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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

North Pelham Experienced an Unprecedented Building Boom in 1906 and 1907

It may have been real estate marketing hype, but there was a story to be told behind the blaring newspaper headline published on February 9, 1907:  "Pelham's Advance is the Greatest Known in History."  Indeed, during 1906 and 1907, Pelham was in the midst of an amazing real estate boom with single family residences, two-family residences, apartment buildings, commercial structures, and even the Sanborn Map Company factory being built.

The American and Pelham economies were humming.  Contractors in Pelham were building homes on speculation, hoping to sell them upon completion.  The expansion, however, soon would come to an abrupt end.  

In October, 1907, a failed stock manipulation scheme to corner the market in the stock of F. Augustus Heinze's United Copper Company caused the Panic of 1907 (also known as the "1907 Bankers' Panic" or the "Knickerbocker Crisis").  The economy already had begun to slow into recession by mid-October, but the collapse of the stock of United Copper Company sealed the nation's economic fate.  Runs on banks and trust companies followed and the panic spread throughout the nation leading to bankruptcies of many state and local banks and businesses.  

Yet, before the economy slowed, Pelham experienced a building boom like none it had ever experienced.  Such a boom should come as no surprise.  The population of the town was growing like never before.  Indeed, between 1900 and 1910, the population of Pelham nearly doubled from 1,571 to 2,998.

Newspaper articles began noting the major building boom as early as August, 1906.  By February, 1907, construction was exploding.  Major projects were recently finished or still underway including construction of the Sanborn Map Company factory along upper Pelhamdale Avenue near Chester Park, the new convent for Sisters from the Order of St. Francis located adjacent to St. Catharine's, six new apartment buildings, dozens and dozens of new homes including a surprising number of two-family residences (some of which were built on speculation).  

The boom soon turned to bust as the after-effects of the Panic of 1907 washed over the region.  Yet, for a brief time in 1906 and 1907, Pelham's advance was, indeed, "the Greatest Known in History" -- that is, at least in the history of the tiny little Town of Pelham.

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Many New Structures Planned and a Number Have Already Been Started There

North Pelham, Aug. 21. -- No three months in the history of the village have witnessed as much building as has been going on during this length of time this summer.  By winter twenty-three new buildings will have been erected.  Some of these are in the course of construction while others will be started very soon.

It can be plainly seen that this building boom will mean that the population of the village will rapidly increase.  It would not be surprising to see North Pelham number one thousand people by the time the Sanborne Map company has been running a year.

It was stated yesterday that a $4,200 building is to be erected by a local resident at the corner of Fourth avenue and Fourth street [today's Lincoln Avenue].  It will be 22 feet by 47 feet.  There will be a store on the first floor and five rooms, and on the second floor, ten rooms.  Two houses are to be erected on the corner of Sixth avenue and Sixth street which will contain all modern improvements.  The three-story apartment house at the corner of Fifth avenue and Fifth street is in the course of construction the foundation of which has been completed.  Other buildings which are being erected are a two-story dwelling house by Jacob Heisser, on Fourth street, which will probably be ready for occupancy by October 1; a fine house by Louis Epple, on Seventh street; a house on First avenue and another on Second avenue, both on the corner of Fifth street; a house by Eugene Keiser, on First avenue and Fifth street, and another on River avenue, by John Miller.

The convent will probably be ready for occupancy by the first of October, while the map factory [i.e., the Sanborn Map Building] will probably be finished and in operation by the close of the year and possibly before that time.

John Mouse will begin the erection of a two-story house at the corner of Seventh street and Sixth avenue.  It was stated yesterday that another apartment house will probably be build on Sixth street near Fifth avenue in the near future, as well as two more flats in that locality."

Source:  NORTH PELHAM HAS A BOOM IN BUILDING AT PRESENT TIME -- Many New Structures Planned and a Number Have Already Been Started There, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 21, 1906, p. 2, cols. 4-5.

"Pelham's Advance is the Greatest Known in History

North Pelham, Feb. 9 -- The year 1906 will long be remembered by the residents of this village as the banner year in the real estate line.  Never before in the history of this village has so much building been witnessed is during the past year.  Heretofore the record used to be considered a good one if four or five new houses were erected in one year.  This year many times that number, of houses have been constructed.

A feature of the past year's building activities is the fact that with one exception all of the new houses within the village limits were put up north on Fourth street.  This one exception is the house of Jacob Heisser which however stands on Fourth street on the corner of Sixth avenue.  So it can be truthfully said that the southern boundary line for new houses in North Pelham the past year was fourth street.  This year it will be different as it is known that several new houses will be built south of Fourth street one of which will be the new residence of Mrs. Hill.

Just what was the actual cause of this building boom in the village is unknown.  Some attribute it to the establishment of the new buildings of the Sanborn Map Publishing Co.  Probably the erection of these buildings could be considered a factor in attracting new residents.  Whatever the cause, it is a fact that many new houses have been constructed.  These include attractive residences in Chester Park as well as on streets north of the school house; also several apartment houses on and in the vicinity of Fifth avenue and Sixth street.  

Several new houses have been erected in Chester Park, which are attractive looking and modern in every respect.  John Lambert has built two new houses on lots 82 and 84 on Pelhamdale avenue.  Each is a two-story house for two families, and both are now occupied.

On lot 86 is a new house constructed by Peter Rohrs.  It is located on the corner of Pine and Pelhamdale avenues, and is a modern residence with veranda, etc.  It is for two families.

On lot 85, John Rohrs has erected a two-story, two-family house on the corner of Pine and Linden avenues.  Another house is that of Mr. Lambert, which is situated on lot 83 on Linden avenue.  It is two stories high and is for two families.  A two-story house is in the course of construction on lot 58, which is located on Linden avenue, between Central and Willow avenues.  It is also for two families.

Still another house is being built on lot 80, in Chester Park on the corner of Central and Pelhamdale avenues.  There are also new houses on lots 46 and 47.  That on 46 is located on Chestnut avenue, between Oak and Brook streets.  These houses are all of the modern kind, well constructed and attractive in appearance.

The most unique house in the village of North Pelham is that erected this last year on lot 76, on Pelhamdale avenue, between central and Willow avenues.  It is what is known as a 'bungalow' of the style similar to the kind found in the west in the cyclone districts.  This style is also found extensively in India and in the Far East generally.  It is a one-story tiled house with verandas, and is attractive looking, tho very unique in its construction.

On lot 386, River avenue, north of Sixth street, Joseph Miller has completed the erection of a two-story single family house.  It is what is known as a 'shingle house' with a concrete foundation.  It has a veranda, bay windows.  It contains seven rooms, bath, etc.

On lot 398, River avenue, north of Sixth street, Robert Patterson is erected a large, commodious looking residence.  The foundation is of concrete; the first story of wood and the second story of shingle.  It is one of the most modern structures in the village and very attractive looking.  I contains ten rooms, bath, etc.  It is heated by means of a hot water plant.  Mr. Patterson expects to have the house completed soon.

Eugene Kayser has built a modern residence on lot 355 on First avenue, between Fifth and Sixty streets.  It is a shingle house with a stone foundation, and has been constructed in the form of a cross.  It has eight rooms and bath and is heated by a hot water plant.  

Another fine, commodious residence erected during the past year is that of Mrs. Anna Pickhardt on lot 344, corner of Second avenue and sixth street.  This house contains ten rooms and bath.  It is a shingled house with a stone foundation and modern improvements.  It is heated by furnace and occupied by Mrs. Pickhardt.

Daniel Maus has in the course of construction a neat looking house on lot 55 corner Seventh street and Sixth avenue.  It is a two-story frame house, with veranda and bay windows.  Mr. Maus expects to occupy it March 1 or thereabouts.

Another house built during the past year is that of ex-Village President Jacob Heisser on the corner of Fourth street and Sixth avenue.  It is shingled, has a stone foundation, and is 24 by 30 feet in dimensions.  It contains eight rooms and bath and all modern improvements.  It has water, gas and is heated by hot air.  The house stands on high ground.  A stone wall beautifies the premises.  The trimmings of the house are in white, while the shingles are stained.  The rooms are all of good size.

Two other houses were constructed during the year 1906, which should add to the attractiveness of the neighborhood in which they are situated.  These houses were built by Mr. Erickson and Mr. Fritz.  Mr. Fritz has erected a two-story shingled house on Second street between First and Second avenues.  That built by Mr. Erickson is conspicuous for its fine appearance.  It is located on Fifth street.  Both of these houses have red roofs and for that reason are quite distinguishable from the others in the locality.

The erection of six apartment houses in this village during the past year is a real estate event of peculiar significance and importance.  These flats are not as yet completed but when they are, they will accommodate in all thirty-four families.  One of the best of these buildings is the brick structure which has been constructed by Frank Utano on the east side of Fifth avenue near Sixth street.  It is three stories high and will accommodate six families.  Each family will have five rooms and bath.  It will be ready probably for occupancy, March 1.

On the west side of Fifth avenue on the corner of Sixth street, is a three-story wooden apartment house being erected by a Mr. Smithson, of Williamsbridge.  It will accommodate twelve families.  Four other smaller wooden apartment houses are being built in that locality.  Three are on the north side of Sixth street between Fourth and Fifth avenues, while the other is on the easterly side of Fourth avenue near Sixth street.  Each of these houses will accommodate four families, and are two stories high.

A two-story brick building is being erected on Sixth avenue near Seventh street. . . .

William Barry has the course of construction of a two and a half story frame house with stone foundation opposite the residence of Judge Karbach on First avenue.  It will be modern in every detail with good sized rooms, a fine veranda and all improvements.

David Lyon will complete his house on Second avenue corner of Third street, this spring, and expects to have it ready for occupancy the first of May.  It is two and a half stories high and in dimensions is 22 by 32.  It is what is known as a shingle house with stone foundation and contains ten rooms with bath and all modern improvements.  It is graced in front with a spacious veranda and has double bay-windows.  It will be lighted by gas and heated by hot air.  

Particular mention should be made of the fine new convent which was built and completed during the past year.  This residence for the Sisters of St. Catherine's [sic] Church occupies a pretty spot on the grounds of the local parish and faces on First avenue.  It is handsomely furnished and equipped in an excellent manner for the work of the parish which the sisters are expected to do.  It has been previously described in the columns of this paper.

One of the finest residences in North Pelham to be erected this year is the new house of Mrs. I. C. Hill in North Pelham on the corner of Third avenue and Second street.  It will be a two and a half story frame house, shingled and will have a stone foundation.  It will be graced with bay windows and a fine and spacious veranda which will extend along the front of the house and on the south side.  It will contain nine rooms with bath, will be heated by hot air and will have all modern improvements.  It will be lighted by both gas and electricity and will cost $5,000.  Mrs. Hill hopes to have it completed by the middle of May.  Eugene Lyon has the contract for its construction.  It will be 24 by 32 feet in dimensions."

Source:  Pelham's Advance is the Greatest Known in History, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 9, 1907, Second Section, Real Estate Section, p. 9, cols. 6-7.

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