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, January 23, 2017

Pelham's Bay View Hotel In 1885

The 1870s and the 1880s were the Golden Age of summer resorts in the Town of Pelham with most facilities located in the Pelham Bridge and City Island area of the Town.  One of several spectacular summer resorts at the time was the Bay View Hotel, occasionally referenced as the "Bay View House" and "Von Liehn's Bay View Hotel."  I have written before about Pelham's Bay View Hotel.  See, e.g., Fri., Jan. 23, 2015:  The Bay View Hotel on City Island, a Pelham Landmark for Many Years.

In 1885, the New Rochelle Pioneer published a brief, but detailed and significant description of the Bay View Hotel.  The description sheds important light on the hotel and its services in 1885.  For example, the article states "A large hall, or ball room was built last year, and is beautifully fitted up."  The "hall," built in early 1884, became an important City Island social center that is referenced in countless news stories as "Von Liehn's Hall" and "Von Liehn's Pavilion."  

As such references suggest, the proprietor of the Bay View Hotel was Carsten Von Liehn.  Von Liehn was born in 1839 in the Kingdom of Hanover part of today's Lower Saxony in Germany.  He became a naturalized U.S. citizen on January 11, 1866.  Even that early he was listed as a restauranteur by profession.  By the 1880s he had become one of the Town of Pelham's most successful hoteliers and summer resort operators. 

The Bay View Hotel, City Island, Circa 1904.
Source:  Image from Post Card Postmarked
in 1904.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Detail from Map of City Island Published in 1899 Showing
Bay View Hotel Complex in Block Bounded to the North
Bridge Street and to the West by Today's City Island
Avenue. Source: Board of Public Improvements Topographical
Etc, in City Island, Borough of the Bronx (1899) (Available via Lionel
Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library).
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Von Liehn operated the Bay View Hotel, a hotel and a summer resort boarding house that overlooked City Island Bridge.  It faced what was then Pelham Bay, hence the name "Bay View Hotel."  Additionally, the northeasterly and easterly sides of the hotel had beautiful uninterrupted views of Long Island Sound.  

In 1885, the Bay View Hotel could accommodate up to 200 guests.  It had a large dining hall and a kitchen with the capacity to supply four hundred meals.  The dining room was immediately above the kitchen, so a large dumb waiter connected the two.  Von Liehn's Hall, a large ballroom built in early 1884, was an important part of the facility.  It attracted large gatherings including dances, masquerade balls, and the like.  

Given the nature of transportation at the time, the hotel complex included a large stable and barn "for the convenience of guests."  A large tree-lined lawn provided a "cool retreat for ladies and children" on hot summer days.  The complex included a long, sloping, and rocky beach that -- at the time -- Von Liehn was trying to clean up and convert to a lovely sandy beach.  The beach area included bath houses to facilitate swimming, bathing, and water sports including boating and fishing.    

"Bay View Hotel, CITY ISLAND, N.Y. City."  A Post Card
Image of the Bay View Hotel Postmarked in 1913 After
the Area Including City Island Had Been Annexed From
Pelham by New York City.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

Below is the text of the brief article about the Bay View Hotel that appeared in the New Rochelle Pioneer.  The text is followed by a citation and link to its source.  

"Bay View House, City Island.

This hotel and summer boarding house has advantages that can be surpassed by few hotels in this vicinity.  Its proprietor is Mr. C. Von Liehn.  Situated at the foot of City Island Bridge, it is directly in the road of travel, and stages and other conveyances for the convenience of the public are continually passing.  It faces Pelham Bay, from which it takes its name, 'Bay View House,' having a full view of the surrounding country.  From the north east and easterly side of the hotel there is an uninterrupted view of the Sound.  The hotel has accommodations for nearly 200 guests, the rooms all being well lighted and ventilated.  There is a large dining room directly over the kitchen, a dumb waiter connecting the two.  The kitchen has a capacity for supplying 400 dinners.  A large hall, or ball room was built last year, and is beautifully fitted up.  A barn and stable is connected with the hotel for the convenience of guests.  A lawn, surrounded with trees, affords a pleasant and cool retreat for ladies and children, during the hot days of summer.  In front of this house are a number of bathing houses, and their number is to be increased.  The beach is a gradual slope, and the proprietor intends to have all the rocks and stones cleared away, and a sandy beach made.  Boating and fishing can be indulged in to the heart's content, and for the convenience of his guests, Mr. Von Leihn is having a plank walk, over 200 feet long, run into the water, so that a landing from boats can be made at all times."

Source:  Bay View House, City Island, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 18, 1885, p. 3, col. 4.  

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