The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in idyllic Pelham Bay Park is not an easy destination to reach (you can take the Metro North or take the #6 all the way to the end of the line). But once you’re here, it’s a real gem””the only standing historic mansion in Pelham from the mid-20th century.
The Bartow-Pell has an illustrious history dating back from before American Independence. In 1654, Thomas Pell signed a treaty with the Siwanoy Indians for the rights to 9,000 acres in what is now the Bronx and Lower Westchester. The treaty was signed under Bartow-Pell’s Treaty Oak, a giant white oak on the property that became the only tree to have an obituary on the front page of the New York Times when it died in 1906. The property was passed on (and sometimes sold and re-acquired) through the generations until its current mansion was built by Robert Bartow between 1836-1842. In 1888, New York City purchased the estate as part of Pelham Bay Park. In 1914, the International Garden Club adopted the mansion as its clubhouse, restored the interior, and installed gardens, eventually opening the museum to the public in 1946.
Who were the Bartows? They were a wealthy family headed by Robert, a book publisher, paper manufacturer, banker, and gentleman farmer, and Maria, an heiress to a tobacco fortune. The mansion’s architect is unknown, but the style is Greek Revival. While none of the original furniture remains, the period rooms are decorated in the classical style as the family would have in the 1840s, as well as pieces on loan from area museums.
The Partners in Preservation grant application is actually to help restore the mansion’s historic gardens behind and around the house. The gardens were designed by Delano & Aldrich in 1915-16, and restoration will hopefully be completed in time for the centennial celebration in 2014. Money from the grant would go towards regrading the terraced lawn, reintroducing flower beds in the original design, replacing ailing trees, and restoring the decorative wrought-iron gates, among other improvements.
Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation , a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category.
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum [Map]
895 Shore Road
Pelham Bay Park
Bronx, NY 10464
Wed, Sat, Sun
Take the #6 to Pelham Bay Park stop, then take the #45 Westchester Bee-Line bus (free transfer) to the museum gates