Program for Laying the Cornerstone of Today's Manor Club in 1921
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Late in the afternoon on June 28 1921, hundreds gathered to lay the cornerstone of today's Manor Club located at the intersection of Esplanade and Black Street. The clubhouse was the club's second. The cornerstone of the first clubhouse was laid on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1887. See Mon., Feb. 08, 2016: Laying of the Cornerstone of the First Manor Club Clubhouse on Thanksgiving Day in 1887.
By 1921, the Manor Club had 433 members and had outgrown its beautiful clubhouse designed by Pelham Manor architect F. Carles Merry. On that early summer evening in 1921, members of the club gathered at the site to lay the cornerstone for the clubhouse that replaced the first one designed by Merry. As with the cornerstone laying ceremony for the first clubhouse in 1887, we know much about the cornerstone laying ceremony for today's clubhouse in 1921.
Significantly, Henry Waters Taft of Pelham Manor delivered the keynote address at the laying of both cornerstones in 1887 and in 1921. Taft served as the first President of the Manor Club before the organization evolved into a women's club.
Henry Waters Taft was a brother of William Howard Taft who served as 27th President of the United States. Henry was an attorney who began his career in 1884 as a “salaried” associate with the New York City law firm of Simpson Thacher & Barnum, now known as Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. In 1889 he joined the law firm of Strong & Cadwalader, known today as Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP. Although late in life Taft had a residence in New York City, he lived for many years in Pelham Manor and even served on the Executive Committee of the Pelham Manor Protective Club during the 1880’s before the Village of Pelham Manor was incorporated.
Famed Pelham Manor resident and Manor Club stalwart, Mrs. Robert C. Black, used the same silver trowel from the first cornerstone laying in 1887 to lay the cornerstone in 1921.
The program scheduled for the cornerstone laying on June 28, 1921 was as follows:
- Mrs. James F. ("Joan") Secor, president of the club, presided
- The Gloria Trumpeters furnished some music
- Invocation by the Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary, minister of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church
- Hymn: "O Lord of Hosts" (Duke Street version)
- Address, Henry W. Taft, first president of the Manor Club
- Vocal solo, Miss Rose Wirthlin
- Laying of the cornerstone by Mrs. Robert C. Black
- Short salute by the Gloria Trumpeters and a moment of silence observed in memory of the departed members of the Manor Club listed as Robert C. Black, John H. Dey, James F. Secor, Sr., William K. Gillette, James M. Townsend, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Roper, William Allen Smith, Mr. and Mrs. G. Osmar Reynolds, Ezra T. Gililland, Charles H. Coffin, George Barnett and Charlotte Cowles
- Song: Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot
- Address by Joseph C. Wilberding
- Benediction by the Rev. Herbert H. Haight, Rector of the Church of the Redeemer
- More music by the Gloria Trumpeters
As one might expect, the program of the cornerstone laying ceremony in 1921 was very similar to the first ceremony in 1887. The clubhouse built on the site following the 1921 ceremony stands today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Below is the text of a brief article published in 1921 that describes the planned program for the laying of the cornerstone of the new Manor Club building later the same day. It is followed by a citation and link to its source.
Miss Helen Walker was the guest of Miss Cockle of the manor last week.
Witherbee Black was president of his class at the reunion held at Princeton University.
Mr. and Mrs. J. Frank Duffy have returned from Asheville, N.C. where they spent one week.
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar H. Laing have as their guest Miss Emily Goldthwait, of Hanover, N.H.
Harris B. Fisher, Jr. has returned to his home on the Shore road for the summer vacation period.
Dr. and Mrs. Percy Norman Williams have closed their home in Siwanoy place for the summer and gone to their summer home at Lake Cayuga.
Mrs. Robert C. Black and Mrs. James F. Secor attended the lecture given yesterday at Rye by Mrs. Morrill Hamlin on 'The Japanese Monroe Doctrine.'
Miss Marie Fenlon, of 167 Secor lane, sailed Saturday on the steamship Calamards to visit Miss Mercita Hornsby, whose father is the president of a trust company in Cuba. Miss Fenlon will probably be away about six weeks.
Village president H. W. Nuckols attended the installation of Rowland Angell as President of Yale Universtiy last week in New Haven. Mr. Nuckols was designated as the representative of Indiana State University, his alma mater, at the exercises.
Prior to her departure for Allenhurst, N.J., Mrs. George W. Grote gave a bridge party at her residence 554 Fowler avenue last Wednesday afternoon. The friends present were Mrs. John Heck and Mrs. Edwin Romaine of Jersey City, Miss Hastings and Mrs. H. C. Dornhelm of Bronxville, Mrs. G. Hirsch, Miss Mirriam Harris and Mrs. Edna Horton, of Pelham Manor.
The corner stone of the new Manor club will be laid at 5:30 o'clock this afternoon with appropriate ceremonies. The program will include an address by Henry W. Taft, brother of ex-President William Howard Taft, who was the first president of the Manor club. The corner stone will be laid by Mrs. Robert C. Black, using the same silver trowel used by her at the laying of the corner stone of the old building on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1887. There is also an unusual coincidence in connection with the ceremony. At the first corner stone laying ceremony, it was intended originally to hold the program outdoors, but after the laying, the party repaired to the residence of one of the members, John H. Dey, and had them there. The date of this year's ceremony, June 28, is the birthday anniversary of Mr. Dey. The program will start promptly at the hour set and will begin with Mrs. James F. Secor, president of the club presiding. The Gloria Trumpeters will first furnish some music, then will come the invocation by the Rev. Lewis Gaston Leary, minister of Huguenot Memorial church; Hymn, O Lord of Hosts (Duke street); address, Henry W. Taft, first president of the Manor club; vocal solo, Miss Rose Wirthlin; Laying of the Corner Stone by Mrs. Robert C. Black; song, Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot; address, by Joseph C. Wilberding; benediction by the Rev. Herbert H. Haight, rector of the church of the Redeemer; music, by the Gloria Trumpeters. Immediately after the laying of the corner stone, the Gloria Trumpeters will give a short salute and a moment of silence observed in respect to the memory of the departed members of the Manor club. These are Robert C. Black, John H. Dey, James F. Secor, Sr., William K. Gillette, James M. Townsend, Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Roper, William Allen Smith, Mr. and Mrs. G. Osmar Reynolds, Ezra T. Gililland, Charles H. Coffin, George Barnett and Charlotte Cowles. The membership of the Manor club is at the present time composed of 433 women, the men joining the Pelham Country club."
Source: Pelham Manor, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 28, 1921, p. 11, col. 3.
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I have written about the Manor Club and its history on a number of occasions. See, e.g.:
Bell, Blake A., Early History of the Manor Club, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 20, May 14, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.
Tue., Dec. 13, 2005: The Manor Club's First Clubhouse Built in 1887-1888.
Wed., Dec. 28, 2005: The Mystery of the "Manor Club Girl" That Set Pelham Tongues Wagging in 1913.
Fri., Aug. 4, 2006: Early Images of the Original and Current Clubhouse Structures of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor, New York.
Mon., Feb. 15, 2010: Early History of the Manor Club in the Village of Pelham Manor.
Thu., Sep. 25, 2014: The Manor Club's Celebration of its Golden Anniversary in 1932.
Mon., Feb. 08, 2016: Laying of the Cornerstone of the First Manor Club Clubhouse on Thanksgiving Day in 1887.