Source:  A Landmark Removed, The New Rochelle Pioneer, Nov. 4, 1882, p. 3, col. 3.  


The Pelham Bridge Hotel owned by Mrs. S. E. Layton was totally consumed by fire on the 28th day of October 1882.  There were three policies of insurance on the hotel and saloon aggregating $6,300.  This amount was distributed between the Westchester, the Home and the Pacific Fire insurance companies.  Charles H. Coe, agent for Mrs Layton has within two weeks from time of presenting his proof of loss received the entire amount from the companies."

Source:  PROMPT AND SATISFACTORY SETTLEMENT, The New Rochelle Pioneer, Dec. 16, 1882, p. 3, col. 4.  

"Paid for His Furniture.

The full amount of insurance on personal property and Hotel furniture at Pelham Bridge Hotel has been collected and paid over to Mr. Robert S. Spurge, through his counsel C. E. Kene, one day this week.  The amount was $4000."

Source:  Paid for His Furniture, The New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 13, 1883, p. 3, col. 5.  

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Below is a list of articles and blog postings that I previously have posted regarding the subject of "Coaching to Pelham."  

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach" (Sep. 2003).

Thu., Jul. 28, 2016:  The Chicago Tribune Lampooned Coaching to Pelham in 1884.

Wed., Jul. 30, 2014:  Yet Another Attempt in 1894 to Resurrect the Glory Days of Coaching to Pelham.  

Tue., Jul. 29, 2014:  Wonderful Description of Coaching to Pelham on the Tally-Ho's First Trip of the Season on May 1, 1882.

Wed., Apr. 14, 2010:  Col. Delancey Kane Changes the Timing and Route of The Pelham Coach in 1876.

Tue., Sep. 08, 2009:  1877 Advertisement with Timetable for the Tally Ho Coach to Pelham.

Mon., Mar. 23, 2009:  The Greyhound and the Tantivy-- The Four-in-Hand Coaches that Succeeded Col. Delancey Kane's "Tally-Ho" to Pelham.

Fri., Jan. 16, 2009: The Final Trip of the First Season of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" in 1876.

Thu., Jan. 15, 2009:  The First Trip of Col. Delancey Kane's "New-Rochelle and Pelham Four-in-Hand Coach Line" on May 1, 1876.

Thu., Mar. 06, 2008:  Auctioning the Tantivy's Horses at the Close of the 1886 Coaching Season.

Wed., Mar. 05, 2008:  Coaching to Pelham: The Tantivy Has an Accident on its Way to Pelham in 1886.  

Thu., Jan. 24, 2008:  An Account of the First Trip of Colonel Delancey Kane's Tally-Ho to Open the 1880 Coaching Season.

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008: Brief "History of Coaching" Published in 1891 Shows Ties of Sport to Pelham, New York

Thursday, August 3, 2006: Images of Colonel Delancey Kane and His "Pelham Coach" Published in 1878.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005: Taunting the Tantivy Coach on its Way to Pelham: 1886.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005: 1882 Engraving Shows Opening of Coaching Season From Hotel Brunswick to Pelham Bridge.

Thu., Jun. 09, 2005:  Coaching to Pelham: Colonel Delancey Astor Kane Did Not Operate the Only Coach to Pelham.

Fri., Feb. 11, 2005:  Col. Delancey Kane's "Pelham Coach", Also Known as The Tally-Ho, Is Located.

Bell, Blake A., Col. Delancey Kane and "The Pelham Coach", The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XII, No. 38, Sept. 26, 2003, p. 1, col. 1.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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