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.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of The Pelham Home for Children in 1938

One of the most important philanthropic institutions ever founded in Pelham was The Pelham Home for Children.  In 1888, a group of Pelham residents organized "The Pelham Home for Children" as a summer home for New York City's underprivileged children.  The home began as part of the Fresh Air Fund program.  Initially, the institution was known as "The Summer Home" and initially was located in North Pelham.  It opened in the Spring and closed in the Autumn each year.

At about the turn of the century, those involved with the institution began searching for a more permanent location.  James F. Secor, William B. Randall, and B. Collins took the lead and decided to purchase a plot along today's Split Rock Road in Pelham Manor on land once owned by Aaron Burr and, later, the Prevost family.  The land cost $1,500.  The three men needed to raise $100 immediately to bind the contract for purchasing the property.  They raised the $100 in 24 hours, with most coming from Emily Hall Hazen, headmistress of Pelham Hall (otherwise known as Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls).

Pelhamites embraced the institution with gusto.  They raised additional monies and constructed an entirely new building.  Over the years, the charity evolved into a convalescent summer home for children, particularly girls, with cardiac issues. The entire town supported the institution which became a year-round place of rest that offered youngsters schooling and medical care. 

The Pelham Home for Children operated until 1950.  On June 15, 1950, the board of the institution decided to dissolve the institution and distribute its assets to other charitable organizations because "more recent and beneficial treatments could be given the youngsters than the home was equipped for."  See Cardiac Home To Give $62,945 To 2 Hospitals, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Apr. 8, 1951, p. 1, col. 4 and p. 2, col. 5.

I have written about The Pelham Home for Children on a number of occasions.  For a few examples, see:

Fri., Feb. 07, 2014:  Early History of The Pelham Home for Children, an Early Pelham Charity.

Thu., Apr. 14, 2005:  The Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road.    

Fri., Mar. 13, 2009:  Pelham Women Stage Benefit for the "Summer School for Children" in 1900.    

Tue., Jul. 14, 2009:  Successful Fundraiser for the Pelham Home for Children that Once Stood on Split Rock Road

On Wednesday, January 26, 1938, Pelhamites gathered at The Pelham Home for Children to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the institution.  A grand tea celebrated not only The Pelham Home for Children, but also one of its board members, Mrs. Ezra T. Gilliland of Pelham Manor, who had served on the Board of the institution for all fifty years of its existence.

The account of the celebration provides fascinating background regarding the history of the institution.  It also provides important insight into the goals of the charitable organization and the way it was run -- from running a school in the building for the children being treated there to providing recreational and other opportunities for the youngsters, many of whom had suffered heart damage from the scourges of rheumatic fever and scarlet fever.   The account of the Golden Anniversary celebration is transcribed in its entirety below.

Post Card View of the "Pelham Summer Home" in About 1908.

*          *          *           *           *

"Mrs. Ezra T. Gilliland Director For 50 Years At Pelham Home Is Honored
Prominent Manor Resident Honored on Occasion of Convalescent Home's 50th Anniversary.  Drs. Sclater, Evans and Coburn are Heard at Annual Meeting.  Roscoe Ingalls and Perrin Galpin Also Gave Brief Talks.

Mrs. Ezra T. Gilliland of Pelham Manor, at present the first vice-president of the Pelham Home for Children, cardiac convalescent institution on Split Rock Road was guest of honor at tea at the Home on Wednesday afternoon, following the annual business meeting, the occasion marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Home, and Mrs. Gilliland's fiftieth year as a director.  

Mrs. Gilliland who has long been a prominent resident in the Manor was one of the first to become interested in the project of a Summer Home for New York Children in Pelham, fifty years ago.  She has served continuously on the board for half a century.  The Summer Home originally located in North Pelhlam opened in the Spring and closed in the Autumn.  Later the Home was housed in the Split Rock Road building and became an incorporated institution in 1898.  For the past 22 years it has been a convalescent institution for cardiac children.  

Through the long years of its development from small beginnings, Mrs. Gilliland has been closely identified with its progress.  From 1902 to 1910 she was chairman of the visiting committee; from 1910 to 1922 chairman of the house committee; 1923-24 on the Thrift Shop committee.  In 1925 she became third vice-president and in 1929, first vice-president, the office she now holds.

Mrs. Gilliland received many congratulations on her long term of devoted service and received a bouquet of fifty roses, from the officers and directors of the Home.

(Continued on Page 4)

Mrs. E. T. Gilliland Served 50 Years As Pelham Home Director
(Continued from Page 1)

The presentation was made by Bertha Liberi, one of the convalescents at the home.  Mrs. Gilliland expressed her thanks for 'the wonderful tribute' paid her.

Dr. Sclater is Heard

Dr. J. G. Sclater of the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh who is associated with Dr. Alvin Coburn in his research in the subject of rheumatic heart disease told his audience that it was essential for the state to take over the problem of convalescence for the future.

He expressed the hope that the Pelham Home will carry on with its splendid work, giving the doctors encouragement to continue with their research in an effort to discover the causes of the disease.

Dr. Sclater, touching on the connection of the environment with disease said that if we give a community, or keep it up to a reasonable standard of health the incidence of disease would be very low.  Dr. Sclater pointed out that in every case of rheumatic heart disease, the patient suffers either temporary or permanent heart damage.  'It is your job,' he added, 'to prevent that temporary damage from becoming permanent.'  Rest for the patient is one of the factors in achieving this end.

Dr. Philip Evans of Great Ormonda Street Hospital, London, another guest speaker, presented an historical survey of rheumatic heart disease and predicted a magnificent future for the Home, in view of its past achievements.

Dr. Alvin Coburn, in a brief talk emphasized the great importance of the newly-built sun deck for the convalescents and congratulated the Home on the way in which it continuously allies itself with the spirit of progress, in meeting its problems.

Roscoe C. Ingalls Speaks

Roscoe C. Ingalls, past president of the Community Chest offering his congratulation, said the Home has done well by the youngsters it has and is caring for and by the community.  Mr. Ingalls read the names of directors who in its history have served for a period over twenty years.  They included:  the late Mrs. Robert C. Black, 30 years; the late Mrs. Joan Secor, 27 years; Mrs. William Leslie, 26 years; Mrs. E. E. Sinclair, 24 years; [illegible] . . . Mrs. Jas. Elliott, 22 years; Mrs. James Edgar Morris, 21 years; Mrs. E. Kendall Gillett, 21 years; Mrs. J. A. Migel, 21 years; Mrs. A. R. Van De Water, 21 years; Mrs. Gilliland, 50 years.

'The Pelham Home,' Mr. Ingalls pointed out, 'until three years ago had on its board, descendants of one of its founders, Mrs. Charles Frederick Heywood.  She was succeeded by her daughter, the late Mrs. Charles P. Rogers, who was succeeded by her daughter, Mrs. Henry H. Fox.

'The site of land on which the Home stands was known as Bartow Lane, and was purchased from one of the descendants of Aaron Burr, who was Mrs. Adelaide S. Prevost, for the sum of $1,500.

Mr. James F. Secor and Mr. William B. Randall and Mr. B. Collins transacted the business of purchasing the property.'  'Mr. Randall has recalled' Mr. Ingalls said, 'that it was necessary to raise $100 in twenty-four hours in order to bind the contract, and although that sum was hard to find, Mrs. Randall and he found some of it and Mrs. Hazen went up-stairs to the First National Bank and found the balance.'

Mr. Perrin C. Galpin, president of the Pelham Community Chest, extended the greetings of that body and said that the Home may be known for its care of convalescents and for the long life and long service of its devoted workers.  From the point of view of the layman, Mr. Galpin indicated the importance of 'seeing the vision along with the doctors and the nurses,' in a realization of the importance of the work that is being performed.

Nominating Committee Report

The following were reelected to the Board of Directors at the business session:  Mrs. Lockwood Barr, Mrs. W. Beach Day, Mrs. Field Mrs. W. S. Finlay, Jr., Mrs. Perrin C. Galpin, Mrs. Francis E. Haag, Mrs. Robert J. Leonard, Mrs. Jas. Edgar Morris, Mrs. George M. Sicard and Mrs. John T. Snyder.  The report of the nominating committee was presented by Mrs. James F. Chaffee, third vice-president who also read the reports of the various standing committees.

Mrs. Benjamin L. Fairchild, chairman of the Building Committee presented a report on the new school room, sun deck and dining room, sun deck and dining room that were added to the Home during the Summer months.  The old classroom, has been made into a much needed playroom.  Mrs. Morris presented the treasurer's report; Mrs. Black the auditor's report and Mrs. Morris also the budget report.

The annual election of officers has been deferred until the board meeting on February 3.

The afternoon's meeting was opened by Rev. Edward Thomas Taggard, Rector of Christ's Church who offered a prayer.

Mrs. W. Beach Day and Mrs. Robert J. Leonard were in charge of arrangements for tea.  Presiding at the tea tables were:  Mrs. R. Clifford Black, Mrs. Lockwood Barr, Mrs. Roscoe C. Ingalls, Mrs. James Elliott, Mrs. Arthur Van De Water, Mrs. John T. Snyder.

Assisting in serving were Miss Eleanor Fox, Miss Eileen Giblin, Miss Rosaleen Giblin, Miss Jean Brundage, Mrs. Matthew Pirone, Mrs. Richard H. Smith, Mrs. Frederick Johnston, Jr., and Mrs. John Balet.

Among the guests present were:  Dr. Walter H. Brundage, Rev. Arthur Campbell and Rev. Willard P. Soper.

Mrs. Field's annual report was in part as follows:

'This very suspicious [sic] occasion, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Pelham Summer Home, is to have as its main feature, the honoring of our first vice-president, Mrs. Ezra T. Gilliland, who is serving her fiftieth year as a Director.

'To look ahead fifty years seems like endless time, but to look back twenty or more years, to the time when some of us became interested in the Home seems short, and yet Mrs. Gilliland and her co-workers of that early date probably feel that fifty years has not been so long.

'It probably did not enter the minds of these pioneering workers what firm foundations they were building, nor how valuable and far-reaching their efforts were to become.

The Home, A Product of Pelham People

'The Home is in every sense the product of Pelham people and to Pelham people, past and present is due the credit for its existence and its accomplishments.

'While it is modest in its makeup, it stands as a monument of unselfishness and sincere good-will to a small community which is doing its bit to help its fellowman, and to help make the work a healthier and happier place in which to live.'

The New Wing, A Notable Improvement

'Our outstanding effort during the past year was the erection of the new wing, that fulfilled the necessity for out-door accommodations for bed patients and indoor play space for ambulant children.

'The old school room was renovated and now lends itself admirably as a play room.

'We would urgently invite you to visit the Home during any normal day's activities, as we know that you will be much inspired by the children's contentment and happiness.

'Another major piece of construction that was forced upon us during the year, was the tearing out and replacing of several floors in the basement that had been reduced to pulp, under a shell of this wood, eaten away by termites.

'A further improvement that the Pelham Manor Fire Department had been urging upon us for some time was a fire resistant wall between the furnace and the basement stairway.

'Insulation of the cap of the house and repairs and replacements in electrical wiring were other improvements.

'When the Building Fund was created by some gifts early in 1929 it was secretly hoped by some of us that the Fiftieth Anniversary would be celebrated in a new fire-proof building.

'While we were unable to realize this dream, as a matter of space and utility, the present building now lends itself very, very well to the work being done, and we wonder if a complete new building would be any more adaptable.

'We are very much indebted to Mrs. Benjamin L. Fairchild and her committee for their untiring efforts in supervising the Building Program and bringing it to such a satisfactory completion.'

Seventy Children Cared for During Years

'We cared for 70 children during the year, four of whom were Westchester County children.  A few have been with us three years, some are in their second.  Only thirteen who were here less than a year were discharged, and four of this group were transferred to hospitals for additional medical care.  'Many of these children have had prolonged periods of time in bed.  A few of them spent as long as two years in the 'Land of Counterpane,' as one member of the Community Chest so ably termed it.  With such long periods in bed, one can readily see whey it is necessary to have facilities for getting the children out of doors and into the sunshine.

'Weather permitting, all of the children now get out of doors every day and you will find the bed-patients carrying a good coat of tan as you visit them.

'Dr. Alvin Coburn and his associates are giving the children very close attention.  Dr. Brundage is always available when needed, and Dr. Heyl and Dr. H. N. Stevenson, together with Dr. Swift and Dr. Brodhead have rendered services when called upon.

'We feel very much honored that Dr. Coburn chose the Pelham Home as one of his units of research.  We have tried to be of as much assistance to him in his work, as our space and means would permit.

School Work Every Day

'All children, unless acutely ill, or otherwise indisposed, carry on their school work every day under the supervision of Miss Aimee Gibbon, who has been conducting the Cardiopathic Class since it was started in the Home, in February, 1924.  The largest class in our history, eight in number, was graduated from Grammar School, last June.  Four of these girls are now having visiting teachers supervise their High School work in their own homes, since the Board of Education does not provide special High School classes for cardiacs, as it does for grade students.

'It is most encouraging to learn of the many children who retain their good health long after they go home, despite their cardiac conditions.  Most of them finish High School work, find their places in the world and earn their own living.  Several of the girls are now married and ably taking care of homes and families.

'Another bit of encouragement is the number of children who return to visit the Home after they have been discharged.  Some of them return every year, recalling happy occasions, and wishing they might return to stay.  Especially, are they eager since the house has been enlarged.  It is true with convalescents as it is with all other groups, that 'We do not live by bread alone'.'

The Recreation Program

'By way of diversion, the children have a recreation period every afternoon from three until five o'clock.  The bed-patients are entertained three afternoons a week by thee Service League members, and the older girls are members of Pelham Home Scout Troop No. 3.  Also, parties are held on various holidays to relieve the monotony.

'Our well, established custom is the Christmas Eve party with its profusion of gaily wrapped gifts, beautiful tree and the arrival of Santa Claus, sponsored by the Christmas Aid Fund of Mount Vernon.  You would enjoy this party and return in spirit, to your childhood days, as your President and other Directors have done for many years.  Indeed, it would not be Christmas to us if we missed this party.  

'We are greatly indebted to the many friends and to the various organizations that make the parties possible, and bring happiness to the children.

'The food budget was materially augmented during the year, with gifts and donations.  Despite the rising prices in this line, we remained well under the budget figures, and kept the purchase price down to 27 cents per person per day.'

$1.53 Cost of Each Child Per Day

'The cost of the care of each child was one dollar and fifty-three cents per day.  Although these figures seem very low, we do most of our purchasing at wholesale prices, and we send our children home, having gained from ten to thirty pounds in weight.'

Plan Improvement of Grounds

'We hope it will be possible, in the near future, to improve the grounds in the rear of the building, to conform to the new Hutchinson River Parkway that is adjacent to our property and recently opened to traffic.  The opening of the Parkway has materially reduced traffic in front of the Home and is a great asset.  We have been offered a quantity of shrubs and some trees when we are ready to make the improvements.

'We depend upon our monthly check from the Thrift Shop as one does his weekly pay check.  It has become such an established asset.

'Our Sustaining Factor -- The Community Chest'

'Our sustaining factor, the Community Chest, of which you are all a part, has been our great comforter for several years.

'Your president is most grateful for the sustaining hands of your all.  She voices the sentiments and appreciation of the Board in according you her heartfelt thanks; and asks your continued service in sponsoring the efforts so nobly started a half century ago.

'Let us all continue to uphold the heritage and tradition handed down to us by those women whose charity has reached the vast unknown, in the care of His loved ones.'

Among those who received invitations to the tea honoring Mrs. Gilliland were:  Mrs. C. R. Gillett, Mrs. E. C. Beecroft, Mrs. J. D. Baker, Mrs. J. D. Currie, Mrs. A. L. Hammett, Mrs. H. G. K. Heath, Mrs. George A. Jeffers, Mrs. Edward C. King, Mrs. George W. Lawrence, Mrs. James F. Longley, Mrs. William H. Orchard, Mrs. Edward Penfield, Mrs. Mont D. Rogers, Mrs. E. E. Sinclair, Mrs. Loren O. Thompson, Mrs. J. C. Wilberding, Mrs. George L. Eaton, Mrs. E. S. Whitall, Mrs. E. P. Bacon.

Also, Miss Anna Secor, Mrs. F. W. Whitehouse, Mrs. William L. Dench, Mrs. William H. Leslie, Mrs. T. J. Deuscher, Mrs. A. F. Decker, Mrs. G. G. Wood, Mrs. Everett Pervere, Mrs. Harriet Jacob, Mrs. W. W. Damon, Miss Anna C. North, Mrs. Gordon M. Buck, Mrs. A. G. Adriance, Mrs. George Phelps, Mrs. Ralph Rogers, Mrs. Francis Kingsley, Mrs. Henry H. Fox, Mrs. James L. Gerry, Mrs. Walter H. McIlroy, Mrs. William B. Randall, Mrs. George Taylor, Mrs. George Batcheller, Mrs. Allston Gerry."

Source:  Mrs. Ezra T. Gilliland Director For 50 Years At Pelham Home Is Honored -- Prominent Manor Resident Honored on Occasion of Convalescent Home's 50th Anniversary.  Drs. Sclater, Evans and Coburn are Heard at Annual Meeting.  Roscoe Ingalls and Perrin Galpin Also Gave Brief Talks, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 28, 1938, Vol. 28, No. 43, p. 1, cols. 5-6 & p. 4, cols. 3-7

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