Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, Pelham Bay Park
895 Shore RoadBronx, NY 10464
Subway/Bus: #6 train to Pelham Bay Park, then Bx45 bus
Nestled deep in the woods of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, and only a mile from a network of bustling highways, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum is a rare example of country elegance in New York City. The estate and house have a long and noble history.
Thomas Pell, an English doctor from Connecticut, bought the land that today forms Pelham Bay Park from the Siwanoy Indians as part of a nearly 50,000-acre tract in 1654. In 1666, King Charles II chartered the Manor of Pelham, encompassing Pelham and the Borough of Westchester. Thomas Pell was consigned the land grant, and built a house on the property near the marshy banks of Long Island Sound. His nephew, Sir John Pell, completed this in 1670. The home served four generations of Pells before it was burned during the American Revolution.
The house and grounds, which include formal terraces, a fountain, and herb and perennial gardens, have been maintained by the International Garden Club, Inc. since 1914. An uncommon 1840s stone carriage house has been restored and is open to the public on a seasonal basis.
Inside the entrance to the mansion, an unusual free-standing staircase rises in a grand spiral. The two main floors have been painstakingly decorated with Empire furniture, including pieces loaned by New York City museums. Decorative plaster graces the high-ceilinged double parlor. On the second floor, floor-to-ceiling windows open onto black wrought-iron balconies, and one bedroom features a crowned mahogany sleigh bed hung in crimson silk. The conservatory, rebuilt in the 1914 restoration by architects Delano and Aldrich, shelters fruit trees and a statue of Venus.
The last of many mansions that once graced the area of Pelham Bay, the house was used by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as a summer office in 1936, and opened as a museum in 1947. Today the museum continues to transport the visitor to the world of Robert Bartow, his family and their times.