Excavation Contractors Smith Brothers and the Beginnings of Pelhamwood in the Early Spring of 1909
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During the spring of 1909, a newly-created company known as Clifford B. Harmon & Co., Inc. began grading and developing the neighborhood we know today as Pelhamwood. While the company was new, its namesake had been involved for more than two decades in the creation of suburban developments throughout the northeast and along the Atlantic coast.
The earliest days of Pelhamwood offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of Pelham. Clifford B. Harmon formed his new company in February or March of 1909. The company's very first project was the construction and development of the neighborhood of Pelhamwood in the Town of Pelham. Harmon hired Smith Brothers to perform the work.
Smith Brothers became a Pelham institution and subsequently became involved in the development of a number of neighborhoods in Pelham. The Pelhamwood project, however, may have been among the earliest major projects undertaken by Smith Brothers.
According to Thomas F. Smith, a Smith family historian who has written a book about Paddy Smith (one of the sons of the Smith Brothers), the original Smith Brothers were not named Smith. Rather, the brothers were Charles ("Charlie") Amato and Dominic Amato, Italian immigrants who arrived in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The brothers first settled in Kingston, New York where they worked in blue stone quarries. The two brothers married two immigrant sisters from Ireland named Houlihan.
According to Smith family tradition, Charlie and Dominic Amato became acquainted with Clifford B. Harmon who was involved in real estate developments and construction projects all over the northeast. Harmon reportedly persuaded the Amato brothers to move to Pelham, change their names to "Smith," and open up an excavation contracting firm in the Village of North Pelham that they operated for many years as "Smith Brothers."
The timing of the Amato brothers could not have been better. At the time they opened Smith Brothers, suburban New York was growing in leaps and bounds. The firm was engaged in road construction throughout the New York region.
Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog provides the text of a number of brief articles describing the formation of Clifford B. Harmon & Co., Inc. and the involvement of Smith Brothers in Harmon's Pelhamwood project.
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"IN THE REAL ESTATE FIELD. . . .
A new real estate firm has been formed to be known as Clifford B. Harmon & Co., with main offices at Madison Avenue and Forty-second Street. Mr. Harmon will still be an active partner in the firm of Wood, Harmon & Co.
The first operation of the new firm will be 'Pelhamwood,' a property located at Pelham Station, on the main line of the New Haven Road."
Source: IN THE REAL ESTATE FIELD, N.Y. Times, Mar. 11, 1909, p. 13, cols. 1-2 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
"THE REALTY MARKET
A New Firm in the Real Estate Field.
A company to operate in the real estate field has been formed with Clifford B. Harmon as president. Associated with Mr. Harmon are several men whose names stand high in the financial world.
The new firm will be known as Clifford B. Harmon & Co., with main offices at Forty-second street and Madison avenue, Manhattan. The forming of this new company, however, will not prevent Mr. Harmon from devoting a large portion of his time to the old firm of Wood, Harmon & Co., in which he still retains his interest. This company, which has been in business for twenty-two years, will continue as heretofore.
The first operation of the new firm will be Pelhamwood, a property located at Pelham Station, on the main line of the New Haven Railroad. This is a high class proposition and will be sold on the easy payment plan. It is now being rapidly developed and laid out."
Source: THE REALTY MARKET -- A New Firm in the Real Estate Field, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar. 11, 1909, p. 3, col. 3 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
"Development Work at Pelhamwood.
At Pelhamwood, the new Westchester development at Pelhamwood Station [sic], on the main line of the New Haven Road, work is rapidly progressing. Smith Brothers, contractors, have the work in hand and are at present laying gas mains along Harmon and Highbrook Avenues. Just as soon as this task has been completed, these avenues will be macadamized and cement walks laid. Other streets will be graded and macadamized as rapidly as possible. The property will have practically every city improvement, and no effort will be spared by Clifford B. Harmon & Co. to make Pelhamwood a thoroughly high-class residential property."
Source: Development Work at Pelhamwood, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 1909, p. 12, col. 5 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
This week at Pelhamwood, the new Westchester development at Pelhawood Station [sic], on the main line of the New Haven road, is rapidly progressing. The contractors are at present laying gas mains along Harmon and Highbrook avenues. As soon as this has been completed, these avenues will be macadamized and cement walks laid.
The balance of the streets will be graded and macadamized rapidly. The property will have practically every city improvement, and no expenses or effort will be spared by the developers, Clifford B. Harmon & Co., to make Pelhamwood a thoroughly high class residential property."
Source: PELHAMWOOD DEVELOPMENT, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar. 21, 1909, p. 10, cols. 5-6 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
"Westchester County. . . .
In sections of Westchester county improvement work was started several weeks ago, and on one new property called Pelhamwood gangs of men have been busy for nearly a month grading streets and laying pipes preparatory to putting down macadam and sidewalks. Pelhamwood is but thirty-three minutes ride from Grand Central Station and is located in a neighborhood well built up. While the property is not quite ready, its owners have decided to place it on sale before the improvements have been completed and a tea house where refreshments will be served is well under way. . . ."
Source: Westchester County, The Sun [NY, NY], Mar. 28, 1909, p. 25, col. 2 (Note: Paid subscription required to access via this link).
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Periodically I have written about Pelhamwood and Clifford B. Harmon, a principal developer of Pelhamwood. For those interested in a comprehensive history of the early development of Pelhamwood, see Bell, Blake A., The Early Development of Pelhamwood, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 37, Sept. 17, 2004, p. 12, col. 2. For earlier postings about Pelhamwood and Clifford B. Harmon, see:
Tue., Mar. 01, 2016: Unusual 1909 Advertising Pamphlet for Pelhamwood.
Tue., Feb. 02, 2016: Early Pelhamwood Advertisements with Important Sketches of the New Development.
Tue., Nov. 10, 2015: The New Development of Pelhamwood as it Was in 1913.
Mon., Mar. 16, 2015: Newspaper References and Advertisements Regarding Development of Pelhamwood.
Fri., Sep. 26, 2014: 1909 Advertisements Show How the New Development of Pelhamwood Was Marketed to New Yorkers.
Sat., Jan. 25, 2014: Putting the Finishing Touches on the Lovely New Church in Pelhamwood in 1923.
Mon., Feb. 1, 2010: Obituary of Richard B. Ferris of Pelhamwood.
Thu., Oct. 11, 2007: Biographical Data and Photographs of Clifford B. Harmon Who Developed Pelhamwood.
Tue., Jul. 10, 2007: An Early Event in the History of Pelhamwood.
Thu., Jun. 21, 2007: Information About "Aeronautic" Exploits of Clifford B. Harmon Who Developed Pelhamwood in Pelham.
Thu. Aug. 10, 2006: The New Development of Pelhamwood Gets Approval for its Proposed Sewage System in 1912.
Tue., Nov. 15, 2005: Plaque Dedicated at the Historic Pelhamwood Clock Tower.
Mon., Sep. 12, 2005: Pelhamwood Association Celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 1942.
Thu., May 12, 2005: Clifford B. Harmon, Developer of Pelhamwood.
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