Little Claremont Playground
Claremont Community Park
The neighborhood of Claremont derives its name from a mansion that once stood in what is now Claremont Park. The park was originally part of the old Morris family estate, established in 1679. Aware of encroaching suburban development with the arrival of the New York and Harlem River Railroad, Gouverneur Morris II (1813-1888) auctioned off much of his land in 1848. Newlyweds Elliott Zborowski de Montsaulain and Anna Bathgate acquired a parcel in the northern portion of the former Morris property soon after. Anna had grown up on the neighboring Bathgate estate, which now constitutes Crotona Park.
In 1859, the couple built Claremont Mansion, renowned for its white marble sculptural decor, and developed the extensive grounds with terraced lawns that descended to the Mill Brook (now Webster Avenue). There is also a Claremont Playground in Manhattan’s Riverside Park, named for yet another mansion of similar appellation. Michael Hogan, a former British Consul in Havana, purchased land in that area in 1806 and built his Federal-style Claremont Mansion (for which Manhattan’s Claremont Avenue is named).
When the Zborowski estate became a park with the City’s 1888-90 purchases of parkland throughout the Bronx, the Claremont Mansion was converted for use as the local administrative headquarters of the Bronx Parks Department. It was razed in 1938, however, and replaced with a gazebo.
Claremont Community Park, bounded by Claremont Parkway between Park and Washington Avenues, has been under the wing of Community Educational School (C.E.S.) 42 since 1992. The school, which has been instrumental in the creation of this green space, was established in 1906. This property became a GreenThumb Garden in May 1994. GreenThumb is a Parks initiative that facilitates the transformation of vacant city lots into community gardens. In 1998, Mayor Giuliani’s office approved the permanent jurisdiction and management of this garden by Parks. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services then assigned the property to Parks on July 12, 1999. In 2001, the Commissioner Stern, acting on behalf of the students and the community, named the park Claremont Community Garden. Volunteers from the community, C.E.S. 42, and St. Paul’s Church will help maintain and operate the park, along with Parks and GreenThumb.
The 2001 renovation of Claremont Community Park was organized by City Spaces, a program begun by the Trust for Public Land in 1996 to build playgrounds in neighborhoods with inadequate park space. The program enables communities to design parks to meet their recreation and open space needs based on their own estimations. The students of C.E.S. 42 were coating, landscaping, a small portable stage for outdoor classes, fencing, and a gate leading to the community garden. The garden features a gazebo, raised flower beds, trees, and benches made by the students. The majority of the $280,000 funding for this project came from the New York Life involved with the design of this playground which now includes play equipment, safety surfacing, a small track, color seal Foundation, and additional funds were donated by the Charles Hayden Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Levitt Foundation.
Parks acquired a .18 acre addition to this property from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in 2001. This South Bronx park serves as a valuable educational resource and community center.