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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

More Lovely Images of "Greystones," The Delancey Mansion That Became Hunter Island Inn on Shore Road

You know right where it stood.  You have passed the site hundreds of times and likely never have given a thought to the location.  The site overlooks Shore Road just within today's New York City boundary on a small hill on the side of the roadway away from Long Island Sound.  The hill is just past the low spot on Shore Road near the Pelham Manor boundary at the small cove often referenced as "Plum Cove" where a small creek sometimes called "Roosevelt Creek" still floods the roadway occasionally.  The roadway curves at that spot and, consequently, was the scene of countless automobile accidents in the early days of the twentieth century.  

There is nothing there today -- only trees.  What once stood there?  It was the site of "Greystones," a beautiful Delancey Family mansion built of native granite in the Second Empire style that was popular between about 1865 and 1880.  The mansion was repurposed in the early years of the 20th century to serve as the clubhouse for the public golf courses built behind it in Pelham Bay Park.  Later, the mansion was renovated with additions and served as the Hunter Island Inn, a famous roadhouse and speakeasy until it was demolished at the direction of Robert Moses in the 1930s.  I have written extensively about the Hunter Island Inn including, more particularly, the history of "Greystones" and its use as a golf clubhouse and a roadhouse.  See, e.g.:  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.

Two map details immediately below show the location where Greystones once stood.  The first is from Google Maps with an arrow showing the rough location as it exists today.  The second is a detail from a map of the area published in 1868 also showing the location of the mansion, listing it as "GREYSTONES Wm. H. De Lancey."

Google Maps Image of the Region With Yellow Arrow Pointing
Roughly to the Area Where Greystones Once Stood.  Shore Park
is Visible in the Upper Right Corner of the Image.  NOTE:  Click
on Image to Enlarge.

Map Detail from Beers, F.W., Atlas of New York and Vicinity, p.
35 (NY, NY: F.W. Beers, et al., 1868) (plate entitled "City Island,
Pelham Township, Westchester Co., N.Y. (with) Town of Pelham,
Westchester Co., N.Y."). Note: References the structure and estate
as "GREYSTONES Wm. H. De Lancey."  NOTE:  Click on Image
to Enlarge.

Recently Historic Pelham published a few rare images of the Hunter Island Inn.  See Fri., Jan. 05, 2018:  Rare and Unusual Images of Hunter Island Inn, Once a Pelham Landmark.  Today's Historic Pelham article publishes another rare image of the Hunter Island Inn as well as a higher resolution version of a previously-provided image.  Both shed interesting light on the Hunter Island Inn as noted below.

The first image, immediately below, is a rare colorized version of of a rare sepia tone postcard view of the Hunter Island Inn in about 1915 or a few years thereafter as seen from Shore Road directly in front of the Inn.  

Undated Colorized Postcard, Ca. 1915 or Shortly Thereafter, Depicting
Image to Enlarge.

The colorized postcard is interesting for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the phone number it provides for the Inn:  "TEL., 800 WESTCHESTER."  The Inn, of course, stood at the time barely within New York City's Pelham Bay Park -- not Westchester.  This suggests, though does not establish, that a telephone was installed (and the telephone number was assigned) before New York City annexed the area in 1895 when the area still was part of Westchester County.  Additionally, the postcard clearly was printed between 1915 and the early 1920s not only because it shows Arthur E. MacLean as the proprietor but also because of the nature of the roadster shown in the circular driveway of the Inn.  

It is possible to see much of the native grey granite DeLancey mansion (behind the roadhouse addition with the red and white striped awnings).  One can also almost make out the statue on the small pedestal standing in the center of the circular lawn within the driveway and can easily see the "HUNTER ISLAND INN" set into the lawn to be seen by passing automobiles as well as the "HUNTER ISLAND INN" sign standing on the right side of the lawn as seen from Shore Road.  Visible as well is the classic Second Empire style mansard roof shingled with red shingles.  

The distinctive single-headlight roadster in the foreground should be fairly easy for an expert on early automobiles to identify.  Extensive amateur efforts, however, have failed so far to identify the make, model, and year of the vehicle with the male driver and the two female passengers in the rear.  

A. E. MACLEAN, PROP."  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

The second image, immediately below, helps understand how Greystones was sited within the landscape and shows a good bit of additional renovation performed on the structure.  The colorized postcard, previously published via Historic Pelham in a lower resolution image, shows the curve of Shore Road as it passes over the location where Roosevelt Creek empties into the Plum Cove of Long Island Sound.  

Careful analysis of this image from an undated postcard shows that the circular driveway that previously existed has been removed.  Additionally, the roadhouse addition constructed in the front of the original mansion structure has been slightly redesigned with more of an effort to incorporate the entrance to the main structure into the roadhouse addition.  (Such changes are more easily visible if you click on the image and continue to enlarge it.)  The statue on the pedestal is still visible, but the "HUNTER ISLAND INN" sign has been changed with addition of a feature that now can be seen between "HUNTER ISLAND."  At first it might look like a hyphen, but it is not and the feature cannot be readily identified.

In this later image of the mansion, the awnings have been removed from all the windows visible in the photograph.  The shrubbery in front of the roadhouse addition has been allowed to grow taller and several of the trees can be seen to have grown much larger.  

Clearly Greystones was a beautiful place even during the years it served as a local roadhouse.  These rare images shed even more light on the beauty of both the structure and the site on which it stood.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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