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.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Rare and Unusual Images of Hunter Island Inn, Once a Pelham Landmark

There once stood on Shore Road a magnificent mansion built in the Second Empire style that was most popular between about 1865 and 1880. The Second Empire style evolved from 17th century origins into an eclectic mix of earlier European styles including the Baroque style, frequently combined with mansard roofs.  See Copplestone, Trewin, ed., World Architecture: An Illustrated History, p. 310. (Publisher Paul Hamlyn, 1963).  Built by a member of the DeLancey family, the mansion (and the estate that surrounded it) was known as "Greystones." 

Greystones belonged to Elizabeth DeLancey, a daughter of Elias DesBrosses Hunter.  It was located in a place familiar to all Pelhamites. It overlooked Shore Road just within today's New York City boundary on a small hill just past the low spot on Shore Road at the small cove often referenced as "Plum Cove" where a small creek sometimes called Roosevelt Creek still floods the roadway occasionally on its way into Long Island Sound. The roadway curves at that spot.  Consequently, the area was the scene of countless automobile accidents in the early days of the twentieth century.

New York City took control of the mansion during the 1880s when it acquired it and all the lands that form today's Pelham Bay Park.  The mansion was under the oversight of the New York City Parks Department where it languished for a number of years. With the annexation of the area by New York City during the mid- 1890's, the former Greystones estate passed from within the boundaries of the Town of Pelham to an area within the boundaries of the City of New York.

The New York City Parks Department leased the mansion in 1900 for use as a "hotel" and restaurant.  The mansion was "updated" and additions were made.  It became known as the Hunter Island Inn and served as a roadhouse for many, many years until Parks Commissioner Robert Moses had the structure demolished in about late 1934.

I have written before about the Hunter Island Inn.  For an extensive history of the structure see Wed., Feb. 26, 2014:  Research Regarding "Greystones," The Elegant DeLancey Estate that Became Hunter Island Inn and Once Stood in Pelham on Today's Shore Road.  There are countless images of the Hunter Island Inn, with many included in the February 26, 2014 history of the structure.  Today's Historic Pelham article presents some rare and unusual images of the Hunter Island Inn.

Currently on eBay there is a "Buy It Now" offering for what is described as a "rate" Iroquois China plate that depicts the Hunter Island Inn.  The plate may indeed be rare.  It is only the second one I ever have seen and is somewhat different from the other one.

Immediately below are two images of the Iroquois China plate including an overall image of the front and a detail from the back showing the mark.  The plate, which is roughly 11 inches in diameter, currently is offered for $149.95.  It is The seller does not indicate a date for the plate, although it likely would be in the late teens or early 1920s.

Front of the Iroquois China Plate Depicting Hunter Island Inn.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge. 

Detail from Rear of the Iroquois China Plate Depicting Hunter Island Inn.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

The only other such plate I ever have seen was one that was offered on eBay last year.  It is a slightly different version of the plate and is about 10-1/4 inches in diameter.  It also was manufactured by Iroquois China in Syracuse, New York.  This plate included a date code on the back of "4-A" indicating it was manufactured in 1915.  Three images of the plate appear below:  one of the front of the plate; one of a detail from the front depicting Hunter Island Inn; and one of a detail from the rear depicting the maker's mark.

Front of the 1915 Iroquois China Plate Depicting Hunter Island Inn.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Detail from Rear of the 1915 Iroquois China Plate Depicting
Hunter Island Inn.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Detail from Front of the 1915 Iroquois China Plate Depicting
Hunter Island Inn.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

There is no indication of how these plates were used or sold.  It is not now known if they were part of service sets used in the Hunter Island Inn or whether they might have been sold as a souvenir at the Inn.  There likely are many others, but they seem rarely to come onto the market.

There also is another unusual and also rare Hunter Island Inn item currently being offered for sale on eBay.  It is a postcard view of the Inn.  Although postcards depicting the Hunter Island Inn are common, the one currently being offered seems to be somewhat rare as it is the only one I have seen.  The postcard lists A. E. MacLean as proprietor of the Inn.  MacLean became proprietor of the Inn during 1915, so the postcard likely is from the late teens.  Interestingly, the postcard notes the telephone number of the Inn as "800 WESTCHESTER."  At the time, of course, the roadhouse was located in New York City's Pelham Bay Park -- not in Westchester County.  An image of the postcard appears immediately below.  It is offered by the seller for $24.00.

Undated Postcard, Ca. 1915, Depicting "HUNTER ISLAND INN.
A. E. MacLEN, PROPRIETOR."  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

As these rare and unusual images of Hunter Island Inn demonstrate, eBay continues to serve as a rich repository of images related to the history of the Town of Pelham.

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